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Traditional Food: Old Dishes, New Methods

Minwel Tibbott, 1970
Minwel Tibbott on fieldwork in Pentyrch, 1970

What would you consider to be 'traditional Welsh food'?

Bara brith, cawl and Welsh cakes have established themselves on the menus of Wales' cafes and restaurants, but what other foods belong to the Welsh tradition?

The study of traditional foods was a very new research field when Minwel Tibbott started working for St Fagans in 1969. She realised very early on that the information would not be found in books.

Travelling the length and breadth of Wales, she interviewed, recorded and filmed the older generation of women, the majority of them in their eighties. Their memories harked back to the end of the nineteenth century.

The staple foods of this period are those that are now referred to as the traditional foods of Wales.

Gallery of archive images

Old Dishes, New Methods

Rhian Gay demonstrates how traditional recipes can be adapted to modern tastes and modern cooking methods.

  1. Apple Cake
    Rhian Gay demonstrating a modern way of preparing dinca fala — apple cake.
  2. Potato Scones
    Poten dato or Potato Cake was baked regularly in the counties of Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire when potatoes were harvest and plentiful in the autumn. The traditional version was sweet and contained sugar, spice and currants. They have been left out of Rhian Gay's modern version in order to make small savoury cakes — an ideal base for canapés
  3. Welsh Cakes
    Welsh Cakes have been tea-time favourites in most parts of Wales since the second half of the nineteenth century. They were usually cooked on a bakestone and the Welsh names given to these cakes were usually based on the different regional Welsh name for the bakestone. These included pice bach, tishan lechwan or tishan ar y mân (bakestone cakes), but in English they became known generally as Welsh Cakes. Here's Rhian Gay demonstrating a modern version of Welsh cakes.
  4. Fruit Pudding
    Wild fruit were collected from the hedges according to the season. Here's Rhian Gay preparing a simple and tasty pudding, similar to a Summer Pudding, utilising blackberries.
  5. Laverbread
    Rhian Gay demonstrating how to prepare laverbread cakes.
  6. Cawl
    Many consider cawl to be the national dish of Wales. Traditionally it was the staple diet for numerous families, and as with most recipes, varied from family to family and region to region according to what was available and in season. In some parts of Wales the broth was served as a first course, whilst the vegetables and boiled meat was served as a main course. A similar dish, known as lobsgows was served in north Wales. Here's Rhian Gay demonstrating how to prepare cawl.
  7. Cockle Pie
    Rhian Gay demonstrating a modern version of cockle pie.
  8. Cheese on Toast
    Rhian Gay demonstrating a modern take on cheese and beer.
  9. Scallop Biscuits
    These biscuits have long been associated with the village of Aberffraw, Anglesey. They were sold at Aberffraw's annual fair. The mixture, divided into small balls, was pressed against the base of a scallop shell, known in some areas as Cragen Iago, the Shell of St James. Here's Rhian Gay demonstrating a modern way of serving these biscuits.
  10. Sewin (Baked trout)
    Baked trout with bacon was once a breakfast dish in Wales. Quarrymen and miners used to go down to local streams on Sunday mornings and tickle enough trout for breakfast. Here's Rhian Gay demonstrating a modern way of preparing sewin with bacon

For further information, images, audio and archive film, please visit the Peoples Collection Wales website.