Introducing The Archers Through Food
If you’ve ever seen my twitter timeline at 7pm, you can’t have failed to see lots of #thearchers. This ‘everyday tale of country folk’ has been my drama of choice for years now. Now I think about it, this is not surprising. I mean it is basically about people who make food, farm food, bake food and serve pub food. Yes, The Archers is a drama about food! You may have heard about the gripping storyline which is running at the moment resulting in record ratings. I’ve been genuinely moved by the domestic abuse story involving Helen Archer and have joined with hundreds on twitter calling for justice for the Blossom Hill resident.
So I thought it would be fun to introduce you to some characters from my favourite radio show in the way I know best: through your tummy! Here’s how to learn about the residents of Ambridge and feast at the same time.
Before being sent over the edge by evil Rob, Helen was the top cheese maker in the county. Her Borchester Blue is a small batch creamy blue made with love. So I’d suggest that you get your mitts on some Burts Blue. Made by a real life cheesemaker Claire Burt, this semi soft blue cheese is handmade in Cheshire using unpasturised local milk.
Brother of Helen, and pork entrepreneur. Tom rattled evil Rob by insisting on stocking scotch eggs in the farm shop. What’s not to love – a well made scotch egg is a glorious thing indeed. This recipe for black pudding scotch eggs from The Foodie Couple Blog will be great with a runny yolk and a pint of Shires on the side.
Having a crisis? Don’t worry, Jill will be there with a cake to make everything better! My tea loaf is something she would whip up at the first whiff of a flood or marital strife and a fancy lemon and grapefruit drizzle such as this from Casa Costello is her defence against foot and mouth or financial ruin!
Filthy laugh? Check. Fag in hand? Check. Gin on tap? Check. Lilo Lil is a social whirl and can be counted on to break the tension at even the most serious Christmas panto rehearsal. If you can’t have a glass of gin and tonic to hand all day everyday, I’m sure Lillian would sneak this very grown up gin jelly created by Helen at Family, Friends, Food into her lunch break. And she would ask Jenny to make this beautiful Hendrick’s Dome in her fancy kitchen. Patisserie Made Perfect must have had Lillian in mind when she created this!
The Bull is the centre of village life; a local pub for local people. Run by Jolene (frustrated country singer) and Kenton (reformed lothario), all life is here. They serve pint after pint of local ale Shires and in a weird twist, they now have Jolene’s ex-husband Wayne (petty criminal, reformed) in the kitchen. Turns out that Wayne is the Paul Hollywood of middle England and his sourdough sarnies are a surprise hit on the menu. Make your own sourdough like Lauren from Hole Food Family did or check out some of the excellent bakers. Here in the North West we have More? The Artisan Bakery or All You Knead if you want to throw dough at getting some good dough. Once you have the bread, serve with a ploughman’s for the full Bull effect.
There are enough Grundy’s to fill an episode of Jeremy Kyle, so I will focus on Eddie (married to the much put upon Clarrie) and his dad Joe (aged 90-something). Eddie and Joe have been raising turkeys forever, and life really hasn’t been kind to them- often living hand to mouth as they wait for the next few quid to come their way. Last year, they finally got the business online so here’s hoping that this Christmas will be a bumper one for the family! I always think that turkey meat can take having a load of flavours thrown at it, so I like to make Thai-spiced turkey meatballs for a healthy mid-week meal. The Grundy men would not approve- they are strictly meat and two veg types!
I can’t mention the Grundy’s without introducing you to the Ambridge Cider Club! There is a well loved tradition of drinking the first batch of cider in some dusty old farm shed and the whole village having monster hangovers the next morning!
I could go on. For me The Archers and food are most definitely linked. Maybe it’s because I am almost always cooking when I listen, or maybe because it deals with real agricultural issues which help me understand more about the food on my table. Either way, I urge you to tune in and give it a go!
What not to say to a fan of The Archers: fancy a tuna bake for tea?
One final word. This huge tea towel is being sold by Cotton Roots to raise money for Refuge. Just one way that fans of the show have been moved to make a difference to real-life Helen’s. If you can check them out and add one to your collection.
If you’re a fan of The Archers, I’d love to hear what it means to you. Or if I’ve convinced you to tune it, what did you think?