The premise of Time Shift: The North on a Plate (9pm, BBC4, Wednesday September 10) was about as loose as its baggy-arsed presenter's trousers.

Paris-based "cultural historian" Andrew Hussey was trying to establish the terroir credentials of food from the north, starting with his home turf, the north west a good idea in principle. The belief that food is rendered unique through a particular set of circumstances, including culture and landscape, is a highfalutin' one but shouldn't be the exclusive preserve of French food.

Granted we don't have quite so many foods in the UK boasting PDO status, but 41 do and there are plenty of regional dishes that could lay claim to 'having terroir'. Lancashire Hot Pot, for one.

But the hefty Hussey, who kicks off this one-hour odyssey by pronouncing without a whiff of irony that he's not a foodie (maybe not in the strict sense of the word, but who ate all the pies, heh, Andrew?), doesn't even mention the Lancashire favourite.

Instead, he explores the cultural history of grub such as Wigan pies, tripe, Lobscouse (the dish Scousers get their name from), Blackpool fish and chips and Wakefield rhubarb and the terroir argument here is tenuous at best.

Yes, pies have a strong mining association with Wigan, but that's not the only place and, while Lobscouse is a Liverpool speciality, the very word is a bastardisation of the Norwegian Lapskaus. As for fish and chips, I'm sorry, but they're not even a northern speciality, let alone a Blackpool one even if the spuds do come from Lancashire.

But ignore the dodgy premise and dodgier gags (at one point Hussey describes a chef as a terroirist, ah ha ha) and it was pretty interesting. I had no idea tripe was once so popular it was the signature dish of a chain of posh restaurants, or that rhubarb originated on the banks of the River Volga and, I'm ashamed to say, I'd never heard of a chippy tea. Another plus was the soundtrack, which featured The Verve and The Smiths - never a bad thing.

I came away thinking that Hussey's point that food is about feeling, family and belonging was fair enough, if tweely expressed. But terroir? I don't think so.

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