Watercress (Nasturtium officianale) grows in the shallow moving water of streams. It has a peppery flavour and is used, whole, in salads and soups. Often found wild, watercress became popular only after William Bradbury of Springhead, near Gravesend in Kent, opened the first 'hygienic', ie grown in running water, watercress farm in 1808.
Henry Mayhew's 1861 London Labour and the London Poor has; "The first coster cry heard of a morning in the London streets is of 'Fresh wo-orter-creases.'"
Eliza James 'The Watercress Queen', went from hawking cress as a five-year-old on the Birmingham streets, to owning a vast empire of watercress beds in Surrey and Hampshire, a near-monopoly of the London commercial trade and coining the trade name 'Vitacress'. On her death in 1927, the Daily Mirror described her life "as one of the most wonderful romances of business London has ever known."
Image: Mark Percy
Poached Eggs with Watercress Sauce
Potato and Watercress Soup
Shropshire Blue and Watercress Flan
Spring Green Soup
Wandle Stuffed Trout
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