Its’ been a busy few weeks with more filming seeing me slip from talking about Edwardian pub food with the Hairy Bikers to Second World War ration book cooking in a programme called The First Days Of Peace – Ration Book Britain. It was on with the forties tea dress and setting lotion at the ready as I prepared the delights of Mock Apricot Tart, Mock Cream; Victory Pudding and Potato shortbread for a news interview at BBC Southampton that talked about the upcoming programme.
The filming of the programme itself was great fun and a great excuse to get my hair done up in victory rolls. During the filming the presenter Joe Crowley uncovered a darker side to life in Britain after VE Day, looking at why food shortages led to a thriving black market, I was happy to share my knowledge in my role as a food historian. The First Days of Peace- Ration Book Britain aired on Monday 11th May at 19.30 on BBC 1 South and is available on IPlayer. Hopefully it will be repeated on BBC 2 later in the year.
No sooner did I get home from filming than I was washing the setting lotion from my hair and swapping my wartime dress for a Roman costume before loading the car up with my Roman cooking props and heading off to North Wales to give an Ancient Roman cookery demonstration in Prestatyn as part of the Romans Return to Prestatyn show. The weather was fair and I was delighted to draw the crowds as I demonstrated how to make curd cheese, Roman bread, Roman preserving techniques as well as cooking up some linseed porridge and showing the Ancient Roman origin of many of our modern dishes.
It’s a short wittering’s this week as I am going to catch an early night and catch up on some much needed sleep, so until next week I bid you a fond farewell from West Wales.
Food has always been of great importance to Seren and despite her being renowned for her historical recipe recreations, her culinary skills were not honed, in the kitchens of top restaurants, but in the home kitchen from the age of being able to hold a wooden spoon.
When Seren was born her mother was taken ill and so she spent her early years being cared for by her grandmother, Minnie. This was to prove instrumental in the development of Seren’s love of cooking, for her grandmother was an accomplished cook, who’s kitchen was always awash with terrine’s, home-made pastry and traditional puddings. Minnie’s love of good food and her zest for life meant Seren’s childhood was filled with days of hedgerow picking, baking, traditional preserving and cooking recipes from the depths of a family copy of, Mrs. Beeton. She learned from an early age how to make Victorian puddings alongside elaborate noble pies and perhaps this explains her love of pastry making and the reason she won an accolade from The Great British Pie Awards this year.
Today Seren has great skill in bringing historical food to life and making it accessible and understandable to the modern cook and diner. Her enthusiasm and love of historical food and British cooking is evident in her presentations and she loves to revive forgotten recipes. She recently took part in ITV1’s Country House Sunday and has given live cookery demonstrations across the country at food festivals, historical houses and castles.
Trained as a herbalist and nutritionist, she has a deep understanding of improving health through food. Her interest in historic remedies and herbal folklore eventually extended to researching British food history, and reignited her early passion for cooking. Fifteen years on and Seren has amassed extensive knowledge and is now renowned for her historical food recreations and interpretations.
Seren’s interest in food history does not just extend to old recipes and cooking techniques, but to ingredients and manufacturers. From the age of fourteen Seren has collected food and drink packaging from early Victorian to the 1960’s. Her collection is now extensive and provides a wonderful snapshot in time that accompanies her vast knowledge of the development of British food and drink companies throughout history. She also has a huge collection of antique kitchenalia and moulds which she uses to replicate historical recipes and portray past eras.
Her training in herbalism and nutrition has not been wasted for despite her merits as a food historian and period cook she also delights in creating British Classic dishes for those with food allergies and intolerances (such as gluten and dairy intolerant). Her botanical knowledge has made her a keen wild food educator and forager that lends unusual as well as historical twists to all her cooking. There are also many points at which food and medicine intertwine throughout history and Seren is able to portray these developments and has also undertaken a lot of research into the British spice trade.
To Seren historical food is not a job, but a way of life.
Visit Seren's blog: Serenity Kitchen