Friday, June 25, 2010

On the Cuisine of the English

English food has a reputation in America for being made of of parts unfit to eat. Therefore, we Americans also believe, English food must then be unfit to eat...
'Their food is too cool and their beer too warm' we say.
However, at this point in my jouney I have made a point to sample every traditional English dish I come across, and I must say that the people who originally came up with the idea that the English make bad food was just jealous.
Their food is delicious. It is true that much of their food is served closer to room temperature. But the things that really should be hot, like soup, are kept hot, as well as the tea. The worst tea in Britain is better than a mediocre tea in America. We, however, know how to brew coffee. The
The beer is almost all real ale, and lagers are thought of as rather silly by many Englishmen.You can ask for it 'normal' or 'cold,'which means the difference of about 4 degrees Centigrade. But that's not the half of it.
I didn't like the idea of a meat pie... I've never quite liked pot pie or shepherd's pie...
But there is something delicious about a steak & ale pie, or a steak & kidney (yeah! a steak & kidney). I've been told that they're especially good in Northumbria, so I can barely wait.
The first time I bit into a British sausage, I flinched. I'm used to ALL MEAT sausages. In England, the percentage of meat is, well... unpredictable at best. Your more likely to find fat, flour, sugar, and spice. They're really quite delicious when you get used to them. How I like it best, however is around a Scotch Egg, which is a hard-boiled egg, wrapped in English sausage, then covered in bread crumbs and fried.
Chutney is an Indian thing originally, but the English have done quite well with it. It's nice on crackers and toast.
I hate liver usually, but I think the English actually know how to cook it. I even ate pate, which is a liver-like paste, and I thought it was delicious.
My favorite so far, though, has been the experience of treacle. What a big deal Alice in Wonderland makes of this substance of which I knew nothing...what was I missing?!
Treacle is the most delicious thing to happen to sugar since honey. I now want a treacle well in my backyard, even if there are two girls learning to draw from it involved.
Treacle tart, treacle pudding, treacle cake... I could eat it all, anytime. It's delicious.

Even they call biscuits 'scones,' cookies 'biscuits,' and whatever else, I have a feeling that us Americans have grossly misjudged the English when it comes to cooking. Sure, they may eat the 'foul' (the more unpleasant part of the animal), but a long time ago, when English cooking was just starting, the peasants gave all the flesh (meat) to the lords. They had to find out what to do with liver, kidneys, and fat. Well, I can now tell you from experience that they have found plenty of ways to make the foul anything but foul. Sure, they may eat a lot of strange parts, but they serve it in smaller portions, and don't waste a drop (a leftover from the rationing period).

All in all, the English can cook. Well. Did someone say treacle? I might not lose wait after all.

1 comment:

  1. Haven't met a country yet where I didn't like the food! We were told the German food would be "yuck" at best. We loved it. And I'm still craving the food in Cambodia. Who goes to Cambodia to eat? Apparently I do! I guess I travel the world to enjoy new food experiences. So eat, drink and be merry Ross!

    aunt jeannine :)