Crumbling allegiances to British food

I get raised eyebrows by the pair when I respond to the question “what do you miss about Britain?” with “the food”. But it’s true. Somehow, perhaps in an effort to stem the flood of immigrants, a myth has been perpetuated that the only food available in the UK is overcooked vegetables, slabs of meat and inedible puddings with strange names. In reality, the countryside is dotted with gastro-pubs offering superb menus; London has the staggering range of cuisine you’d expect of a city of 7 million; and the array of produce and ingredients in supermarkets and specialty shops is the boon of proximity to the Continent and beyond.

That having been said, the Guardian recently offered a grisly list of traditional British dishes that are falling off the nation’s menus, either because they don’t suit the low fat high speed preparation needs of contemporary cooks or because their ingredients – offal (such as calves’ feet or pig cheeks) or game (such as rooks or hare) – are no longer popular.

I was sad to see fruit crumble among the Ten most threatened puddings:

  1. Calf’s foot jelly
  2. Junket
  3. Sussex pond pudding (suet and lemon)
  4. Kentish pudding pie (rice and pastry)
  5. Dorset dumplings (apples and suet)
  6. Lardy cake
  7. Simnel cake
  8. Malvern pudding (fruit crumble)
  9. Singin hinnies (fried scone)
  10. Spotted dick

For those who don’t number fruit crisps on their hit list, there’s a wonderful recipe for Peach and Blackberry Crisp (I made it with apples, blackberries and blueberries and it was fabulous) that has pecans in the topping.

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