I learned of a Ploughman's Lunch while watching Barefoot in London last December. I loved learning about the history behind this humble, traditional English lunch . . . and how it has transformed over the years.
A Ploughman's Lunch reminds me of the the kind of feast that my sweet grandma would prepare for us every Saturday and Sunday in her home, where up to 15 of us would gather to eat, socialize, and catch up with one another. Our weekend visits are one of my most treasured childhood memories.
My grandma was German. Her family moved to America when she was 5 years old. She spoke no English, and shared how challenging it was as a child to be totally immersed in a new culture.
My great-grandparents settled into farm life, as most people did during that time. They owned and operated a dairy farm in the South Bay area of Southern California (where I grew up and our family still resides). My grandma shared many stories of hard work on their farm, as well as gatherings with small, local German communities where they would socialize, support one another, and keep their traditions alive.
As my grandma grew up, she embraced being American; and although she learned to speak perfect English and grow up to be a productive American citizen, she still embraced and shared her heritage with us.
Looking back on my childhood and growing up years, I remember celebrating our German heritage through the foods we ate, our monthly trips to a local German Village to buy specialty foods, and through our family gatherings and traditions. I am so blessed to have many, many loving and treasured memories with my grandma and extended family.
Family was always of the most utmost importance to my grandma. She was known for her warm, unconditional love and hospitality. We were always welcomed into her home with a hug, a kiss, and food. It's quite funny, she was most happy when we were eating the food that she gathered and prepared for us . . . and that is how this beautiful and abundant Ploughman's Lunch reminds me of her.
We would gather around her dining room table every weekend to enjoy a "Ploughman's Lunch," of sorts . . . a breadboard that was filled with cheeses, crackers, fresh fruits like grapes and cantaloupe, small pickles, olives, liver pate, sliced meats, and German mustard and breads.
Cheese and food boards seem so fancy these days; but really - they're not. Well, some might be . . . but mostly they're a humble gathering of what you have on hand; and what you 'gather' for your board will often reflect your heritage, where you live, and even your diet.
I thought it would be fun to create a Virginia-inspired Ploughman's Lunch for a very casual lunch gathering we had with friends last month.
A traditional Ploughman's lunch has cheese, bread, boiled eggs, and pickles. Additional items like sliced apples, ham, and pickled items can also be added.
I stayed true to the roots of a traditional Ploughman's lunch, and then added sliced baked Virginia ham, as well as a this historical dressing I found on the Mount Vernon website to create our Virginia-inspired Ploughman's lunch.
our Virginia-inspired Ploughman's lunch
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fresh, warm baguette
medium boiled eggs
kosher baby dills
sliced bosc pears
sliced Fuji apples
sliced baked Virginia ham
Mount Vernon dressing
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We enjoyed a cool January afternoon gathered around our dining room table, catching up, exchanging stories, laughing, and making memories.
My Littles have grown to love the cheese (and food) boards I prepare for our family and friends. They even have cheese and cracker preferences now (big smile!). It makes me so happy, because it reminds me of MY childhood days.
I'm already dreaming of the California-inspired Ploughman's lunch that I plan to share with friends this Summer. I think creamy Haas avocados, California almonds, garden tomatoes, and central valley strawberries will make an appearance. I can't wait!
Until then, I hope I've inspired you to gather delights for your very own Ploughman's lunch.
LET'S STAY in touch!
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