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Country food after a walk in England's Lake District

By Marc F. MillonSpecial to The Christian Science Monitor / April 10, 1980



Bassenthwaite Lake, Cumbria

The wild grandeur of England's Lake District must be seen to be believed. Fells and pikes covered in moss, grass, and rusty bracken descend upon a network of lakes whose names are as beautiful as their appearance: Windermere, Wast Water, Crummock Water, Bassenthwaite, Derwent Water, and Grasmere. No wonder this remote corner of Cumbria provided inspiration for two of England's greatest poets: Wordsworth and Coleridge.

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Today the Lake District remains a haven for those who want to get away from it all. For the unspoiled beauty of the area is stunning, especially when you reach it after traveling through the grime of the industrial north.

On a salubrious spring morn, hikers in bright clothes and stout hob-nailed boots, pack picnic lunches and head for the hills. Out of season, i'ts possible to walk all day without seeing another person. But in the evenings, people meet up at small country inns where great fires blaze, and good country food is served in beamed dining rooms.

One such place is The Pheasant Inn, a charming 16th century hotel which is tucked neatly around the corner of Bassentwaite Lake, under the shadow of mountain and moor. The accommodation here is particularly pleasant since most rooms have postcard perfect views across the lake to the grassy slopes beyond. It is also renowned for it justly famous lakeland cuisine and is mentioned in nearly every good food guide in england. When we were last there it lived up to its reputation.

Traditional Lake District food is hearty and rib-sticking. The area's longstanding reputation as a tourist resort, however, has demanded that it develop a certain sophistication to its culinary style.

Local favorites include roast mutton from sheep fed on the sweet grass of the dales, jugged hare, duckling, venison, lamb. Platters of cold meats include Cumberland ham, boild tongue, and beef. Rainbow trout and char from the freshwwater lakes are plentiful and delicious simply broiled in butter and lemon. Poached fresh salmon is another wonferful treat, served either hot or cold.

Other delicacies include savoury Cumberland sausage, and homemade black puddings.

Cumberland sausage can be seen hanging in long coils in the windows of butchers throughout the area. Spicy, and full of flavor, I think it is the best sausage in England, and a meal in itself, broiled or fried, and served with thick-cut, "chips."

Black pudding is a type of sausage made from cooked blood, cereals, herbs and spices. Though to some who have never tried this north country specialty the name may not sound attractive, it is truly superb. We like it at breakfast with fried tomatoes and bread, cold for lunch, or used as an ingredient in some of the area's renowned stews.

When we are in the Lake District, we find that we spend much specialty the name may not sound attractive, it is truly superb. We like it at breakfast with fried tomatoes and bread, cold for lunch, or used as an ingredient in some of the area's renowned stews.

When we are in the Lake District, we find that we spend much of the day out-of-doors. Therefore, I like nothing better than to come back to the simple cooking of Cumbria -- the traditional "hot pots," taties, pies, and puddings which are so warm and satisfying.

Here are some of our favorite recipes which taste all the better if you've spent the day in the wind and fresh air. Cumberland Hot Pot 1 ounce beef drippings, lard, or oil for frying