greentapestry : 32 Across,39 Down

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

32 Across,39 Down

''In Northern England, a pudding made at this time of year from the young leaves of the bistort plant" (6 - 6)

Easter has passed in a most pleasant mish-mash of gardening, greenhouse time and allotment time. The weather has been warm, almost too warm at times, so in an effort to remain pale and interesting, I have also been indulging in other favourite activities - reading and doing crosswords. My mother and I both try to complete the same weekly general knowledge crossword and compare our respective progress over the phone. Sometimes we provide each other with answers, especially if either of us is being hampered by one stubborn clue, as was the case when she asked yesterday if I could help with the above clue. She had already made more inroads than me but had reached an impasse.

Although I have spent all my adult life in the north of England and have done my fair share of pudding eating the above clue had me foxed. I had an inkling that the first word was probably Easter but it was the second part of the clue that was puzzling. I finally had to concede defeat and resort to the internet to find the answer. In doing so I came across a fascinating website - Historical Foods, which I have bookmarked for some serious browsing in the future. As well as festive recipes there are regional recipes from the U.K. and Eire, North American recipes and recipes from certain historical eras. There is also a fictional feasts section which includes recipes inspired by 'The Hobbit'.

I tend to think of puddings as sweet concoctions but this turned out to be a traditional savoury pudding. It is made in Cumberland and Yorkshire from the young leaves of the bistort plant with the added ingredients of onions, oats, barley, butter and eggs. Bistort or to give it its Latin name persicaria bistorta is a perennial plant, which usually flowers from June to October. It's the younger, tender leaves and shoots which are used in cooking from April onwards. The roots can also be eaten but take much more cooking.  The plant can be found growing wild in moist meadows, by waterways and on damp grassy roadsides as well as in open woodland. Apparently many local villages in northern England hold competitions to find the best tasting pudding - that held at Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire being the most well known.

Now just in case you have not already guessed the answer is Easter - Ledger, although the pudding is also known as Easter Ledge Pudding, Easter Giant Pudding, Dock Pudding, Herb Pudding, Passion Pudding and of course by the more prosaic name of Bistort Pudding. I am not sure about the reference to Ledger/Ledge and would like to know where that comes into the equation. Maybe more research later today but then will I ever finish the crossword? Do please let me know me know if you have tasted this delicacy or have more information about this particular pudding.


  1. We used to have polygonum bistorta (we knew as dock pudding)cooked like spinach. It grew in profusion in our meadow and so we were charged with 'cropping' as youngsters. We just gathered armfulls in haste, so the meals were usually rather chewy and stringy! But the taste was good.

  2. Hi Anna,

    Never heard of it, apparently being Yorkshire born and bred.

    Mind, those people up in West Yorkshire can be a strange lot ;) lol only kidding.

  3. Well I was born in Yorkshire and have live here all my life but I've never heard of that before. You learn something new every day.

  4. I don't think Liz was kidding at all - they clearly are a strange lot in Yorkshire! Am out of the habit of doing crosswords, but your Easter sounds pretty perfect to me. All that activity and a fascinating bit of new knowledge! Though Dock Pudding sounds pretty gross - prefer Passion Pudding - but there again, that could just be because I have so many docks on the plot...

  5. I'm from South Yorkshire and I know it as Passion Pudding! My nana used to make it. If I rememerber rightly (and it is a very long time ago!), it was a sort of spinachy-eggy-type thing, with the Bisort being precooked, mixed with the eggs and whatever seasoning she used (NO idea!),then put in pie dishes and baked in the oven. Can't remember what it tasted like (I did say it was a VERY long time ago!), but I do know that I used to enjoy it :)
    Thanks for bring back some memories!


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- Anna.