Traditional Welsh recipes are characterised by what was the standard diet of the local working population – coal miners, farmers, labourers and fishermen – and the ingredients available to them. Fresh garden vegetables: river, lake and sea fish and shellfish such as salmon, brown trout, white crab, lobsters and cockles. and meat from home-reared animals such as lamb and beef are all a prominent feature of the diet. For many years, Welsh cooking was a well kept secret, with recipes passed from generation to generation only by word of mouth. This oral tradition means that recipes often have regional variations, and have also been altered over the years to adjust to times of hardship or plenty.
Food and drink in Wales in the old days was dictated by circumstances and climate. It was a style of eating based largely on grains – oats, barley, rye and wheat – root vegetables, buttermilk and a limited amount of meat. Bacon was the meat most usually eaten. Leeks, the national vegetable of Wales was also widely used. Baking also lies at the heart of traditional Welsh cooking – breads, scones, biscuits and cakes feature widely. Bara Brith and the Welsh cake are famous examples.