I’ve heard it said that you can measure your way up to northern England via bread – bap, cob, muffin – that the bread’s width increases, becomes a floury pillow – barm cake, stottie, hoagie – a generosity of yeast, wheat, salt, water, fat.
Likewise you can map out the geography of Lancashire by its food: flaky Eccles cake, Goosnargh cake speckled with caraway seeds, the salt brittle oatcakes of south Lancashire, blood-rich Bury blackpudding, the golden crust of Wigan pies and, of course, a big casserole dish full of comforting hot pot – with all its family recipes and local variations.
It’s Lancashire Day – celebrated across the region every year on the 27th November ever since 1295. This day evokes memories of traditions and idiosyncratically Lancastrian practices from Preston Guild to Blackpool Illuminations to rushbearing in Littleborough and brings to mind the many stories from the county and locally.
As it’s Lancashire Day, and as this blog is about Writing Rochdale, let’s have a few links to stories where the storytelling is as malleable as the boundaries, and creation, of the place itself. As discussed in earlier blogs the borough of Rochdale boasts many old and contemporary folk tales, so here are a few for Lancashire Day, from John Roby (a bit of a Rennaisance man in that he was a banker, poet, antiquarian and folk tale collector) there are the stories of the malicious fairies of Healey Dell, and around Blackstone Edge lurking Mother Red Cap waits to curse young lovers. These stories are still retold with variations by each storyteller, changing to incorporate recent local trends for contemporary audiences. Over the last twenty years, the stories of unidentified flying objects will become the folk tales of the future.
Here’s to the Red Rose and here’s to all in the Hundred of Salford. Happy Lancashire Day!