Watercress sarnies

May 1, 2007


The MC and me can’t get enough of the crisp, hot watercress that’s been around over the past few weeks. We’ve enjoyed it…

  • in sarnies – good brown bread, thick spread of butter, sprinkle of salt
  • in a soup – just a plain potato, onion and stock base – add the watercress at the end, blitz and stir in a gloop of thick cream
  • as a side dish with pretty much any meat or fish dish you can think of – it’s so versatile
  • chopped with spinach and chives as a stuffing for baked trout

Watercress used to be a popular street food of Victorian London, traditionally sold by young female costermongers. Henry Mayhew interviewed a young watercress seller in the 1840s:

“I go about the streets with water-creases, crying, ‘Four bunches a penny, water-creases.’ I am just eight years old – that’s all, and I’ve a big sister, and a brother and a sister younger than I am. On and off, I’ve been very near a twelvemonth in the streets.”

“The creases is so bad now, that I haven’t been out with ’em for three days. They’re so cold, people won’t buy ’em; for when I goes up to them, they say, ‘They’ll freeze our bellies.’ Besides, in the market, they won’t sell a ha’penny handful now – they’re ris to a penny and tuppence. In summer there’s lots, and ‘most as cheap as dirt; but I have to be down at Farringdon-market between four and five, or else I can’t get any creases, because everyone almost – especially the Irish – is selling them, and they’re picked up so quick.”

I think the longstanding British taste for this river-grown plant is related to our love of hot, sharp, intense flavours. Just watch out for that pesky River Fluke…

Adding watercress to soup

4 Responses to “Watercress sarnies”

  1. Cathy Preece Says:

    I received my liver fluke free watercress (and potoatoes) in my Riverford box yesterday morning (from Ged) and just made Delia’s Watercress and Caper Mash
    A fabulous combination of flavours!

  2. gastropunk Says:

    Thanks for the tip, Cathy. I love capers, but unfortunately the MC can’t stand them, so will have to give this recipe a go one night when i’m cooking for myself…

  3. amalee issa Says:

    I’ve just leapt out of bed to get online and tell you this –> your blog is mentioned in an article by Nicholas Clee in yesterday’s daily telegraph magazine, all about food blogs. Congratulations!


  4. gastropunk Says:

    Yay! Amalee, thanks for letting me know. Isn’t Nicholas Clee the guy who doesn’t like sweaty aubergines? Good on him…

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