What do you think about when Wales is mentioned? Is it the country’s rich culture, the language, the singing, the former glories of its once vibrant coal mining industry or maybe the rugby? But perhaps other things spring to mind: the beautiful natural environment, its picturesque upland sheep farms, its historical ruins or perhaps the friendly and generous natives. To be sure, there is much to like and admire about this small and proud country, not least the food. Read on to discover some of the best foods you must try in Wales!
Welsh BreakfastA full Welsh breakfast looks like, and smells a lot like a full English breakfast, except for one key ingredient... Laver cakes.
Laver is an edible form of seaweed which is rich in minerals and when mixed with oatmeal and bacon fat becomes a favoured delicacy for the Welsh locals. It is an essential part of a Welsh breakfast but also goes well as a side dish with roast meat. If you are heading West, be sure to try out a full English breakfast...Welsh style!
The Humble LeekBut it is the humble leek that perhaps takes pride of place on the Welsh plate and certainly it does as an emblem of the country. It is often worn alongside the daffodil on St David’s Day and appears in a number of legends about the country. In one such tale, King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd ordered his soldiers to wear the vegetable on their helmets when they were battling against the Saxons, of all places, in a leek field!
During the Elizabethan era, Shakespeare makes reference to the wearing of the leek as an old tradition dating back centuries. But today the leek is more often known for its delicate taste when eaten in the many delicious recipes the country is known for. On another tack, check out the Welsh national rugby team and you will see each player wears an emblem of the leek proudly emblazoned on his strip.
Leek recipes are a huge favourite on St Davids day, with an abundance to choose from including Leek and Stilton soup, Haddock and Leek chowder, Chicken and Leek soup, Leek and Cheese Welsh Rarebit, Cheese and Leek Soufflé, and more.
Welsh LambTherefore it seems that the leek has become etched into the Welsh consciousness. But Wales is known for more than just great vegetables in foodie circles. Some of the UK’s best lamb is reared in the Welsh hills. Lamb and mint sauce is a firm favourite in the country and well beyond as well.
Beef is also raised in the country. Perhaps it is the quality of its grass and the warm climate that helps the country produce so much good meat and much more.
With so much excellent produce in the country it is perhaps unsurprising that agriculture forms such an important part of the Welsh economy. It cannot be overstated.
Tales of the SeaWales is also home to other dishes, each with their own cultural significance sometimes dating back centuries. These traditional dishes are often served at ceremonies and historical events and include laverbread – a seaweed dish and cawl; a stew made with bacon, scraps of lamb and vegetables.
Remember too that Wales is surrounded by water on three sides so as one might expect the country is rich in seafood. Fishing also plays a significant part in the country’s economy as evidenced by the many little fishing villages around the coast.
CheeseAny discussion of food in Wales must include the quality and fame of Welsh cheese. Who has not heard of Caerphilly cheese sold the world over and another cheese dish famous in the country is Welsh Rarebit which is basically melted cheese on toast.
So whether it’s fruit and veg you are after, fish, lamb or just about any other natural food, Wales is a great place to visit and enjoy. The Welsh can guarantee that you will leave feeling happy and so will you stomach.
Guest writer Mark writes for Milk and More, an online grocery delivery service for British fruit and veg and other everyday groceries.