It's Foodie Time again this Saturday. Here's Ann…
As you draw up your Christmas dinner cooking timetable, spare a thought for the turkey. They’ve been around in this country since the 16th Century – Henry VIII had one at his Christmas dinner. But before the arrival of the railways the only way to get them to the London market was to walk them there. Daniel Defoe, travelling in East Anglia in the 18th Century, was told that 150,000 turkeys a year were brought to London by drovers. Each flock consisted of between 300 and 1000 birds, making their slow way to Smithfield, feet sometimes dipped in tar and sand to protect them from the road. Not that we’re talking about the tarmac of the A12.
For young birds there were carts with three or four layers, drawn by two horses, which could make the trip to London in a couple of days.
How drovers carried on their trade is a subject now confined to history. But there are still drovers’ roads crisscrossing the countryside. And lots and lots of pub names remember drovers – my current favourite being the Drovers’ Thai restaurant in Powys.
For more foodie thoughts, join my walk this Saturday December 17 – From Pie Crust to Upper Crust – starting at 10.45 am at Embankment tube.