Edible England (2021)

Empty the larder, preheat the oven, and set the table - our theme for 2021 was Edible England. From woodland foraging to factory floor, forgotten recipes to regional delicacies, we asked our festival community to explore the past, present, and future of our culinary heritage and culture.

Why Edible England?

We are increasingly becoming a nation of foodies and what we eat and drink is at the heart of much of our culture, our history, our communities, and our lives. It's a doorway into hidden histories, regional differences and the myriad cultures around us. It’s a universal language and one of our basic needs, the perfect starting point for another diverse, fun, exciting festival year!

The recipe

We created a resource pack to help inspire organisers to interpret and develop the theme in countless wonderful ways. Here were our three key suggestions:

  • Cultural cookalong - We asked organisers to inject a heritage twist into this favourite of entertainment shows and social media. From recreating an ancient recipe, to using an ingredient that has gone out of fashion, or sharing a local/regional speciality.
  • Nature's table - Following on from our 2020 Hidden Nature theme, which showcased how our natural world, and our relationship with it, is a vital part of England’s story. Organisers foraged the landscape for edible ingredients, explored the wonderful world of kitchen gardens, and the wider ecosystems that play a vital – and perhaps often unacknowledged - role in our food and drink production.
  • Food from afar - Many of our favourite recipes and ingredients originate from abroad and have come to us as a result of the movement of people, trade, travel and the British Empire. Organisers investigated the origins of what we eat and drink, celebrating the diversity of our favourite dishes and exploring the impacts (good and bad) that our changing diet has had on communities across the world.

The result

  • 730 events were run with an Edible England theme (19% of the programme) generating strong press interest, including a full page profile of Brighton's Regency Cook, who ran a workshop on the history of Englah puddings, in the 'i' newspaper.
  • Have a taste of some of the delicious offers organisers created here on our Festival Spotlight post, or find more details in our Case studies.
  • It helped organisers and visitors find different flavours in familiar places:  "Researching for this particular Edible England event has not only opened my mind, but those of the Friends and our visitors" Organiser from Friends of Wombwell Cemetery