James Rayner was born and brought up on the Isle of Wight. His background is in language and literature which he studied with the University of Iceland and the University of Malmö in Sweden. His first book, The Isle of Wight’s Missing Chapter was published in 2019 and focused on the Island’s forgotten Asian, African and Caribbean history. Historic Isle of Wight Food (2021) is his second book.
Historic Isle of Wight Food (Paperback)
Author – James Rayner
This book takes a tour of the lost world of Isle of Wight food, bringing to life the forgotten elements that characterised the Island’s regional cuisine in centuries past, from foraged fruit wine to samphire and sand sprats.
It explores how the Island’s landscape, traditions and heritage combined to create a distinctive and varied food culture and reveals the stories behind some of the Island’s most iconic food products such as the spicy, plum-filled Isle of Wight Doughnut and the local version of a creamy panna cotta. It unearths how wild garlic became named after the local Romani gypsy minority and how a local type of biscuit became reproduced in bakeries as far afield as Calcutta.
It concludes with a look at the wave of European chefs and hoteliers who changed the course of local food forever before exploring the edible wild plants, dialect terms and historic recipes that defined Island food, allowing this forgotten food culture to be revived once again.