An appetite for simplicity

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Scotch Eggs a taste of British cuisine Credit: Steve Werth flickr

THE days are gone when British food was regarded by foreigners as drab and unimaginative. 

I have never gone along with this sentiment anyway, not because I had nothing to compare it with, but largely because the Brits have always used to down to earth, simple but wholesome ingredients without the need – or resources in war time – to tart up their food with wine, exotic spices or eye of newt.

Food, like wine and art, has always attracted its own clique of snobs and the iffy reputation of British food was in part, I suspect, brought about by the propaganda of our French neighbours in there perpetual ‘we are better than the English’ campaign, or the Yanks who seem to think that anything without ketchup and barbeque sauce is tasteless.

But with many celebrity British chefs strutting the world stage today, that perception is changing and let’s face it, poulet frites is just chicken and chips with a poncy sounding name.

And whatever the French is for Beef bourguignon?

One of the worst meals I have ever had was at a bistro not far from Notre Dame in Paris.  The only thing Michelin about that restaurant, was the cause of death of a chicken that looked and tasted like road-kill

But that simply illustrates that each country has a good and a bad side to its cuisine.

Imagination, quality of ingredients and preparational skills are the things that matter.

Admittedly in these modern and affluent times, British cooking has adopted a much more adventurous approach, but it is fascinating to see how many of the traditional Brit favourites have caught the attention of other countries and more particularly, our American cousins.

My best friend lives in Arizona having retired last year and moved from California.

He is a foodie and an above average cook, and has always been interested in trying out new recipes especially those that require the freshest ingredients.

But over the years the grub that his neighbours and colleagues have raved about and come back for more of, are items like his home baked pork pies,  sausage rolls and Yorkshire pudding.

His first contributions to the American palate were Scotch Eggs that he presented at the opening day of his local yacht club. As he put it: ‘They must have gone down well because none came back up’.  So well in fact that he ended up making them at regular intervals over the next twelve years.

The same thing has happened with his pork pies which are extremely hard to obtain in the US, and when they are found, lack the traditional jelly and unique flavor.

Speaking for myself, there are times when all I really crave is a nice steak pie on a sizeable bed of onion mash with lots of fresh garden veg and homemade gravy.

That’s proper food.

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