I have done a lot of soul-searching, and by soul-searching I mean reading of cookbooks, blogs, food reviews, and non-fiction food books, to discover my own feelings about British cuisine now, over the ages, and overall how its gotten its – more often than not – bad rap. A few years ago I was preparing to move to England, and as you can guess, I collected more snarky remarks from my American counterparts than I could count. But where, I asked, did they get their opinions? Had they visited there? – No. Had they eaten anything British? – No (or if yes it was always fish and chips, bangers and mash, etc.). How did they know this was true?
As I boarded the plane to the year that changed my life and mind about food, reputations, and my underlying passion to get to know people, places, and cultures through their nosh, I thought to myself… ” London is a world-renowned city, with Michelin restaurants… and behold my foodie crush Jamie Oliver grew up and cooks here, it cannot be what people say! I am going to find the best British food, and come back here singing its praise!”
Those were my last fighting words. My year abroad brought me more than enough knowledge and love for food, and not just with my quest for discovering the greats of the Brits specialties (which there are many beyond “pie and mash” people!) but that food wasn’t just about eating. It was about spending time with people, discovering things together, enjoying the moment, and enjoying food to its fullest. Here I go… getting a little sappy. I can’t help myself… back to the topic at hand.
I ventured to ethnic restaurants, old pie n’ mash shops of the East End, Mediterranean, Gastropubs (don’t knock until you know their purpose – which was to bring good food and atmosphere back to English food in its dark ages!), real unique old man pubs, and the motherload of it all – Borough Market. I discovered the roots of the unfortunate fate of British’s food’s recent reputation (between the 40’s and the 80’s people still ate like war times and focused on quantity and price, not quality… hmmmm this sounds vaguely familiar me… anyway) When culinarians realized what had happened to their country, they began to work to change it!
So what does this all mean? It means I fell in love with a culture, a history, a cause, and a new passion overall: food.
Now. Where does that roast come in you ask? Lots of people have that Sunday roast. Well. Its British, and has been for ages. Lucky for those folks, if they could get their hands on meat, it kept up its legacy throughout the ages. Of course quality varies based on the quality of the meat, veg, and its preparer (wink), but its a lovely thing to do with company, or on a lazy Sunday. I encourage you to bring back this tradition for yourself, and see ow much you too can love food 🙂
Next up… the recipe for our “pudding!” – Rhubarb Sponge