History of Welsh Food:

Wales is a country that is home to many small farms. Sheep farming is very common near the mountain ranges, and dairy farming is more likely to be near to land around the coast. The origin of Welsh food has its roots deep in their Celtic background and tradition.

Oats were a staple food of the ancient Welsh, and pork was a common meat used in old Wales. Lamb also became a national specialty, but only on special occasions and holidays. Bacon became an essential food item, and it was a mainstay in many Welsh households.

Vegetables included leeks and cabbage, and these items formed the basis for the national dish called "Cawl." This word means both "soup" and "broth" in Welsh, but this is actually a one-pot meal that includes bacon, bits of lamb, cabbage, new potatoes and leeks not fully cooked. Of course, variations of "Cawl" differ from one region in Wales to the next. The "Cawl" is traditionally cooked in an iron pot over an open fire.

Another favored dish by the Welsh was called "tatws rhost", which is no more than thick slabs ("rashers") of bacon, cooked over slices of potato, and seasoned with spring onions and a bit of water. This dish was cooked over the fire, and was a simple but filling meal.

Fishing was an important industry in Wales, and along the coast there were shoals of herring and mackerel. These plentiful fish were simply fried in bacon fat, roasted, or salted and preserved. Other common fish-foods were oysters and cockles. In ancient times, fishermen used a "coracle" to catch their fish. The "coracle" was a simple, circular boat small in size, which was actually nothing more than a wicker frame sealed with boiling pitch.

Edible seaweed, known as "laver", is another food item found in Wales. (It is only available in Wales and certain parts of Scotland and Ireland). The "laver" is used in "bara lawr" (Laverbread), where it is usually dusted with oatmeal and then warmed in bacon fat. This bread is normally served at breakfast or supper.

Meals in Wales tended to center around the main occupation of the head of the household. In the north of Wales, there was a dish known as "swper chwarel" (quarry supper), which was generally eaten at five in the afternoon. The Welsh were also very fond of "crempog" (pancakes oozing with butter); and "bara pyglyd" (pikelets, similar to crumpets, that have spongy holes in them to absorb the butter). Welsh butter is highly salted, but it was also a firm preference.

Other common Welsh meals were "sucan" (milled-oats gruel) and sheep's head broth. A typical Welsh breakfast might include eggs and bacon, oddly served with laverbread and cockles.

Welsh food is as diverse as the country itself, full of extremes and contrasts. In their history, the Welsh traditionally cooked outdoors, or over huge fireplaces. The leek is an absolute mainstay in Wales, as it is a root that is indigenous to the country. The various foods of Wales reflect its own long history.

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