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Smy Goodness Podcast : Food History & Food Art

Dec 24, 2017

How do you eat your chutney? What is your favourite cheese and chutney combination?

Today’s Christmas food is chutney. Since the last 12 Foods of Christmas episode featured cheese, it would seem only fitting that we follow that up with chutney. I have often been asked by Spanish or Italian friends or customers what a chutney is. Chutney originated in India and has now become a staple condiment that has no standard recipe. Discoveries, capitalism and colonialism all contributed to chutneys and pickles making their way back to the UK and once here they were adapted and reproduced with local ingredients and over time a distinctly British chutney has emerged that is related to yet slightly different to the chutneys produced in India which are all so different and varied as the countless regional varieties existing now and throughout their culinary history.

Mango chutneys were first imported from India to England and France in ceramic pots in the late 1600s. Recipes for “mangoed” fruits or vegetables began appearing in western cookbooks not long after their introduction. The love of chutneys and pickles soon spread across England with them quickly becoming part of the national foodscape. It’s loose recipe consists of capturing seasonal fruit and/or vegetables and preserving them with sweet and sour ingredients plus spices. Mango chutney is one of the most eaten preserves across the world.

Chutney is about sustainability, preservation techniques, avoiding wastage and having access to the flavours of seasonal ingredients throughout the year. There is no set recipe and even if there was batches would often yield different results as fruits and vegetables vary widely from season to season based on the conditions they faced through out their growing season. Chutney has long been a pantry staple and in those pantries you were likely to find a wide variety of chutney from different crops, with different spicing and probably from different makers. Gifting chutney is a great way to show you care, share flavour combinations and also a way to get rid of the 25+ jars of pear chutney that this years glut has provided. Christmas is also a great time to enjoy chutney because it falls 3-5 months after so may fruits and vegetables have been in season, that’s 3-5 months for them to be infused with their spices so that they make that perfect accompaniment to meat, cheese and more.

These foods that are shared and adapted and reinvented...this is exactly what I am trying to capture with Smy Goodness and this podcast. Just as ingredients, flavours, recipes and dishes have been adapted and adopted throughout time - this is still happening ALL OVER THE WORLD.