When my mom starts cooking, I can only say one word “Bendigedig!” That’s ‘fantastic’ in Welsh. Mealtime will never be the same once you tried some Welsh food goodies. Have you ever tried Welsh rarebit? Bara Brith? Caerphilly cheese? Oh my, I am drooling! If you haven’t tried them yet, well, let me describe it for you and when you get a chance grab one!
Let’s start off with the Welsh rarebit. Some people say it’s just cheese on a toast. Wrong!!! My mother’s Welsh rarebit recipe has more to offer. She puts in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, high-quality cheddar cheese and strong ale or beer or red wine! Yes! You just need to mix all these simple ingredients to get one fantastic Welsh treat. The first time I tasted it I just had to ask for more. You can have it any time too!
If you want something more sophisticated, then try our Welsh Bara brith. Some people call it speckled bread or fruit cake. To make it tastier my mom put in raisins, candied peel and currants in the yeast bread. Some folks today use the no yeast version because it lasts longer. If you want the original kind, we Welsh soak the ‘speckles’ or dried fruits in tea the night before we bake them with flour. In 1865, the Welsh settlers introduced the Bara brith to some countries like Argentina. Today, they call it ‘Torta Negra’.
‘Pice ar y maen’ or Welsh cake anyone? In our home we entertain people by asking them to try something different like the unique Welsh cake. They may look like cookies and that’s okay. It is the unique taste that is hard to forget. The cake ingredients are flour, currants, sultanas, raisins, a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg. We serve it hot or cold and we sprinkle them with caster sugar for added sweetness. To bake real Welsh cakes you have to use iron griddle or ‘maen’ and place it on the fire. In Wales the griddles are also called bakestones and that is why we Welsh folks call it ‘bakestones’ rather than Welsh cake.
If you want something to nibble on, then try our Caerphilly cheese. Made of cow’s milk, this hard white cheese has a sour twist to it, but tastes great. The fat content is about 48 percent. You can keep this fantastic treat for two months and you will still get delightful Welsh treasure.
I love Cearphilly cheese most especially when my mom adds it to another favorite Welsh treat, the Leek and Potato pie. This pie has tons of good stuff inside like Pembrokeshire ham, double cream, potatoes, Welsh ale and Welsh cheese and of course the leek! With this special ingredient, you get tried and true Welsh flavor! Moreover, we Welsh celebrate March 1, St. David’s Day, by giving thanks to Saint David, the patron saint of Wales. He made the leek the national emblem of Wales.
Finally, moms traditional Welsh Cawl or soup! My all-time favorite is a national dish combining great flavors of lamb or beef, leeks, potatoes, carrots, swedes and other vegetables. This great stew, cooked slowly to soften the meat and get the perfect blend, got introduced in the 14th century and they used cauldron or iron pot to cook it. They also used wooden spoons for this cuisine. Today, things maybe a little different, but my family still enjoy the bonding time while waiting for the cawl to simmer and turn to a memorable cuisine.
Six great Welsh delight my mom proudly serve the family. Mind you they are not just food, they are traditions. So, when you get a chance why not savor Welsh cuisine. Better yet, check beautiful Wales and “mwynhau’r bwyd!” Enjoy the food!