A few years ago, I also became involved in one of the great Cheese Mysteries of the Ages – the origin of the Ploughman’s Lunch. The BBC was looking into the origins of the staple of pub menus, and asked me to do some research.
Although there are some historical references, notably in Sir Walters Scott’s memoirs, and clearly ploughmen have always eaten lunch, sadly there is no evidence of it having been a cheese-based dish prior to the 1960s. The Ploughman’s as we know it appears to have been invented as a marketing ploy by the amusingly-named British Cheese Board.
I’m delighted to report that the Cheese Board is still in business, and its website at www.britishcheese.com has some excellent information on cheese and beer matching for pubs looking to pep up their pairing skills beer. Beer writer Melissa Cole suggests a series of specific matches on the site, including Fuller’s Golden Pride with extra mature cheddar – “a classic pairing of two great British institutions”.
The Cheese Board site also features some general guidelines on pairing cheese and beer from beer sommelier Nigel Sadler:
- Pair delicate beers with young, fresh cheeses
- Pair malty beers with nutty, aged cheeses
- Pair highly hopped, bitter beers with tart, sharp cheeses, especially Farmhouse cheddars
- Pair strong, sweet beers with blue cheeses
- Pair fruit/spiced beers with fruit cheeses.
This 'Kitchen Porter' column appears in the January 2013 issue of Fuller's Tenants Extra