A History of the Ploughman's Lunch

A History of the Ploughman's Lunch

It's as if the term 'Ploughman's Lunch' has been on the archetypal village pub's menu for several millenia but you might be astonished to find out its use started far more recently; we were! According to agreement from various sources including the BBC, the phrase 'Ploughman's Lunch' was first promoted by the Milk Marketing Board in the 1960s as part of a campaign to promote the sales of cheese, especially in pubs. However the concept of the combination of ingredients is much older.

If we journey back slightly further to an edition of a magazine published by the Brewers' Society called 'A Monthly Bulletin' (dated July 1956), we get this superb quote describing the activities of a group called the Cheese Bureau, which it says "exists for the admirable purpose of popularising cheese and, as a corollary, the public house lunch of bread, beer, cheese and pickle. This traditional combination was broken by rationing; the Cheese Bureau hopes, by demonstrating the natural affinity of the two parties, to effect a remarriage". The use of the phrase 'traditional combination' suggests this type of well balanced, locally produced food has indeed long been a part of rural folk's diets.

Whenever this perfect meal first originated, there is one thing we feel is vital to the perfect Ploughmans Lunch: generosity; each piece of cheese, or bread or accompaniment used must be large and chunky. Perhaps this explains why rationing and the war got in the way of our enjoyment of this unique English dish and we needed the MMB in the '60s to remind us how good it always was.

Have a look at our recipe ideas for the perfect Ploughman's Lunch here


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Frazer Irwin on Fri August 17, 2012, 11:21:14

Thinking back to the days in the fields and ploughing, not with horses though have often wished to try, more a few hundred horses (BHP types) it struck me how unlike the 'Ploughmans Lunch' of Pub Food is to that in the fields.

Cheese, bread and apples and perhaps a few slices of a meat, but each in moderation. Bouncing along on a tractor with or without a cab would soon play havoc with the digesation of pickles, cheese, ale, bread and whatever the chef tends to throw in.

Simple and plain and in modern times NO ALCOHOL.

In the Chocolate Box Countryside where the sun always shines, cows contentedly moo, hens busily cluck and Old Giles enjoys the sunset along with Mary Jane, then a Ploughman's is perfik........

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