"Please to remember, the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason and plot".
So goes the popular Bonfire Night rhyme.
What is Guy Fawkes Night, aka Bonfire Night?
November the 5th every year is a celebration across England, Scotland, Wales and Ulster to commemorate the failed gunpowder plot by Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.
The failed plot is celebrated by the burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes on the top of bonfires, fireworks are lit and the whole centres around warming hearty food.
Bonfire night fires are more often community led now, though when I was a child, each street would hold their own fire and firework display. Our street would share the cooking of the foods served around the fire. My memories are still so clear of standing by the fire, my face burning from the heat and my back freezing in the cold (sometimes wet!) November night.
We spent months collecting wood and old furniture to make the fire and always too soon it was over, the following morning we would always go back to see if the fire was out - hoping it wasn't - it always was.
Bonfire Night is great fun and as children we loved it.
Food is an integral part of the celebrations and on a cold night needs to be warm, comforting and easy to eat standing up around a fire. The food is rich and wholesome and draws from classical cheap, winter-style foods. There is an abundant use of treacle and Golden Syrup in toffee and warm Parkin Cake.
Bangers and Mash are very popular as are any type of sausage. A Shepherd's or Cottage Pie are other firm favorites; easy to eat, filling and warming.Think about Warm soups served in a cup or a jacket/baked potato wrapped in foil and baked in the embers of the fire.
There are favorites that cannot be forgotten on Bonfire Night and one is Parkin- particularly Yorkshire Parkin which is is the northern equivalent of Gingerbread. In Yorkshire Parkin is made with oatmeal, giving it a dense, chewy texture. It must be made in advance allowing it time to mature, three days minimum but up to a week. In Lancashire, expect a dish of Black Peas and Vinegar to warm you up.
Another unmissable treat is Bonfire Toffee, aka Treacle Toffee and also known in Yorkshire as Plot Toffee. This toffee is not like caramel, it is dark, sharp and really hard to chew - I often wondered if my parents prepared this in the hope the chewing and often sticking-to-teeth would keep us quiet for a while so they could enjoy Bonfire Night, though truthfully, I think they made it simply because it is delicious.