Being born on a farm early in the 1940s, you ate what you were given, and often that was what you had grown for yourself. Nothing changed for the next ten years because we were still on rations, but when Mom married the local butcher a new diet arrived.
Of course there was meat and its various products, but there was also Palethorpes Pork Pies. I developed a taste for these and was intrigued when a well travelled customer asked what the chances were of getting a Melton Mowbray Pork Pie. Palethorpes, it was said, are OK for the uninitiated, but Melton Mowbray are for the connoisseurs.
I put that to the back of my mind until I was introduced to Stilton Cheese for the first time, and discovered that delight also emanates from Melton and its environs.
It was a long time before I got to visit Melton Mowbray, in Leicestershire. There is a luxury hotel called Stapleford Park just to the north and the motor industry uses it a lot when they are hosting car launches. It was always a two day stopover and so there was time to visit the area of that part of Leicestershire and Rutland.
I questioned why Stilton is named after a village in Huntingdonshire (now Cambridgeshire) and was told that an influential inn keeper from London changed coaches at Stilton and tasted the cheese when they stopped for a meal. He was so taken by it he ordered huge amounts and the surge in demand grew. He named the cheese Stilton, but it is only six areas that officially make it, although in recent years a claim has been made that the cheese did actually originate in Stilton itself. That's likely to be for the tourist trade rather than accuracy.
What we found when we visited Melton Mowbray for the first time was that we had picked the right day. On market day there is a definite buzz, especially as you approach the Christmas season. There is an old fashioned feel to the main areas of the town centre, and several shops (all with long queues on a Saturday) providing home-produced Stilton and pork pies that you can watch being filled and sealed.
Melton Mowbray market