English Food and English cooking… two very different things

Posted on December 3, 2008 by yankeebean

yankeebeanOne things I LOVELOVELOVE about England is the national passion for cooking and preparing food.  There’s this un-spoken mania for quality ingredients, experimental recipes, and food presentation.  English people love chefs and watch shows like ‘Gordon Ramsay’s Cookalong‘, ‘Nigella Express‘ and ‘Ready, Steady, Cook‘ to keep in touch with the latest (and GREATEST) cooking tips.

Why-oh-why, then, does English food get such a bad wrap?  I think I’m finally beginning to understand.

Bubble and Squeak - from the BBC website

Bubble and Squeak - from the BBC website

It’s regularly called bland (by nations that laden everything they make with heaped tablespoons of salt).  Alot of people seem to focus on things like black-pudding (yes, it IS made out of blood… but most English people that I know wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot-yorkshire-pudding), or spotted-dick (which actually looks like it would be good, it’s just the victim of a strangely rude name), or bubble and squeak (I know that fried sprouts, peas and potatoes doesn’t sound good… but it SO IS…)

People seem to forget that England is just a hop-skip-and-a-cheap-airfare from the whole of Europe.  Just think of how much excellent Mexican food there is in America… now think of how far away Mexico is from a lot of America.  Well England has the happy-fortune of having a wealth of traditional, authentic, exciting recipies right on it’s doorstep.

Basically –> You want it?  You got it!

Obviously it’s not true for everyone, but most English people I know have a real sense of adventure about food.  Happy to try new restaurants or cook new recipes, it’s awesome!

I grew up in a casserole-home… not that I’m criticizing it!  We had a lot of pre-prepared food and it was really good, and it got the job done.  But in the States, there’s more interest in how big your portion is, not how fresh or interesting the ingredients are.

But when I landed in the UK, it was like a new chapter.  Better yet, a new FOOD CHAPTER.  God, I’m starving… I’m gonna go a raid the fridge…

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Severs August 12, 2009 at 12:07 am

    Foreigners callously call British food bad, and point to the superb wealth of good food in Britain which originates in every corner of the rest of the world.

    And yet they forget that the finest bacon in the world is to be found here! Gorgeous lovely Danish bacon.

    Oh hang on, that’s from Denmark. Er, never mind.

    (Can you tell I’m a vegetarian? I try to be witty but sarcasm just leaks into the text. I’ll try harder next time)

  2. Steve Shawcross July 30, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    You’d be hard pressed to find bad British food, amongst all the French, Italian, Chinese, Indian, Korean, Japanese, Spanish restaurants here ;)

    Can’t beat a decent chippy tea though.

  3. discoverunearthed January 2, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Thanks for giving the English some points on food – a rare thing indeed! I’ve never managed to form my bubble and squeak into neat little cakes like that picture but I find a big heap still tastes great, as long as there are plenty of almost burnt brown bits…

  4. yankeebean December 6, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Notfromaroundhere, it sounds like our Mom’s cooked from the same cookbook. I’m a veggie, too… I wonder if that’s why!! LMAO!!

    I’m a big fan of sprouts… and (although I don’t like ‘em) there seems to be peas everywhere.

    I love the phrase ‘meat and two veg’… I remember seeing a pub’s menu with my Dad and it said ‘meat and five veg’. My Dad burst out laughing, he didn’t even know why, but he still says it at dinner sometimes…

  5. notfromaroundhere December 3, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    Oh I so grew up in a casserole home too, anything that involved ground beef with onions, canned corn, tater tots and cream of celery soup. I cringe just thinking about it. No wonder I don’t eat meat now!

    I also admit that I time my gym workouts to coincide with the best cooking shows… lately it’s been my late afternoons and Rosemary Schrager’s school for chefs. I never see who wins each week but I do love to watch her crinkle up her nose at the amateurs. Like the Iron Chef America all amateurs version.

    My problem with English food is malnutrition. I just don’t get enough vegetables from potatoes and cauliflower only, with never a green vegetable except the bizarre mange tout (which always belongs in stir-fries in my book!

  6. peacefulyorkshire December 3, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Ive always wanted to know what Bubble and Squeak was! Glad you filled me in!

    I too grew up Velveeta and Beenie Weenies! Living in Britain has definitly opened my eyes about fresh food! I was at Olive Garden in the states in the summer and excited to see “fresh summer choices “on the menu. I ordered the freshest thing I could find (basil pasta) and instead got a frozen freaky thing that was NOT fresh….. I know it was a chain, but still!!
    Highly disappointing!

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