What will we eat in England?
When I changed focus from France last year to England this year, I assumed I wouldn’t get near as many Weekend Cooking posts from my new obsession. But, I wouldn’t mind being proved wrong. My very first book on the topic, My Love Affair with England by Susan Allen Toth, has a delightful essay about food. Less than a third of the chapter contains complaints and many of those are from an early trip in the 60s when she traveled the whole country on a student budget while hitching rides.
The rest of the essay is about the good things to eat in England:
- The full English breakfast, once you get used to the idea of cold toast which Toth says is delightful with the amazing English butter and marmalade
- Pub food
- Picnics put together from stops at a food shop and a bakery
- Tea with scones or tiny sandwiches and ginger cookies
- Omelets at supper
- Gourmet food in country house hotels
- Ethnic food in London
- Desserts, saying yes to any offers of cream
And who could resist the disarming names of these desserts? Apricot fool? Summer pudding? Treacle tart? Once, studying the dessert menu at Winyard’s Gap, a thriving pub on the road outside Chedington in west Dorset, I noticed an entry I had never seen before. Its name alone piqued my interest. “Go ahead,” said James. I think he just wanted to hear me order it. When I said gravely to the man behind the bar, “And I’ll finish up with some Spotted Dick,” he didn’t crack a smile, and James only grinned into his half-pint of bitter. What the barman soon placed in front of me was a heavy custardy bowlful of raisin-and-fruit-studded suety pudding, topped with a thick hard sauce. Though it sank into my stomach like a stone, I ate every bite. P. 80
The Missouri Botanical Garden has two classes in its current course offerings taught by an English chef. The first is called The Unofficial Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea. The second has this description:
Strange Name, Great Taste
Toad-in-the-hole, bubble and squeak, spotted dick?! British cuisine is chock full of odd titles that provoke fits of giggling…But what exactly are these linguistic delights? And how can you make them to serve to your family and friends?
My English obsession may be good for a few blog posts, after all.
Enjoy more Weekend Cooking posts today at Beth Fish Reads.
When I lived in the UK in the 80s, I can’t say I found the everyday food very inspiring. But London offered an amazing range of ethnic food. After all, at one time, the sun never set on the British Empire.
I’m looking forward to your adventures.
You can find individual pots of Spotted Dick in Global Foods in Kirkwood, and the Bird’s Custard to go with them (a red, yellow and blue packet mix that required boiling water, not just hot, but boiling)
I do miss the Ploughman’s lunch, and the pub food. Jack Horner’s pub on Tottenham Court Road in London has great savoury pies, you should try it.
I’ll check that out next time I’m in Global — thanks, Ali!
I love your new obsession! I read Toth’s book awhile ago and enjoyed it. From what I hear English cuisine has improved dramatically in the last decade. When I lived there back in the late 70’s, we usually ate ethnic food in London, and saved the British fare for lunch and breakfast. But now with the foodie craze spreading everywhere, there are better chefs and new places serving great British food. And I thoroughly love the fun names for the English dishes regardless of how they taste.
I don’t think their chips served in newspaper can be topped anywhere in the world!
I’ve always been more of an Anglophile, myself, so I’m looking forward to more posts on your new obsession!
Oh my! I could write a book on eating in England!!
REAL ham sandwiches, ploughman’s, full English breakfast with REAL bacon and black pudding, gammon steak, fish and chips, Indian food in Brick Lane and so on and so on!!
P.S. crisps!! and Cadbury chocolate bars!!
I love most English food too. Although not stuff like tripe and onions! Cheers
Omelets for supper reminds me so much of my childhood when my mom would make “breakfast for dinner”! I’m also a huge fan of bubble and squeak!
My Dad is from Scotland so we grew up with a lot of English fare in many of our meals – especially on holidays. We always had traditional English Trifle and English Breakfast on Christmas. I do like a lot of English food and Cadbury’s is my favorite chocolate!
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I love the names of English foods, especially the desserts. Spotted Dick *snicker – snort*. 🙂
I’ve never heard of Toad-in-the-hole, but have the other two.
We love omelets and eat eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
British food is not my favourite but this does sound like a delightful read. Who calls sausages bangers!!!
My husband is British and we eat a lot of British food. We had a cooked breakfast for brunch today–he made it for us, with sausages, bacon, fried eggs, and mushrooms. I have made toad in the hole a few times; it is spectacularly easy.
I don’t have a pudding basin, so spotted dick has not made an appearance in my kitchen just yet! I do love a ploughman’s lunch, and any dessert with cream is fine by me.
When I became a British citizen I hosted a British party, at which I served scones with clotted cream and jam, and other delights. I look forward to hearing more about your British food experiences.
Toad in the hole and bubble and squeak were semi regular meals when I was kid. Quick and easy I’ve made both but not since my kids were all small.
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English food is something I enjoy (in small quanties) when we head to our local pub, but I can’t imagine eating it every day. They do make a mean fish & chips though! I still giggle every time I see spotted dick though 🙂
My family is from England and I spent my early childhood there and have been back intermittently, so British foods are my comfort foods and I really like them. There is a great blog that I have made a few things from: http://theenglishkitchen.blogspot.com/ In addition I use the BBC GoodFood site
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/ and Woman and Home recipe site http://www.womanandhome.com/recipes All excellent for British cooking
When I first moved here I expected all English food to be quite bland but, I think because of The Boy who’s English and the fact that I lived in London, I got to taste lots of delicious, and funny sounding, foods that helped change my mind.
We now have bangers and mash a lot in the winter (with thick onion gravy of course), I make bubble and squeak to use up leftover veggies, and treacle tart with cream is my favourite dessert.
Looking forward to hearing about your experience!
The food of travel is certainly one of the best parts. We went to London last year and while we generally had a simple time of it food wise (perhaps as a break from the nonstop extravagance that was Paris) I did try some English specialities. We did have treacle pudding which was good. I was very keen to try some Wensleydale (too much Wallace and Grommit) but never found any. I look forward to seeing what you find.