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.