It took a man from East Budleigh to introduce potatoes to Europe. He didn’t realise it at that point, but he was sowing the seed for what would one day become one of Devon’s finest dishes: fish and chips, seasoned by the salty, sea-kissed shore.
As a patchwork of fields sandwiched between two coasts, fishing and farming has shaped the character of the county, with sun and rain on the fertile soil producing lush green pastures, ancient orchards and healthy crops. Devon is home to wild, free-grazing livestock from the native red ruby cattle to Exmoor venison and Dartmoor lamb.
Beyond the fields, Devon boasts Brixham crab and River Exe salmon so fresh you can practically hear their Devonshire accents. Our world-renowned full0fat dairy is turned into ice-cream, clotted cream, junket, cheeses, fudge and custard. Turns out, Devon does know how we make it so creamy.
With this bounty of exceptional produce, our traditional fare has been passed down the generations. Not only did we open the first bakery, illustrious dishes include Devonshire splits, groats pudding, scrumpy and monk-crafted Buckfastleigh tonic wine. Nowadays, our dynamic food scene is constantly evolving with innovations leading to victories on a global scale. We’re not just proud that the first recipe for a dry martini called for Plymouth Gin, we’re proud that Devon gin is still named the best in the world, our charcuterie stands up against the most authentic, and our sparkling wine victorious against French.
Across the county, food is talked about almost as enthusiastically as it is consumed. Our producers are a vast repository of culinary knowledge, only too happy to share their expertise. Their voices are added to by chefs, writers, teachers, bloggers and home enthusiasts who make this topic a lively arena of discussion. Join in the conversation; at farmers’ markets, food festivals and restaurants you can meet the farmers who reared the animal, the fisherman who caught the fish and the baker who baked the loaf. Seek out delicatessens that celebrate our small-scale artisan producers.
With a burgeoning export trade, a taste of Devon is being enjoyed all over the world every day. Perhaps it is our humble attitude to food that makes it taste greater than the sum of its ingredients; a little Devonshire magic on a plate.
My introduction to The Devon Cook Book.