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Saturday 27 August 2016

All Aboard For Watercress

I've always enjoyed a steam train ride, there is something almost magical about it, and you somehow appreciate the countryside scenes more as the train takes you along the track. I know many people enjoy the variety of steam train rides that are available throughout the year on the many heritage type railways that you can find around the UK.

Last year we were fortunate to have a ride on 'Steam Train Victor' (pictured above) when we visited Newby Bridge - Lakeside at Lake Windermere, in the Lake District, North West England. Lakeside Pier is one end of the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway in which you can travel by steam train 3.5 miles via Newby Bridge to Haverthwaite, along the old Furness line that used to go to Ulverston and Barrow.

Another lovely ride is on 'The Watercress Line' which is the marketing name of the Mid Hants Railway, a heritage railway in Hampshire, South England. It runs for 10 miles (16 km) from New Alresford to Alton. The line gained its popular name in the days that it was used to transport locally grown watercress to markets in London. If you should be in Hampshire, you could choose to let off steam and travel in one of the lovingly restored Steam trains through the beautiful countryside. It really is the perfect way to unwind and witness the sights, sounds, smells and magic of steam travel from a bygone age.

Perhaps you may stop a while at the picturesque Georgian town of Alresford or Alton, a bustling market town and purchase some watercress! 

" Watercress is in season from April to September and although it's usually relegated to a garnish on the plate, why not look upon it as a delicious and health-giving vegetable in its own right. You can use the hot peppery leaves to add a kick to salads, and their pungent flavour also makes flavoursome soups, sauces and flavoured butters and goes particularly well with eggs.

The hot peppery taste comes from the mustard oil in the plant and its strong flavour stimulates the taste buds and digestion. Young leaves contain less mustard oil and so have a milder flavour.

Curiously the peppery taste of watercress has a cooling effect, a paradox that was noted by the celebrated 14th century French chef Taillevent, who was also the first person to include it on a menu. He prepared a lavish banquet and served watercress after the fourth course, writing on the menu 'Watercress, served alone to refresh the mouth'.

Watercress was so popular in the past that every spring it was sold tied into bunches in Covent Garden, London by London street sellers. Buyers ate the bunches from their hands, rather as we would eat an ice cream cone!

Hippocrates the 'father of medicine' opened what was probably the world's first hospital near to wild watercress growing in a stream, so that he could use the watercress to treat his patients. In fact watercress is one of the most nutritious vegetables and is a rich source of vitamins and essential minerals. That's why the French call their watercress soup, potage de santé or 'healthy soup'.

It's not a good idea to eat watercress found growing in the wild though, as it's likely to be polluted and may carry liver fluke.

Cultivated watercress is grown on washed gravel and nourished with pure fresh spring water."
Above words from here 

Watercress can be eaten in many ways ... my favourite is to serve watercress with salmon, where its refreshing flavour just compliments the taste of the fish perfectly.

Poached salmon, watercress mayonnaise with a hint of dijon mustard
See recipe here

All the best Jan


Jo said...

I always thought that watercress had to be grown in running water but not so, I've grown it myself in a container in the garden. As you say, it's a lovely ingredient to add to salads.

TexWisGirl said...

'the watercress line' - how neat!

eileeninmd said...

Hello, the steam engine is cool. The men in my family are addicted to all things related to trains. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

happyone said...

I followed the link to the liver fluke. Sure won't eat wild watercress!!
Didn't know all that about watercress. Thanks for the info.
I've been on some steam train rides too. Great way to see the countryside.

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

Lovely article about watercress, Jan. I learned a lot about its nutritious value. I love the steam engines from the Lake District and I'm going to show them to my grandson who adores trains. Have a great weekend!♥

Linda said...

Hello Jan! I have always loved train rides as well! And the salmon dish looks delicious! Salmon is my favourite fish. Thank you so much for sharing your lovely photos and great information, I really appreciate it.

Lisa said...

An egg and watercress sandwich is one of my faves.
I have wonderful memories of the Watercress line and a day out with my dad when Tony was younger.
Lisa x

Gail said...

Love water cress. We have it growing here.

Thank you, Jan, for your kind comment and visit.

Have a great weekend.

Debbie said...

i always enjoy riding a train to nowhere, because that's the only train rides we take. they are always fun!!!!

Mac n' Janet said...

Love steam trains and try to ride one each time we're in England.

Phil Slade said...

A trip up to Lakeside is just an hour for us. We have done it many times and always try to fit in a boat ride on Windermere up to Bowness. It's a wonderful day out. Like you say, it's the nostalgia of the steam train but also the landscape that is so invigorating. I agree that Watercress is very good, especially made into a soup. Have a healthy week you all.

roughterrain crane said...

I love steam trains, too. Many thanks for sharing.

Revrunner said...

Oh, yeah! Striking image of a steam engine.

Kezzie said...

What a cool name and how picturesque!!! Mmm, I do like watercress!!x