The Mouthwatering Food of All Creatures Great and Small

The Mouthwatering Food of All Creatures Great and Small

Bethany Heald:

I’ve got a brilliant, really traditional butcher that makes the black pudding [“blood sausage” in the US] on a big tray in a very traditional manner. It’s not like the overly processed tubes that you can buy in the supermarket, so I go to him for that. They cure their bacon—he does it specifically for me, a special order that comes straight from the farm. It’s the whole of the bacon, the back and the streaky all joined together in one big piece, done in a very traditional cure. It’s their secret recipe, and I wouldn’t be allowed to disclose it to you even if I knew. Viewers might not notice these things, but I know. So it’s very authentic.

A typical breakfast on All Creatures Great and Small as seen on MASTERPIECE on PBS

We’re really lucky, filming where we do, because there are some really fantastic authentic traditional butchers and they make wonderful pies. They make them in a very traditional way, and they decorate them—I don’t do that myself, they do that all for me, which is really lovely. And they’re delicious. If I remember correctly, there’s always a pork pie in every [season]. Pork pie is a massive favorite.

But whenever I’m cooking the black pudding, there are certain members of the crew as well as the cast that miraculously appear at the kitchen door, because the ceilings are all open into the studio, so the smell sort of permeates around the set and people follow their noses and appear. “Just checking if there’s any spares.” So bacon, sausages, black pudding, eggs—scrambled or fried are usually the preferences. There’s sometimes cabbage and toast, jam, butter…

Often when they’re eating, there’s take after take after take, and all the different angles to film. So on a breakfast scene, we can sometimes go through the equivalent of about 40 normal human size breakfasts, because they’re eating the food. And sometimes the actors get really miffed because there’s too much dialogue, so they’re not allowed to eat because they can’t rechew and say their lines. There was one scene when the table had to be laden with breakfast and they weren’t allowed to eat anything, and as soon as the director called, “Scene complete,” all of them dived in and demolished these breakfasts that they’d been drooling over for the last two hours.

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