Cider apples have been a part of my life since I can remember.
As a child I could reel off the names of apple varieties in the orchard we had on our tenant farm in Somerset in the way other youngsters recite nursery rhymes. I could even eat a Morgan Sweet like a dessert apple and not wince one bit.
In the 60s and 70s though, when I was growing up, our orchard was on its way out. No-one was interested in cider. Back in the day, though, it was the favourite tipple of both my grandfathers.
During the war, my paternal grandfather used to press his own cider on the farm. Naturally, he was very popular with the American GIs stationed nearby.
But then cider went out of fashion. And then it came back in again. Enthusiasm, care and passion were harnessed to bring cider back to its rightful place as the king of drinks in the Westcountry. Previously gut-wrenching scrumpy made way for crafted cider for all discerning palates to enjoy.
Our very own James Crowden, who lives just over the west Dorset border in Somerset, comes to Bridport Literary Festival on Wednesday 10 November with an illustrated talk all about cider. He’s at the Electric Palace at 11.30am. The talk is followed by cider tasting! More details here.
In Cider Country: How an Ancient Craft Became a Way Of Life, Crowden traces an elusive history of how this drink came into existence and why it became so deeply rooted in the nation’s psyche.
From the ancient myth infused civilisations of Central Asia and the Mediterranean, to Britain where it was warmly embraced by monastic communities; from the nation’s love-affair with cider after the Reformation to the present day, and to the next generation of cider makers.
Full of subtle flavours and fascinating characters, Cider Country is the unusual and enthralling story of cider and the remarkable people who make it.
If the book cover is anything to go by, it’s going to be a superb event. And I am looking forward in particular to the tasting afterwards…