One of the joys of having a motorhome is exploring other parts of the UK and discovering all of those hidden gems which you’d otherwise miss. If you’re a dedicated foodie, then part of the pleasure of travelling around is sampling local food products which you just can’t buy at home. Many of these products make the ideal quick meal too – delicious food with the minimum of cooking required.
1. Forfar Bridie
We’ve all heard of the famous Cornish Pasty which is a staple food for motorhome adventures across the south west of England. If you’re heading north of the border though, try the Scottish alternative, the Forfar Bridie. These are similar in appearance to a pasty, filled with minced beef, potatoes and onions and wrapped in either puff pastry or shortcrust. These tasty treats originated in Forfar, a small town north of Dundee, but are now widely sold in bakers across central Scotland. Perhaps not the healthiest regional food choice, but perfect for a quick evening meal after a cold day visiting nearby attractions such as Glamis Castle, or the recently opened V&A museum in Dundee.
2. Yorkshire Parkin
Parkin is a rich, moist gingerbread cake which originated as a treat around Bonfire night in November. It’s so tasty though that you’ll find many bakeries in Yorkshire selling it year-round. You’d be hard-pushed perhaps to make an entire meal out of a parkin, but as it keeps very well in a sealed tin it’s the ideal thing to have in reserve when you fancy a sweet treat after your main meal, or just something to have with a cup of tea. You’ll find the best parkin in small independent bakeries and farm shops rather than trying the mass-produced versions from the supermarket.
Words for bread and rolls are perhaps the terms which very most around the UK, and often the north east’s stotties are lumped in with all the buns, cobs, rolls and barm cakes. But a stottie is quite different. A stottie, stotty or stottie cake is a large flat loaf with a heavy and doughy texture. They’re sold in supermarkets and bakers all over Northumberland and the north east and with a little imagination can make the ideal evening meal. Split them in half and fill with steak and gravy, or ham and mushy peas, or indeed anything else you fancy. If you have a microwave in the motorhome then it’s easy to whip up a tasty, filling meal using a stottie, can of minced beef or steak, and perhaps some canned vegetables if you’re trying to keep it healthy.
Easy ferry links across from Scotland to Northern Ireland or from Wales into Dublin have made motorhome holidays in Northern Ireland a great possibility. Apart from the stunning countryside and warm welcome, one of the best things about a Northern Irish holiday is the food. Champ is a mix of mashed potato with spring onions, or scallions as they are called locally, chopped and mixed in. Ready-made champ is widely available and ideal for motorhome meals as you’re not spending time peeling potatoes, chopping, boiling and mashing. Champ can be served with practically anything but it’s perhaps best served with thick slices of locally raised gammon or ham.
5. Welsh Cawl
Soup is one of the quickest and simplest foods around, and the Welsh traditional soup of cawl is perfect for a warming meal after a day exploring Snowdonia or the Pembrokeshire beaches. Like all the best traditional recipes, everyone has their own method of making cawl, and the ingredients will vary from village to village. However, most cawl recipes have lamb, potato, and root vegetables like carrots, swede or parsnips. Some recipes add in other Welsh specialities like Caerphilly cheese. Pick up a tub of cawl in local food stores or at a farmer’s market for a quick lunch, or for a more substantial evening meal, get some locally baked bread for dunking.
6. Melton Mowbray Pork Pies
The Leicestershire village of Melton Mowbray has been making pork pies for generations, and the tradition of making pies with a hot water pastry crust goes back to the Middle Ages. Melton Mowbray pork pies have geographical protection, meaning that only pies made in the village, or close by, can use the Melton label. Pies are either sold as small individual pies for one person, or get a larger pie to feed several people and carve out a huge slice for each person. The best thing from a motorhome catering point of view is that pork pies are designed to be eaten cold, so no cooking or re-heating required. Serve your pork pies with a healthy salad, and a generous dollop of good quality pickle on the side.
7. Lancashire Hotpot
Stews and casseroles are the epitome of traditional British cooking and one of the best is the Lancashire hotpot. Yes, you could get all the ingredients yourself and try to cobble one together in a limited motorhome kitchen. But why should you when you can pick up great ready-made versions to reheat all over Lancashire and the north-west? A traditional Lancashire hotpot is made from lamb or mutton, slowly cooked with onions, and topped with sliced potato before being baked in the oven. Some recipes add carrots into the mix too. The other good thing about the hotpot is that it’s an entire meal in one container, so cuts down on the washing-up when you have limited space.
8. Staffordshire Oatcakes
Most of us think of oatcakes as the small cracker-like round objects which are eaten with cheese, but this style of oatcake is a Scottish delicacy. The Staffordshire variety is completely different, and looks more like a pancake or tortilla. They can be filled with practically anything, and work well with either sweet or savoury fillings. For breakfast, they’re perfect with sausage, fried eggs and crispy bacon. Or for dinner, fry up some chicken and vegetables, and use your oatcakes to make a Staffordshire version of a quesadilla or burrito. You’re only limited by your imagination. Oatcakes are sold all over Staffordshire but are most commonly found in the Stoke on Trent area.
9. Chicken Parmo
Everyone deserves a night off from cooking when on holiday, and if you’re in the north-east then every takeaway will serve a local delicacy called the chicken parmo. As the name suggests, the main ingredient is chicken, which is breaded and then baked with a covering of white sauce and parmesan cheese. Served with chips, it’s the ultimate in indulgent fast-food. Parmos originated in Teesside, so park the motorhome up on the coast somewhere like Seaham or Seaton Carew, and enjoy the views across the North Sea as you savour your dinner.
10. Hog’s Pudding
Ask anyone to name the most famous food from Devon or Cornwall and they’ll start talking about cream teas and pasties. Another often overlooked regional speciality is hog’s pudding, a meaty product half way between white pudding and sausage. Hog’s pudding is sold in slices and forms part of a traditional Cornish breakfast. But it’s equally delicious at other times of the day. Try it with tangy apple sauce and mashed potato for a quick dinner, or barbequed and served on rolls with salad. Another Cornish speciality which goes well with the hog’s pudding is Cornish Yarg cheese, which gets its distinctive colour from being matured in a covering of nettles. Hog’s pudding is sold at butchers and supermarkets across the south-west, from Somerset through Devon and into Cornwall.
General Motorhome Cooking Tips
The main restriction when cooking in a motorhome is the limited space. As you’re cooking using a small hob, tiny oven (if there is one) and a microwave, convenience foods are your friend. Canned food has the advantage of a long shelf life, and doesn’t require careful storage in the limited space you have available. Other time-saving essentials are things like pouches of rice or grains which can be microwaved, rather than taking up hob space by boiling in the conventional manner. If you’re travelling over the summer months then the option of barbecuing outside is an attractive alternative. Fish, chicken and any other meats can be cooked over coals, and tastes fantastic too.
The downside to cooking in a motorhome is that the limitations of restricted space and relying on convenience food can result in the temptation to eat fast food or takeaways. If you’re only touring for a couple of weeks in the summer, healthy eating for a short period of holiday isn’t really an issue. But if you’re away every weekend, it can start to be more of a problem.
Do some research on camping and caravanning websites, and start looking through blogs and websites set up by other people in the same situation. There’s lots of inspiration out there and remember that you don’t have to cook – a tin of tuna served with a bag of salad and crusty bread is an excellent, healthy dinner too.