Tag Archive | English food

More Memorable British Meals

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On my annual treks to England to visit my mum, I take every opportunity to enjoy the British cooking.  Snide comments and even entire comedy routines focus on the idea that the English do not have good food.  This concept is a myth, probably born of xenophobia.  Anglo food is wonderful!  I always look for a chance to get in at least one Full English Breakfast.  This meal follows a similar formula no matter where it is served in the United Kingdom.  The name is merely modified to suit the locale:  English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh, and occasionally adapted to local traditions.

The basic menu is two eggs, usually fried sunny side up, or any way the diner desires, toast (lots of toast!) with butter and jams, sausage, the bacon of the UK which more closely resembles Canadian bacon than the American sort, baked beans, potatoes either fried or made into hash browns, grilled mushrooms and grilled tomato.  This is accompanied by pots of tea or coffee and some fruit juice.  The full breakfast is the staple of bed and breakfast morning fare.

More often in Scotland, Ireland and Wales I have been offered black pudding as well, which is blood sausage. Some turn their noses up at black pudding but I enjoy it, especially soaked in juice from the baked beans. The full breakfast is sometimes cooked completely on a grill (except for the beans) and features thick slices of grilled bread instead of toast.  Grilling the bread also is more common outside of England.

The Full English Breakfast pictured above was served at a lovely bed and breakfast, the Denewood Hotel, in Boscombe near Bournemouth.  Black pudding was not in the offerings there.

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For me, a visit of Britain is not complete without a roast lamb dinner.  Lamb is not so popular or well known here in America, although excellent fresh New Zealand lamb and locally sourced lamb is readily available to us.  The best lamb is young, before it develops the strong smell of mutton.  Nothing can beat good, young lamb for flavor and tenderness.  It is truly delicious!  To purchase the best lamb, choose smaller-sized cuts. Two little leg-of-lamb roasts are a better bet than one large one.  The larger cuts are from older animals and more likely to have a sheep odor.

The British roast typically served includes the slow-roasted meat with its drippings gravy and large pieces of roast potatoes.  b3On the side are massive bowls filled with a wide variety of carefully segregated cooked vegetables including carrots, turnips, parsnips, string beans, peas, squashes and various members of the brassica genus (my favorites are broccoli and savoy cabbage,) and occasionally Yorkshire pudding–pop-overs to us Americans.

After eating my fill of a roast dinner, I can never do justice to the dessert offerings.  Just as well, since I should not have too much sugar.  The roast dinner pictured was served at The Acorn pub and restaurant on The Square in Birchington, England.  Sadly, this establishment will be closing soon as the owners are retiring.  I can also heartily recommend the roast dinner at The Smuggler, another fine old eatery located on the Canterbury Road near the square in Birchington.

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Visiting England

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This is written from Birchington in Kent, England where I’ve been visiting my mum for the past few days.  I wanted to share a couple of my favorite British foods.  Above are Scotch Eggs.  I LOVE these.  They are not readily available in America, but are so common in England they can be purchased in the cold food cases of small shops, even drug stores.  A Scotch egg is made by wrapping a hard boiled egg in a shell of spiced pork sausage meat.  The meat is lightly breaded and the whole assembly is deep fried until the sausage is cooked.  These eggs may sound peculiar, but believe me, they are delicious!  Eaten warm or cold, two make a very filling lunch or breakfast.DSC02742

Another must meal while I visit Britian is fish and chips.  The country is heavily populated with shops selling breaded, fried fish filet with thick cut potato fries.  The meal can be served to go, wrapped in paper, including old newspaper.  I prefer to eat a nice fish and chips meal at a sit-down restaurant, preferably with a cup of tea.  The meal above was serve with mushy peas, a side dish of dried green peas that have been soaked in soda water overnight and boiled to soften.  They have the taste and consistency of a very thick green pea soup, delicious.  I like my chips seasoned with malt vinegar and salt.  This particular fish and chips meal was at the Bournemouth branch of the Harry Ramsden restaurant chain.  These people know how to do this dish right.  The batter coating is perfect:  light, crispy and no absorbed fat.  My mother swears their chips are the best she’s ever had (and she’s eaten a lot of chips!)