Tuesday, April 5, 2011

English Cuisine 101

photo credit
While living in London my culinary education included, but was not limited to, the following:
  • Indian food
  • Chinese food beyond the universe of Panda Express
  • Italian food beyond the universe of The Olive Garden
  • Classical french cuisine (my step-mom attended London's Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute while we were living there and several times a week I came home from school to a five star dinner)
  • Exotic fruit (lychee, passion fruit, physalis (gooseberries), guava, etc.)
  • Every type of chocolate they sold in the local grocery store, my sister Vauna and I systematically tried them all
  • Yogurt that embarasses the American world of Yoplait
  • Every sort of cheese imaginable
  • sparkling water as an everyday beverage
  • (herbal) tea as a regular, after-dinner or tea time tradition
The absence of traditional English cuisine from this list is glaring. I don't know what to say except that the food was unfamiliar, and compared to the above list of delicious foods, bangers and mash just didn't seem like a priority. But in the years since Karen and John got married and started making their annual pilgrimage to my house for a few weeks each year, my English culinary universe has expanded.

John is the kitchen wizard in their family, and it has become a tradition for him to prepare an English breakfast (beans, toast, sausage, bacon, eggs over easy, grilled tomato and mushroom) and a traditional roast dinner (roast chicken, vegetables and yorkshire pudding) at least once during their annual visit. But as a guest in their home for a week, the boundaries of my English cuisine awareness were pushed even further to include:

  • Marmite (yeast spread) on toast
  • Caro- a hot drink that is a popular caffeine-free coffee substitute
  • Lime soda- lime flavored syrup mixed with sparkling water
  • Bacon sandwiches- bacon served on buttered bread with either red sauce (ketchup) or brown sauce (a mysterious, unspicy steak-sauce sort of concotion that I loved!)
  • Meat flavored crisps (potato chips)
  • Sausage roll- minced sausage braided inside puff pastry
  • Fish and chips (can you believe I had never once tasted fish and chips, England's pride and joy?)
I know this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of becoming literate in traditional English cuisine, but it was a good start and a whole lot of fun. On my next trip I intend to investigate treacle sponge, spotted dick...and any other English dessert that sounds vaguely obscene to an uninformed, curious foreigner like me.

What is the most adventurous food you have ever tried?


  1. i love love love treacle and spotted dick. I have 2 can in my pantry right now. yummmmmm-o

  2. Really? Where did you grow up again?

  3. right?! please remember my fathers wife is a brit. it's the only thing I request when they go "home".


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