Stodgy Grey Goodness

Image Credit: Matthias Meckel

Despite it’s horrid reputation, Nathan Young reckons there’s something special about British cooking

British cooking is subject to longstanding campaign of slander, where it is accused of being grey, stodgy, and overboiled sludge. No self respecting person of culture would go near a British restaurant serving British cuisine. Even in Britain, high end restaurants serve foreign, usually French, food. Quintessentially British food is reserved for pie shops, take aways, and pubs. Places where the supposedly unwashed and uncultured, or at the very least the intoxicated, eat.

That there is an array of fine foods from across the continent is a given. A defence of British cooking does not necessitate dunking on French food, though it is amusing how much they pay chefs for the express purpose of not cooking their meat. What is so great about British food is precisely what lends itself to being great in pubs and takeaways-it is homely and filling. It is stodgy, yes, but stodge means carbohydrates, and carbs are beloved for a reason.

Even in this republic, rightly proud of its opposition to the British empire, can British food flourish. Despite the collective national jape of pretending that fish ‘n’ chips is Italian so as to not have to admit to liking something English, chippers are a British innovation found in every town in Ireland. And it’s no wonder it’s popular, Just look at any of the classic British pub dinners; Roast beef with potatoes and yorkshire puddings, fish ‘n’ chips perfectly crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, then drenched in salt and vinegar. Pies and pasties stuffed with meat, offal, and gravy. All served with a pint of room temperature bitter ale. For dessert, a pudding made with treacle, toffee and fruit, served in a bowl of custard.

British cooking isn’t fine dining, it’s simple yet wholesome cooking, and it deserves to be respected for that.