Hang Out The Flags!

29 Apr


Last year with the Silver Jubilee and the Olympics I think we did rather well at national enthusiasm! It was hard not to succumb to a frenzied bout of bunting clad flag waving. But this year things are pretty much back to normal. It was St. Georges day last week and while there was a flurry of morris dancing here and there, it came and went in a rather self- deprecating ‘lets not make a fuss’ way.

It seems that we continue to be a bit embarrassed by our food. Having been the butt of many jokes by some of our european neighbours we often fail to embrace our own cuisine and the hugely rich culinary heritage of our little island. When I lived in France it was not uncommon for friends to eat before visiting us for dinner (to be on the safe side I suppose!) and for the butcher to part with a leg of lamb with great reluctance, terrified that I might boil it boil it! I was also once treated to the translation of ‘Bon Appetit’ as being Good Luck!

So what follows is a Gastronomy..an A to Z of some of our national treasures, food
fit for slaying a dragon!

A is for Afternoon Tea; in wicker chairs on a lawn. I once survived a cycling holiday fuelled only by afternoon tea. Cucumber sandwiches, scones cream and jam and a plentiful cake stand.

B is for Buttie, bacon of course with Brown Sauce, the unequalled dawn fortification of the returning reveller. Also found on wet campsites and frosty markets.

C is for crumpets toasted on the fire, dripping with butter. Best eaten on the sofa under a blanket.

D is for Dumplings. The best part of a stew!

E is for Eton Mess , as gorgeous to make as it is to eat, the messier the better!

F is for The Full English breakfast, Fish and Chips and the Fray Bentos pie, legend has it that a bachelor could put one under the bonnet of his Morris Oxford and it would be hot by the time he returned home!

G is for Gin, with tonic, lemon and clinking cubes of ice which is lazily drunk on a riverbank in summer. It is also for gingerbead; houses, filled with sweets and little people with hair made of icing; and slabs of sticky gingerbread, warm from the oven on bonfire night .

H is for Horseradish, herring rollmops , Hot cross buns, and high tea, even a singing Hinnie on the griddle.

I is for indian food, apparently the nation’s favourite, So heres to takeaways and your eyes being bigger than your stomach!

J is for Jelly in tin moulds and party bowls and Jam tarts cooling in their tins, like jewelled caskets.

K is of course for kedgeree and kidneys served in silver dishes in an edwardian country house!

L is for steaming plates of lancashire hot pot, and little pots of lemon curd with gingham hats sold at the village fete.

M is for Mince pies, Marmite and Maids of honour, (the dainty sweet cheese tarts named after the ladies in waiting to Queen Caroline in 1727 and whose recipe is a closely guarded secret! Oh and Mint sauce.. which is inexplicable really!

N is for a NICE CUP OF TEA! to strengthen and soothe, surely anything is possible with a cup of tea in your hand.

O is for orange marmalade on crisp kites of cold toast and Paddington Bear too of course, (“sticky bears is extra”!)We can’t have one without the other.

P is for Pies; pie and mash shops, and pork pies with english mustard. It is also for puddings steamed in muslin cloths and Picnics, from a ploughman’s lunch in a rucksack to Ratty and Mole’s hamper in Wind in the Willows, everything tastes better out of doors!

Q is for queen of puddings, a dish which was apparently created for Queen Victoria which means that we have been serving up breadcrumbs, custard, jam and browned meringue for over 170 years What is it i’m missing?!

R is for Roast Beef, spitting in the oven while you read the sunday papers.

S is for Scones with a plop of clotted cream and strawberry jam, but in which order?! It is also for Stilton, rich and smelly with a glass of port, and stargazy pie, how can something which sounds so beautiful look so frightening?!

T is for Treacle tart , Toad in the hole and Trifle(the sherry added with a wobbly hand!) served for sunday tea in a cut glass bowl.

U is for Upsidedown cake, For real nostalgia it has to be tinned pineapple with glace cherry centres.

V is for Victoria sandwich cake, Proudly plain!

W is for Wensleydale cheese crumbly and tangy, lovely with carrot chutney.
X is for kisses ( a bit of a stretch this I know!) those little biscuits made of almonds and coconut that melt in your mouth.

Y is for Yorkshire pudding ,traditionally served to hungry Yorkshire-men before the beef to fill them up a bit and make the meat go further!

Z is for zoo, and makes me think of the huge buns Christopher Robin brought to feed the elephants when he went to the zoo!
So there it is, a Hip Hip Hooray to English food and a rather quiet cricket clap!

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