A completely personalised and random list
There’s a lot of negative news out there and coronavirus lockdown restrictions haven’t been exactly a bundle of fun. Some of us have had to develop our culinary skills a little further than usual in these trying times. Some of us may have turned to the comfort food we crave. It got me thinking about the food of my childhood. I was born and grew up in the north of England. In the 80’s, when globalisation was beginning to take place, and people began to travel further afield on holiday, the range of foodstuffs on offer gradually began to increase. Nowadays any reasonably sized supermarket has a huge variety of goods, much of it imported from abroad, as our culinary tastes have broadened. But what about food we consider to be quintessentially English ?
In no particular order, here are some of my favourite typically English foodstuffs from my childhood. Maybe I should warn you first that this post is not for anyone strictly controlling their calorie intake. But it makes for divine comfort food.
- I know it’s a cliché but I have the best memories of steaming hot battered fish and chips with lashings of malt vinegar, brought home by Mum or Dad as a treat . The first takeaway I ever sampled – before takeaway was even a thing. Or as an adult, buying this tasty comforting fare, best eaten out of the wrapping paper on the way home after a few drinks in the pub. Pure bliss.
- Cheese – my personal favoutite is tangy, crumbly Cheshire cheese. But there’s an immense range of around 700 English cheeses you can sample …..it’s not all about Cheddar. And there are some great names ….Cornish Yarg, Dorset Drum, Fine Fettle Yorkshire and the marvellously named Stinking Bishop, whose name orginates from Stinking Bishop pears, which are used to make an alcoholic drink known as perry, in which the cheese is steeped while it matures. In turn, Stinking Bishop Pears are named after Mr. Frederick Bishop, who first cultivated them. Mr Bishop is said to have once shot at his kettle when it did not heat water quickly enough for his liking. Interesting guy.
- Ok, English weather in general can be pretty dismal but when conditions are right and it’s sunny, the sky is blue, it’s around 24 degrees and there is no more than a gentle breeze, an English summer’s day is not far from perfect. And top it off with a 99 from the ice-cream van. A 99, for those of you not in the know, is a soft ice-cream cone with a Cadbury’s chocolate flake. Heaven.
- The full English breakfast. Typically consists of bacon, sausages, fried eggs, baked beans, fried tomatoes, hash browns, fried bread, black pudding and any thing else you care to throw in. Yes, it involves a lot of frying. That’s why it’s also known as a fry-up. It also contains a huge amount of calories. But it is a tried and tested hangover cure, possibly because you are unable to move anyway if you scoff the lot. Variations include the Full Scottish, Full Irish and Full Welsh breakfast.
- Mince pies. These are a Christmas delicacy and if you are unfamiliar with them, you would probably assume they are savoury….but no, they are made with sweet mincemeat consisting of dried fruit with spices. Orginally, however, in the 13th century mince pies were much bigger, generally rectangular in shape and surprise, surprise, they did contain meat well as fruit and spice. By the time of Queen Victoria, the mince pie had evolved into the the sweet- flavoured individually sized pie that we know and love today…. the mouthwatering taste of a traditional English Christmas.
So there you have some of my favourite food treats from my country of birth.
7 replies on “A calorie-laden trip through English food”
This post has made me really hungry! I too love battered fish. I also really like toad in the hole and I love the pastry that you get with sausage rolls and Cornish pasties. I must confess, though, that quite a lot of the things that I most enjoy are foreign, like chicken tikka masala and pizza. I guess this is a bit like what we were saying about our language – we have benefited from being quite an open country that embraces food and styles of cooking from abroad, meaning we now have an amazing choice when deciding what to eat. I sometimes feel that I maybe have too much choice as it can be very hard to decide what to buy when there are so many delicious things out there!
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PS. I must confess my utter ignorance of English cheese. A shame really. Must do something on my next trip. I hear the Shropshire cheese is highly rated.
Now the Chesire cheese caught my attention. Does it smile?
Mmm … crumbly, tangy Cheshire cheese. I will check it out for smiles next time I have some…..
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Fish and chips is as English as apple pie is American I guess.
I am a big fan of English breakfast. I draw the line at oxtail soup…
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The scone? Apple pie?
Okay, I’m in Cornwall. The pasty.
I could go on for a lot longer Ellen, but then again there’s always the possibility of a part two….. and thanks for three great suggestions !