Lampeter is a busy market town that still retains many independent shops despite the arrival of two supermarkets. Wander along the high street and you’ll find Conti’s, an ice cream parlour that still operates from the same shop it started life in back in 1946 and at the other end of the town is Lloyds, a fish and chip shop that started in 1949. There is a mix of craft shops, vintage shops, boutiques hardware stores as well as the usual chemists, butchers, florists and bakeries.
On the second and fourth Saturday of the month the People’s Market is held at the Victoria Hall. It will be on this Saturday 26 April from 10 am to 1 pm. I will definitely be pottering a long this week as there is a plant swap taking place, courtesy of the Permaculture Group. This is a great idea where you can bring vegetable and fruit plants to swap, or make a small donation. The idea behind the People’s market is to encourage Lampeter to become a thriving Market Town once more where local people cater for the majority of local needs for food, products, skills and services. I think this is a fantastic aim and one that more towns should adopt. Whilst it may take some time for Peoples Market to achieve all of its goals, it is undoubtedly a fantastic community project and what strikes you when walking around this market is the great atmosphere and lively buzz. There is always a band playing live at the market and this undoubtedly adds to atmosphere as well as showcasing home-grown talent.
There is an excellent selection of local produce including artisan bread, cakes, lovely fresh vegetables, wonderful local cheeses and even locally grown shitake mushrooms. There is also a lovely selection of craft stalls that cover everything from glass painting, knitting and crochet to spinning. If you fancy a potter and then a little relax you might want to take advantage of the book swap and then sit down with a pot of tea in the Coastal Café. They serve mean cheese toasties and apparently the bacon butties are a real morning treat, but the charm of the Coastal Café is not in what they serve, but the purposefulness behind the Coastal Café project which is a facility to train and give experience of the work place to those with disabilities.
If you ever find yourself in West Wales on a Saturday the Peoples Market is defiantly worth taking a look at and you will undoubtedly find yourself coming out laden with wonderful local Welsh produce.
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