Friday, 20 February 2015

A taste of Britain

I’ve written about food several times in this blog; talking about things we have come across in different places. I thought it was about time I wrote about some English foods and what better time to do it than national chip week.
 
 
I love fish and chips. Deep fried batter as a coating for white fish and deep fried thick-cut potato slices is a national dish. Many people consider them a seaside treat and they always seem to taste best eaten straight out of the paper wrappings. The previous day's newspapers were still being used up to the 1980's as chip wrappings. Usually now they come in a polystyrene or cardboard box but there is a restaurant locally which serves fish and chips on a plate with a bit of mock newspaper underneath the food and of course with mushy peas and tomato sauce. It seems I'm not the only fan, apparently during the second world war ministers went to great lengths to ensure that fish and chips were never rationed because of the possible effect on the nations morale.

Fish and chips

 - photo edited now that I have found the one I was looking for!
 
This week is also Shrove Tuesday. It is a day in the Christian calendar to use up the luxury items in your kitchen ready for Lent. In Britain we make the pancakes with white flour, milk, eggs and a pinch of salt then top them off with sugar, dried fruit, lemon juice or golden syrup. The ‘proper’ way to turn the pancake in order to cook the second side is to toss it into the air catching it again in the pan as it lands – easier said than done!
 
Pancakes
 
I feel that I should mention bacon butties at this point. Slices of thick bacon and a fried egg between buttered slices of bread. This was one of the things we missed whilst we were in mainland Europe and have enjoyed since we have been back.

Another food which is very much a regional speciality is pasties. If you have only had the packaged variety before, you may not realise how good a proper pasty tastes. Traditionally they are made with beef, potato and vegetables inside a half-moon shaped, pastry case. As the ultimate lunch snack for tin miners in the past, it comes complete with a thick crust to use as a handle to save their food being covered in filth. Although they are Cornish, the first recorded recipe was actually written in Plymouth and there are many nice pasties to be had in both Devon and Cornwall. One shop we went to has an open kitchen and the deckhands loved watching the pastry being rolled and the fillings put on top before they were shaped and crimped ready for cooking.


 
We liked the name of this pasty shop where we watched them make the pasties.
These ones were scrumptious.


In common with other ‘end of the world’ places like Brittany and Finisterre hearty, calorie-laden foods feature heavily on the menu in Devon. Clotted cream, biscuits, fluffy sponge cakes, creamy ice cream, bright yellow butter… I’ll stop there before I dribble on the key board. Apologies if I have missed out your favourite English food, feel free to comment in favour of your favourite!

 
Gingerbread men - an old favourite.

 
 
 
 

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