I have dug through my laptop and found the words which I wrote but alas the original pictures have been lost in a black hole somewhere.
Sadly, Oatcake shops are very few on the ground now - even the site of the famous "Hole In The Wall" has been redeveloped, but there are still some around if you search.
Here is that web page with some fresh images.
This folded page is unusual in that it is a tribute to what some of us consider to be a great delicacy. Others say they are too rich. Even some sons of Lichfield folk have decreed that they are foul and a piece of bread is preferable.
In my opinion, they are possibly one of the most versatile and unknown foods, which are very hard to find anywhere south of Uttoxeter or north of Newcastle-under-Lyme.
A local supermarket once stocked them down here in the South of England, but although they were usually sold out before I could get any, I was told that they no longer have them - shame on them.
What is this food ?
(a.k.a "The Tunstall Tortilla" or the "Potteries Papadam"
"Oatcakes", people say, "I like those" and therein lies the confusion.
These are not the dreadful, dry, hardboard-like Scottish biscuits.
The North Staffordshire Oatcake is succulent and in my personal view still best served as a savoury snack or as part of a full breakfast or brunch with bacon, eggs and cheese.
My Aunt Jean has served oatcakes as a Lasagne style meal (using them to replace the pasta sheets).
They are simply superb.
If you happen upon an Oatcake shop - there is one in Cheadle, another in Leek, Hanley and a few others scattered around - do not squander the chance to see the delicacies coming off the bakestone and trying them for yourselves.
Ode To The Oatcake
Report: Philip Oakes
What divides Britain - more surely than accent or class or even the cash flow - is where you can find the Staffordshire oatcake. To my knowledge it has never been sighted north of Blackburn or south of Rugby. Its natural habitat is the Potteries, once the black heart of the Midlands, where bottle ovens belched smoke as thick as gravy and food was heavy not only with carbohydrates but with a morality that announced itself in maxims.
In my mother's house, the favourite text was "Waste not, want not", with "Plain living and high thinking" coming a close second. Without hesitation, she decreed that bread was Good. So was porridge. So was home-made soup with its ballast of lentils and pearl barley, its surface beaded with fat. I asked her what it was that winked in my soup and she instantly told me: "Goodness".
Oatcakes were undeniably Good, but they were a luxury. I should explain. A Staffordshire oatcake is nothing like its Scottish cousin. It is not a parched and gritty biscuit, but a moist pancake, made with a batter of oatmeal and yeast.
As flat and thin as a dishcloth
An obedient and suppliant cheek
That will bend any way you want it
Round and floppy, the oatcake
Has texture similar to the skins of old colliers or men
Dying of potter's rot
Don't let the poetic license put you off. The oatcake is delicious, eaten hot or cold, the perfect accompaniment to all fried food, stuffed with bacon or grated cheese, spread with honey or, quite simply, running with melted butter.
I've seen it dismissed as a variation on the Greek pitta or Breton crêpe. But there is no comparison. The Staffordshire original is not just a wrap-round but an entity; a delicacy in its own right.
Exiles yearn for it.
When I was in my teens, I first moved to London, my mother sent me parcels of oatcakes, limp and weighty, anonymous in brown paper. What she was telling me, I suspect, was that I should never have left home and the message was spelled out in oatmeal.
The shop we patronised was in the mining village of Smallthorne, not far from the knacker's yard where we sometimes went ratting. The bottom of its bow window was level with my eyes and I would stand there in the dusk for an hour at a time, watching the oatcakes being made.
On the far side of the shop the oatcake man measured oatmeal, flour and milk and water into tall white jugs. He added salt and yeast and when the mixture had risen he would cross over to his bakestone, a black iron plate which sent waves of heat shimmering to the ceiling and pour out 12 liquid pats which would spread and sizzle on the metal. Bubbles bulged and burst. The mouth-watering smell of toasted oatmeal seeped under the door and into the street and as the edges turned crisp and golden he would flip them over to cook the other side. When they were done he would stack them in a tender, tottering pile beside the bakestone and start on the next batch. As always, I bought 12. The oatcake man wrapped them in tissue paper and I bore them home, clasped to my chest like a hot and fragrant poultice.
We make our own, using this recipe:
225g (8oz) fine oatmeal
225g (8oz) plain flour
2 tsp salt
400ml (¾pt) milk
400ml (¾pt) water
15g (½oz) fresh yeast (or half quantity dried)
Lard for frying
Mix the oatmeal, flour and salt in a large bowl. Warm the milk and water together to blood heat. Cream the yeast with a little of the warm liquid. When it froths stir into the flour and oatmeal with the remaining liquid. This will be runny; don't worry.
Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave the mixture to rise for an hour or until it has doubled in bulk. Make the oatcakes like pancakes, using a frying pan, large or small (larger pans make thinner oatcakes) and frying each side for about three or four minutes or until they are golden. Stack within a folded cloth.
To reheat, pile them on one plate, cover with another and put in a moderate oven. They will emerge hot and steamy. Wrapped in a slightly damp tea towel and put in a cool place, they will keep for a week.
Ours rarely last that long, which - according to Arthur Berry - is just as well. His ode advises that oatcakes should only be eaten two or three times a week:
Such richness every day would be too much
Rather like having the News of the World
Delivered as a morning paper
What's more, he adds:
These cakes can play the very
Devil with your waistline
I must WARN !
Leads to BULGENCE
Live dangerously. Try them and see.