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Ploughman's Lunch

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Ploughman's Lunch

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Ploughman's Lunch

Far from being the hardworking farmhand’s traditional lunch of yore, it seems that the concept of the Ploughman’s may only have been popularised by the English Country Cheese Council in 1960. There is currently an investigation by the Oxford English Dictionary into the origins of the term, and references to the “traditional” cheese and pickle combination as the exclusive province of the ploughman are proving hard to find much further back than 1958.

This is not to say that a hunk of fresh, crusty bread, a chunk of tasty English cheese and a generous dollop of pickle have not been enjoyed by the English for far longer than this. Accompanied by a good old English pint, there is no doubt that this is classic pub fare. Whether your cheese is a tangy Cornish Yarg or a creamy Somerset Brie, a Cheddar, a Cheshire or a Stilton; whether it is accompanied by Branston, piccalilli or pickled onions; and whether it is garnished with an apple or some beetroot, a Ploughman’s Lunch is a treat in the fields, in a country pub or as a DIY lunch at home.

Photo: Rosie Rainbow


Your comments

If it were anywhere else in the world, it would simply be a salad. In England however you get the Ploughman's. A huge chunk of cheese, usually mature Cheddar, served with warm crusty bread, pickles, lettuce, grated carrot, cucumber, and not forgetting cress. A huge dollop of mayo, and don't forget the butter thank you very much. Simply delicious, and totally high in calories even though it comes in the guise of a salad, and everyone thinks it is the healthy option. This appears on 90% of all pub menus, and is a true English icon.

Paul Harris

Farm workers in England were certainly eating bread cheese and ale out in the fields in Georgian times, even if they weren't calling it a " ploughman's lunch". The term was actually invented in 1956 or 1957, apparently by the Cheese Bureau - see this website zythophile.wordpress.com/2007/07/16/the-ploughmans-lunch-guilty-or-innocent/
Martyn Cornell

Quote "...it is thought to have been a staple of farming life as far back as the 1830s. ..." Sadly not. The term was invented by the marketing board responsible for cheese (I believe it was the Milk Marketing Board) back in the 1960s. The ealiest reference was tracked down by the OED researchers when they were investigating the term for their next edition. In the 1830s a ploughman would have been operating a horsedrawn plough, which he walked behind. He would have had nowhere to carry a plate, knife or fork - let alone the food. If he had anything to eat with him it would probably have been a piece of bread with maybe a bit of fatty bacon in it.
Richard English

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My favourite Icon of England has to be the Cornish Pasty.

Ian Baldry