Looking back now, it is nearly impossible to get a fix on Victorians and their diet. For a start, the range of foods was dazzling. People, it seems, ate practically anything that stirred in the undergrowth or could be hauled from water. Ptarmigan, sturgeon, larks, hare, woodcock, gurnet, barbel, smelts, plover, snipe, gudgeon, dace, eels, tench, sprats, smelts, turkey poults, and many more largely forgotten delicacies featured in Mrs. Beeton’s many recipes. Fruits and vegetables seemed almost infinite in number. Of apples alone there were, almost unbelievably, more than two thousand varieties to choose from—Worcester pearmain, Beauty of Bath, Cox’s orange pippin, and so on in long and poetic vein.
Common people did forage to a much greater extent not so long ago. This was before industrialism took over and conditioned us to believe that the food supply should be controlled and channeled through government regulations and organs, for our own safety.