Have you ever heard of Yorkshire salad?
I hadn't, until last Sunday when we had lunch in the cafe at Sledmere House. Sledmere is a decent eighteenth century pile in the East Riding. Like all the best country houses, what you see isn't actually what you get - Sledmere was gutted by fire in 1911. It was carefully rebuilt, however, and stands today as a proper country house and tourist attraction, with a play area, extensive gift shop and very nice cafe.
Now, a Yorkshire salad, according to the menu, is a salad with York ham and piccalilli. This works very well. While psychologically, piccalilli may evoke Boxing Day and the dried-up crusty bits around the rim of a jar that's only opened once a year, it's actually a lovely thing to have with ham. Its mustardy, vinegary bite cuts through the fat sweetness of the ham very nicely. This was also the largest portion of ham I'd ever seen - if I'd laid it out flat it would have covered half the table. Great value. I'd recommend it.
So when I got home I googled Yorkshire salad. Was this something Sledmere had invented, or had I been missing something? Was this one of the world's great salads, recently pushed to the sidelines by upstarts Caesar, Waldorf and niçoise?
I didn't get an awful lot of hits. On the Sheffield forum (Sheffield has a forum?) Banjo Griner enthused about eating Yorkshire salad with Yorkshire pudding - 'That's finely diced onion and cucumber steeped in vinegar by the way. Very traditional way of serving Yorkies.' and Supertyke agreed: 'My dear old mum used to love yorkshire salad B.G. - And it really is a tasty way to eat yorkies - (puddings not dogs!!) though it doesn't particularly sound appetising - folks should try it...'
Elsewhere in cyberspace, Alison Hammond gave a recipe - lettuce, onions, mint, sugar and vinegar.
I can't help thinking some combination of these recipes is called for. Caesar salad has its croutons, so how about serving Sledmere-style salad with a Yorkshire pudding on top?