Guernsey, and Potato Peel Pie, Oh My! . . .

Written by Alana Jolley

June 6, 2013

If you have ever read a book, with descriptions of a certain landscape and its people and felt a strong yearning to visit that place, then you understand why I had to go to Guernsey.

Guernsey is the largest island in the English Channel, and I was motivated, after reading the book, to pursue the story of the Guernsey Potato Peel Pie Society and the five-year occupation of the Germans during World War II.

There is 6,500 years of history to discover in Guernsey, with evidence of some of the oldest structures of Europe found in burial chambers and standing stones. The Romans added this island to their empire through a maritime battle with the Celts in 60 BC under the command of Julius Caesar, and they called the island Lisia.

A book published in 2008 brought a lot of attention to the island, as it depicts the conditions of hunger, starvation, and the means by which the people survived adversity while under the Occupation of the German Nazis.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was an international bestseller authored by Mary Ann Shafer and Annie Barrows.  It was why I came to Guernsey.

Guernsey is best known today for the Guernsey cow, which has been bred here for centuries.  The first cows are thought to have been brought to Guernsey by exiled monks from France in early 900.  Guernsey cows are very docile and their milk is proclaimed to be some of the best in the world because of its golden color and high content of beta-carotene and omega-3.

The Channel Islands were the only British territory occupied by the Germans during World War II. (1940-1945)

Due to the many escapes from the island, fishing was strictly controlled.  In September 1942, all non-born islanders were deported and interned in camps on Hitler’s orders, including the Jews who were sent to Auschwitz, and never returned.

Our favorite restaurant in Guernsey was Christies.  The morning we ate breakfast there we were fortunate to meet the proprietor, Peter Taylor.  As we talked, we discovered that he had lived in Dana Point, near us, for a period of time and worked at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.  He was happy to know that someone from the Laguna Niguel, California area ate at his restaurant.

Lee’s breakfast was a typical English entree with fried tomatoes and beans.

I had “eggy bread” (french toast) with berries and yogurt.  In England things “French” are usually not French.  French fries are chips and French Toast is eggy bread.  (Still a historical rivalry?)

Upon leaving St. Peter Port,  by Ferry, we were able to get a view of the 12th century castle built by King John, which was a fortress that guarded the harbor of St. Peter Port anciently.  The Germans also used it.

King John of England’s castle on Guernsey Island at the mouth of St. Peter Port.

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