Timely revival for a Victorian favourite
Celery has been co-opted by the healthy eaters – the calorie-counters and the hummus dippers. The weedy stuff available from supermarkets fits this impression. It is often stringy and bland, defined by what it lacks – flavour and bulk – rather than what it has.
It was not always this way. In Victorian times, winter celery was prized as a delicious Christmas treat. Grown in the Fens, this celery would be “earthed up” from September to prolong its season and raise its price. Come winter, it would be freshly picked and rushed down to London on the new railway lines, to take its place next to the cheeses on Dickensian dinner plates, often served in a highly collectible (nowadays) glass celery vase.
Fenland celery is making a comeback. It has been grown by a few farmers for nearly 50 years, but this summer it was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the EU. The designation, which guards against imitation, means Fenland celery joins Melton Mowbray pork pies and champagne, among others, on a list of protected products. It is good news for G’s Fresh, the producer that led the four-year