Saturday, July 28, 2012

English Food - Not what you think!

This week I wanted to share our dining experience in England.  Let's face it, England doesn't have the best reputation for food.  Everyone has criticized it from Julia Child onward.  It is often said to be bland, dull, and badly presented and served by staff that are down right rude.  But the country's farmers markets and celebrity chef restaurants are slowly turning around the English culinary reputation.   To read more about why the food developed this poor reputation, check this blog out

From our travels to England this summer (London and the South Downs, East and West Sussex) we found England to have a bounty of wonderfully prepared, fresh, locally grown foods.  These dishes are influenced by the British Empire's importation of ingredients and ideas from places such as North America, China, and India.  The ingredients have also been influenced by the local climate, which is wet and cool much of the time but produces lovely grazing pastures and vegetable gardens.  To be sure, it is not the Mediterranean, but even this cool climate produces much that can be enjoyed on your dinner plate. 

Fresh produce markets and local butchers offered up fresh ingredients of all types. The country's history of women producing jams and jellies seemed to be going strong.  Good food is there for the choosing.  But as is told on this school teacher's blog, not all of the locals are partaking of what's available to them and she provides a entertaining blog entry you might enjoy.

As you can see from the photos here (you can click through to the Picasa Web album for descriptions of each item), the food we found throughout the land was quite excellent from pub food, to the classic English tea tent and into some of the regions best restaurants. Never did we have anything but a wonderful meal.  During our trip we enjoyed classic meals, such as fish and chips, which were once urban street food eaten from newspaper with salt and malt vinegar, along with meat pies and sausages with mashed potatoes, onions, and gravy.  These are now matched in popularity by curries from India and Bangladesh, and stir-fries based on Chinese and Thai cuisine.  Italian cuisine is everywhere as was fast food from the United States.  London's Chinatown offered a myriad of specialty restaurants and were both clean and authentic.  And as you can see, the French have influenced many of the restaurants in their preparations and presentations.

Overall, our dining experience was quite excellent with good food, reasonably priced both in large cities and small.  If you visit the south of England you will find that its reputation for bad food has been overcome.

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