Friday, October 8, 2010
I've been ill a bit this week, as have half my family, and my appetite has diminished somewhat. It's coming back now and I have that constant, gnawing feel of hunger than can make me quite irritable and prone to being provocative. Which probably explains my next statement: British food is the best in the world.
Now I realise a few of you might have dropped your bacon sandwiches in shock at the statement. British food, like British teeth, has a bit of a bad reputation. I think this dates back a few decades when fresh produce was rare, great plates of stodge were served up, bland vegetables were boiled within an inch of their lives, and tinned food was king. Though even back then there were those, like George Orwell, who were as eager to sing the praises of steak and kidney pudding as the French were of coq au vin or the Italians were of pasta carbonara.
You see, I can go to France and enjoy eating crepes, coquille st jacques, and all manner of culinary treats. Yet after a week or so of rich, creamy sauces I began to think of the food I could get back in London, and the variety. I begin to crave a curry. Often it's the first thing I order when I get back, sometimes before the bags are unpacked. Or a sinus-clearing, hot and sour Thai. I can enjoy a few days in Spain or Italy, but all that pasta and tapas gets a bit a dull. I want to have some sushi to break the monotony. A spice-laden Moroccan tagine, or some fiery Portuguese chicken. I love meat and potatoes done well in the States - and in the States they do meat and potatoes very well - but finding a decent Indian restaurant can be a real challenge. In London they are everywhere (as well as some rotten ones.) London has all the above, and more - there's Lebanese, Eritrean, Persian, Caribbean and Chinese restaurants as well as Spanish, Italian, Indian, French, Portuguese, Thai and Moroccan within a mile of my flat, available to eat-in or takeaway. I've reached the point where settling for one nation's cuisine seems the height of boredom. The French are rightly very proud of their cooking, but I do wish they'd embrace a bit of heat and spice in some of their dishes. Worst is Greece. Nice for sure, but their indifference to the food of other cultures means one can get very bored of calamari very quickly.
London has all the produce you might need. There's even a US deli in case I want to pay £7 for a box of Lucky Charms (I'll pass) or a cajun spice rub (which is great). At home I'm able to get the spices and ingredients for any dish I would wish to make, from any country you can mention. Britain today is place of infinite culinary variety. British food is international food. It reminds me of Peter Sellers. No real identity of his own beyond the many characters he played, but brilliant because of that. 'Peter Sellers, there is no such man!' Blake Edwards once said. 'British food, there is no such thing!' I might say, which is why I think it's the best in the world.
at 9:39 AM