We’d all feel better if we ate like peasants.
By Euan Duguid
Eating like a king and still remaining trim and healthy may sound pretty difficult. But one hotelier reckons it’s not so hard to achieve – if we all ate like peasants!
Adam Moore is owner and chief chef of Trigony House Hotel, near Dumfries. And he is cooking up a storm with his range of mainly organic food – many inspired by the recipes of pre-industrial Europe. “The industrial Revolution radically altered the way we lived – and also changed the way we ate,” he explains.
“With a massive influx from the countryside into the cities, the emphasis was put on speed. People didn’t want to wait on a meal after a long and rigorous shift in a factory. The same applies today with microwave meals and convenience snacks.”
Adam, who lives at the back of the ivy-coasted Edwardian mansion with his wife, Jan, took over the management reigns of the hotel with his late mother, Judy, five years ago. He’s especially keen to use the abundant supply of fresh food on his doorstep. He explains, “We have instant access to the best Galloway beef and are a short drive from the Solway where we buy fresh fish. We have our own vegetable garden, and deal with a local smokehouse who supply venison and game to order. Everything is home-made, from the bread to the ice-cream – nothing is pre-prepared.”
Among the more traditional dishes, such as steak, fish and chips and haggis, Adam also dishes up more unconventional fare from unusual cuts of meat slow-cooked for up to 12 hours, like rabbit and wood pigeon pie. It’s known as “Peasant Cuisine”. But he insists visitors shouldn’t be put off by the title. “The French are really into peasant cookery,” he explains. “But they don’t mean someone living in squalor. It really refers to the tradition of regional country cuisine where they’re very big on flavours.
“It means that fresh food is brought in and cooked, often at a low temperature for a long period of time. This not only breaks down the fat but it also brings out the full flavours of the meat – meaning you have a tasty and healthy meal.” “In Italy the movement is called ‘slow food’ which not only refers to the length of time it takes to cook but also the way it’s consumed – Europeans often take several hours over lunch and dinner, as opposed to grabbing a quick sandwich on a half-hour lunch break. Taking your time over prepared food and eating it is far healthier, less stressful and much more relaxing and it’s something we need to start doing in Britain.”
The hotel’s laid-back atmosphere is apparent as soon as you enter the gravel drive of the splendid-looking house. Above the doorway the words ‘The Lord Bless Thy Going Out and Coming In’ are inscribed in the red sandstone. One of the house’s previous occupants lived to 107, so the blessing seems to have paid dividends!
The mellow approach of the hotel appears to have worked. Since the summer of 2000 Trigony has had hordes of visitors through its doors.
Adam’s mother, Judy, who passed away two years ago, was a huge influence in the hotel’s development. “My mother taught me how to cook and was a big influence on the way we run the hotel. She was only 56 when she died so that taught me that life’s too short for dilly-dallying.”