So as we enter into the midway point of LOVE BRITISH FOOD FORTNIGHT (20 September - 5 October), there seems to be lots of delights to sample in local pubs and restaurants that don't normally find there way onto the menu. Earlier in the week I was in Claytons (local butcher) and ended up having a lovely chat with a dear old lady who was painstakingly giving me her recipe for Brisket which she insisted only tasted as good as it did because 'you have to make sure it's British beef, the European and especially the French beef isn't up to the job'. I'm not sure the French would see it the same light but in principle, I do agree that we, as in British folk, should purchase British meats and produce, rather than those flown in from around the world.
The conversation and the fact that we're having a British Food Fortnight made me wonder why we, as in the Brits, have been labeled with such terrible cuisine. Jacques Chirac was his usual scathing self about British food being the worst food in the world after Finland and that you couldn't trust a country with bad cuisine. Having had a look around the interweb, it would seem that the introduction of fast food; anyone remember Findus Crispy Pancakes? Along with the end of rationing and the colonisation of the High Street by the 'new' Supermarkets, probably left our food and ingredient haul a little flat, lack lustre and I will go as far as saying, bland and stodgy.
Obviously there has been a revival in making good food using quality British ingredients spurred on through wonderful campaigns which garner radio, newspaper and TV support, as well as the support from large consumer brands like Tesco and the other supermarkets. There have been some great recipe book finds from Victorian England, as well as some surprising finds such as the traditional 'Wedding Pie'. The latter is something I'd probably rather not recreate and am happy to stick with the sweeter version that we're more accustomed too. Of course TV Chefs being beamed into our living rooms have been a pretty dominant medium to getting the news out that British Food eaten seasonally is utterly EPIC and has huge variety. I do chuckle to myself on occasion when I think about the variety of cookery programmes on TV and more specifically the Great British Bake Off #GBBO which through popularity meant it was moved to BBC 1 prime time. What does that say about Brits, cooking and food?
We're off next week to The Coach House to sample some of their Love British Food Menu. I'm very excited about the Ox Cheeks which have been added to the menu, you don't often find them as a dish on their own, so I'm just hoping that they'll be pilling my plate high.
I did giggle when I read the Love British Food website; they have a number of helpful hints that families and businesses can implement for the 'fortnight' and potentially longer. These included Pick-Your-Own or Grown-Your-Own (bit late with the planting if you want to eat them this week), along with Seek Out British Food at the Supermarket. There were some obvious ideas but I think what I learnt without having to read any books is, if you eat seasonally, not only do you get fantastic variety of meats and produce - no more Crispy Pancakes, even if it's a Lobster Thermidor version - but unsurprisingly, Mother Nature gave us a helping hand by ensuring that the right produce is available at the same time as the complementary Game, Meat or Fish.