Monday, 28 December 2009
Good old English vitals.
I hope that you have all recovered from the Christmas blow out. I am not a huge lover of the festive season myself but I do like the grub on offer. It seems to me that traditional Christmas fare represents the best of English food. Roast goose or turkey, game pie, fresh vegetables, all those cold cuts on Boxing Day, steamed puddings, rich fruit cake, mince pies. You have to admit; it almost makes the twin evils of religion and commercialism worth while. I'm minded to go on like this because I have recently revisited George Orwell on English Food and it was something else that the man was right on the money about. But if traditional English food is something to be celebrated, traditional English catering certainly has been pretty dire. In the sixties our eating habits, along with much else, changed dramatically. Chinese and Indian restaurants proved to be a boon because you didn't need to worry about not understanding the menu - nobody did. It seems almost unbelievable now just how hidebound by convention and class was the simple act of eating a meal out. In my own personal journey of discovery two memories stand out. In 1959 I left home and lived above a coffee bar that served spaghetti bolognese. It was the first time that I realized that spaghetti need not come from a tin. By the mid sixties I was working in the Mediterranean and had perhaps got a bit up myself. On a visit home to my parents I informed them that I would prepare a salad. This announcement was greeted with blank stares but undaunted I pressed on and asked if there was any olive oil. "Yes", replied my mother, "there's a bottle of it somewhere, your Dad rubs it in his feet".