By guest blogger Patricia Burroughs
Wait, you think British food sucks. Really?
I have to ask this in the most polite way possible. Have you ever even been to the British Isles? This is one of my pet peeves, and if you’ve been there and can still say it sucks, well you know your own taste buds, and I respect that. But I love British food. I could eat pub grub daily and happily, just for starters!
I have to assume you never ate fish and chips in Great Britain, where even the worst fish and chips make our American versions pale in comparison. And you certainly never had any at the pub in Polperro where we not only had fried haddock--crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside, with lashings of malt vinegar. It was all so perfect it brought tears to our eyes. Surprisingly to us as first-time pub-goers, it was served with a side dish of steamed and buttered broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, all fresh from local gardens. In a pub. Local fish, local veg, local ale. And this is typical, not unusual, of pub grub.
I also have to assume you never sat in a tea room in Devon and ate dense but flaky scones, hot and dripping with melting clotted cream and sweet strawberry jam made from local strawberries.
Evidently you haven’t enjoyed the bliss of steak-and-ale pie with rich brown gravy, tender beef, delicious flaky crust, and yes, those ubiquitous fresh veg from local gardens. And yes, this is at the local pub with walls two feet thick and low ceilings and a history that goes back four centuries.
Certainly I must assume you haven’t had slices of rare roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, or lamb stew with thick crusty bread, or Cornish pasties of every description from savoury to sweet.
And we haven’t even touched the full monty, the Full English [or Welsh, or Scottish, or Cornish] breakfast. Regional variations exist. Oat porridge and oat cakes in Scotland, for example. Beans aren’t present everywhere, but when they are, they are a tastier addition than you might expect. Grilled tomato and mushrooms, bacon cut from the loin instead of the streaks, black currant preserves or strawberry jam or orange marmalade, are all fairly standard along with eggs, and don’t forget the milk and butter that are richer than any you’ve had Stateside.
You couldn’t have had any of these things and still believe that British food is inferior, and that makes me very sad for you, because you haven’t had some of the most delicious food on this round globe of ours.
The odd thing about choosing to write on this subject is that it doesn’t play in easily to the book I’m here to flog, a dark epic fantasy with romance and Young Adult crossover appeal. I haven’t spent a lot of words writing about food in This Crumbling Pageant, but the words I’ve written were written from a place of deep respect and longing to be there eating alongside my characters.
When the memory of cheese sets Persephone’s mouth to watering, I know the flavor and texture of that cheese, superior to any I’ve had elsewhere. When she bites into an apple and tastes those tart juices, I remember them, and the wickedly strong apple scrumpy they create.
And when she and the villain have declared an uneasy truce….
The long-fingered hand holding out a rustic earthenware mug of ale should have surprised her. She should be alarmed that he had caught her unaware. She remembered not trusting anything he might offer her. Now, she took it as politely—not desperately, no, she refused to let desperation show—as if it were tea and he the queen. “My most gracious thanks,” she murmured before drinking deeply and gratefully.
I know exactly how delicious that ale is, even if I wasn’t starving when it was offered me.
I’ve made myself hungry and there is not a British pub within a nine hour flight of Dallas. Oh, well, more research is necessary for the Fury Triad. I’ll find a way to get my fix soon!
Award-winning screenwriter and best selling novelist Patricia Burroughs (aka Pooks) is a Nicholl Fellow and a proud member of Book View Café. Pooks loves dogs, books, movies, and American football. A lifelong Anglophile, she treasures her frequent travels in the British Isles researching The Fury Triad, the epic fantasy that has taken over her life and heart. She and her high school sweetheart husband are living happily ever after in their hometown of Dallas, Texas.