Aga Country - With Mary Berry
The Aga Cooker, that ultimate symbol of homeliness, has become a world wide favourite.
Manufactured here in Shropshire, the Aga's place in the heart of the county is very appropriate, for it is made using cast iron manufactured at nearby Coalbrookedale, on the very spot where Abraham Darby started the industrial revolution in the 18th Century.
Renowned cookery writer, TV expert and Aga cooking's leading exponent, Mary Berry, simply would not be without the Aga in her own kitchen.
Working to a culinary philosophy which accepts no substitutes for the finest ingredients, she has a justified reputation for wonderful food. But Mary's love affair with the Aga goes much deeper than its ability to produce fine cooking.
"It is lovely to come down in the morning for breakfast to the warmth and welcome in the kitchen area which the Aga provides," she enthuses.
"It helps a lot of B&B owners as well, because you have plenty of room to keep things hot. You can do oven cooked breakfasts for 15 without any problem, and as it is on all the time you can cook at short notice. As unexpected guests arrive you can say 'What shall we have?' and rustle up something in no time.."
Such practicality is very important to the professional caterer, as well as those with a busy life.
"You can leave a slow cooking meal like a casserole and go off and do other things, spend time with your guests, whatever you want. And all the time a meal is being perfectly cooked.."
The Aga, although originally brought over from Sweden in the 1920s, has become a symbol of the quintessential English country kitchen.
Throughout the 'blue remembered hills' of Housman's Shropshire you will see many an Aga in the traditional kitchens of our farmhouses, cottages and other country residences. Luckily for the visitor, many of these places offer bed and breakfast as well.