Bradford’s Bolling Hall Museum has opened its doors to a captivating exhibition showcasing a timeline of food and related equipment, spanning from the Middle Ages to the present day. This fascinating display, organised by the Bradford Council, offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the evolution of our diet over the past millennium and sheds light on the significant role played by the Bradford district throughout history.
Stepping into the exhibition, visitors are greeted with a delightful revelation: our love for international flavours has persisted through the ages. Surprisingly, the Tudors indulged in a dish remarkably similar to the modern-day favourite, sweet and sour chicken. This exhibition celebrates the worldwide influences that have shaped our culinary habits since the Middle Ages, including the importation of exotic fruits, vegetables, spices, and sugar. Moreover, it delves into how industry, war, and travel have influenced and adapted our dietary choices.
The Cold and Warm Kitchens displays offer a vivid exploration of the eating habits from the Middle Ages to the Tudor era. Visitors will encounter an assortment of delicacies, such as pies, bread, chicken, bacon, and gilded beef, showcasing the Middle Ages’ flair for extravagant meals. Additionally, the Cold Kitchen highlights the significance of dairy products, providing insights into butter churning and cheese-making techniques.
Proceeding to the Great Hall, visitors embark on a journey from the Tudor period to the present day. A long table unfolds like a timeline of food, showcasing an array of captivating artefacts, including horn cups, Victorian confectionery molds, and ration books. The exquisite Georgian Drawing Room is elegantly arranged for Afternoon Tea, presenting the intriguing story behind the creation of the first sandwich.
The exhibition also pays tribute to the local food history of the Bradford district. Visitors can delve into the narrative of the district’s first chip shops, the provision of free meals for school children, the advent of self-serve supermarkets, and the changing dining styles of the middle and upper classes. Notably, the role of the butler’s pantry is also highlighted, providing a glimpse into the domestic intricacies of the past.
Furthermore, the exhibition features dedicated displays on the Victorian era’s rise of kitchen gadgets and the profound impact of World War Two on our eating habits. Visitors can witness firsthand the effects of rationing and the influential “Dig for Victory” campaign that aimed to promote self-sufficiency in food production.
Expressing her enthusiasm, Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Healthy People and Places, remarked, “This exhibition, spread across multiple rooms at Bolling Hall, offers a captivating insight into the history of our diets and the way we consume food. While elements of the Middle Ages diet, such as pies and bread, may still resonate with many of us, our eating habits have evolved significantly over the past thousand years, incorporating a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and spices that would be unrecognisable to our ancestors.”
The exhibition will be open to the public until September 2023. To learn more about this enthralling display and plan your visit, please visit the official website at https://bradfordmuseums.org/. Immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of culinary history and discover the remarkable journey our food has taken through the ages.