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Vegan MoFo day 19 - A ploughman's lunch on the go

The original lunch on the go was probably the ploughman's lunch.

According to the conventional wisdom, the ploughman's lunch - also known as the ploughboy's lunch - was a chunk of cheese, bread, and maybe an apple or some pickles. It was the sort of meal you could wrap up in a bit of cloth, and take with you into the fields, lay down your plough in the middle of the day and tuck in.

It's an image that harks back to a bucolic image of England, with ruddy faced farm boys knotting kerchiefs around their necks, and stalks of wheat waving under a wide blue sky.

Whether that was the case, no-one's quite sure. According to What Caesar Did for my Salad, the first mention of the ploughman's lunch was in the Life of Walter Scott, a book published around 180 years ago.

But the ploughman's, as it's mostly now known, reached its zenith in the 20th century when a campaign by (depending on who you listen to) either the Milk Marketing Board or the English Country Cheese Council to popularise the consumption of cheese after rationing ended post-World War II.

Those milk-pushers evidently did a great job - the ploughman's was a staple of pub menus throughout the 1970s and 80s, where it became a dish of cheese, bread, pickles, chutney and salady bits of your choice.

Somewhere since then, the dish has rather fallen out of favour. The idea of recreating a vegan version was pretty much as an excuse so that I could order some cheese from Tyne Chease, pretty much the only ready-made nut cheese seller in the UK.

In my humble opinion, good nut cheese should be handed out to new vegans on the day of their conversion, to convince them there is life after milk, and Tyne Chease would be right up there for inclusion in the party bag. At £10 a cheese, it's sadly not cheap, but it is delicious - wonderfully sharp and complex.

I recreated the ploughman's with homemade carrot and cumin chutney, pickled onions, celery, tomatoes, bread and slice of Tyne Chease's garlic and herb flavour.

Friends, I now see why the ploughman's was so popular - there's something so calm, so comforting, so wholesome about eating good cheese and bread, alternating bites with spiky pickles or cleansing celery. Laying it out on a board, it puts me in mind of one of those beautiful Dutch still lifes from the 17th century - edible masterpieces.

Next time the Non-dairy Milk Marketing Board or the English Country Vegan Cheese Council want a recipe to get the world chowing down on nut cheese, I've got just the ticket.

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  1. Ooh yum. I love a ploughmans. We usually have it with Vegusto picante. I've tried the mustard and ale one from Tyne Chease. Wish I could buy it locally, I'd definitely try more flavours.

    1. Carrot cumin chutney...yum! When I was in England ploughman's lunch was always what I ordered in a pub (I was a veggie then, not yet vegan). I agree with you about the vegan cheese; the Tyne Chease looks like it goes perfectly with the bread, pickles, and a pint!

  2. Ooh, great idea! That cheese by Tyne Chease looks so good, as do the other flavours on their website. I'd love to try carrot and cumin chutney too.

  3. That's looks great - I love ploughman's lunches and was surprised to hear you say they are out of fashion as I seem to see them regularly on menus - and that cheese looks great - I love vegan cheeses but was a bit sad to see one yesterday that cost $18.50 and I just could not justify the expense.

  4. I have to be in the mood for a Ploughaman's, I to was surprised to read that you say these are out of fashion, as I see it offered at eateries and posh deli, but it is more with a wider selection of cheeses, rather than the one. I have heard of Tyne Chease, but as you say its pretty expensive, I would want to sample it first, as I haven't yet found a vegan cheez i love.

  5. These are my fav kinds of lunches, mix and match, all kinds of bites.

  6. Sometimes the simplest looking things are the best. I don't mind nut cheese being pricey as long as it's really good. Not for an everyday lunch but I could see your ploughman's lunch as a really nice picnic out in the English countryside. :-)

  7. I'm such a big fan of simple, "rustic" meals like this one. It really allows the individual elements to shine, and shows just how important the quality is for even the most basic of ingredients. I just ate lunch but now you're making me hungry all over again...


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