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Why is Yorkshire Pudding Eaten as a Starter?

First and Foremost
Tradition has it that Yorkshire Pudding should be served before the main meal. A big hunking serving of Yo'ksher Pud covered in lashings of onion gravy. No veggies, no meat, just Yorkshire Pudding and gravy.

When I was a young lad my parents explained that this was because poor families wanted to fill their bellies with inexpensive pudding before serving the roast beef. That seemed like a rational idea to me.

That belief lasted for years until I picked up a book written by Peter Walker (aka Nicholas Rhea: the author of the "Constable" series on which the TV show "Heartbeat" is based). The book is called "Folk Tales from the North York Moors".

Nay Lad, This is Why Folk Do it
Peter Walker has an altogether different explanation that, as the descendant of a Viking Warrior, I find quite appealing.

The Vikings raped, plundered, burned and pillaged their way across eastern England for hundreds of years. When a Viking raiding party reached one particular Yorkshire village they received a strange reception.

Sit Thee Down and Eat Lad
It is a tradition in Yorkshire to offer food to visitors. So, when the Vikings arrived, screaming, roaring and beating down cottage doors with their battle axes, the villagers responded by laying another place setting at their tables and serving a heaping helping of Yorkshire Pudding smothered in rich onion gravy along with roast beef and three vegetables all on the same plate.

Vikings may have been merciless butchers, pillagers and rapists, but the smell of good Yo'ksher Pud overwhelmed them and they sat down to eat. The villagers were spared in the expectation of similar feasts in the future.

Gone But Not Forgotten
After the Nordic raiders moved on to find plunder further afield, the villagers changed their eating habits. Thenceforth they served their precious Yo'ksher Pud first just in case the Vikings came back for more.

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