Norfolk's top foods
While you're here, you might come across our county biscuits, Fair Buttons or Norfolk Gingers. You might find a bakery that does a Norfolk treacle tart, made with black treacle and flavoured with lemon, or Norfolk bread pudding, otherwise known as Nelson slices, which has dried fruit, lemon rind, marmalade and, of course, rum mixed in with the bread. You might even find a restaurant serving Norfolk 'dumplins'. But those things are as rare as an unhappy child on a sunny Norfolk beach in summer.
Here are some ingredients more readily available, just as traditional to the county, and which are a must-have if you're spending any time here if you want to say you've truly eaten Norfolk food…
It had to be in pole position – it's as distinctively Norfolk as pasties are to Cornwall and champagne to northern France. The reason they're so good is that Cromer crabs thrive in the shallow waters of the unique chalk reef just off the coast, producing the sweetest, meatiest crustaceans.
Theoretically Cromer crabs are the same brown crabs that are caught all around the coast of Britain. In practice everyone knows they are unique. The special nature of a Cromer crab isn't a matter of opinion, it's recognised in law. The minimum legal shell span of Cromer crab (115mm) is smaller than any other UK crab – Cromer crabs, with their 'pie crust' shells, really are little bombs of flavour!
Cromer crab is revered by foodies, brimming as it is with a high proportion of white meat. It's also very healthy, full of brain-boosting Omega-3 and low in fat. Eat with a little black pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice and a dash of smoked paprika on buttered brown bread, with mayo, cucumber or avocado. They're usually available from around April.
There's also a Crab and Lobster festival each May in Cromer and Sheringham. Oh yes, did we mention the lobsters...
Otherwise known as 'sea asparagus', it thrives in our tidal salt marshes, and is FAB-UUUU-LOUS steamed and eaten with butter. If you're here in Spring, the asparagus is simply stunning too and you can often find it sold from trailers in countryside lay-bys. Both are usually best in May.
Norfolk black turkey
And let's not forget... whisky!
And here's one more you won't beet...
Half of all the sugar in the UK comes from sugar beet - and most of that starts life in Norfolk. Cantley, the first sugar beet factory in the UK, opened in 1912 and by the 1930s the British Government was actively encouraging the production of homegrown sugar. Norfolk had the farming skills, the soil and the incredible transport network of the Norfolk Broads to help put British sugar on British tables.
Now it’s an industry worth £800 million a year making a major contribution to Britain’s economy. And it wouldn’t happen were it not for the British navy blockading Napoleon’s ships in the Caribbean and preventing transport of sugar cane. The French, having a sweet tooth, had to find an alternative – sugar beet. Et voila!