There’s an old cliche that I still hear whenever I tell anyone that I’m going to England, “OMG, I’ve heard the food is horrible “. To which I say, ” I’ve never had a bad meal there”. That is such an old tale, really.
I tell anyone that asks that you can get any type of food in the world there. This trip we are taking the time to eat Indian food on Brick Lane! I have heard many times that this is the place to get the best Indian food in the world. I can’t imagine it could be better than actually being in India, but I’m willing to give it a try! Of course, you can count on the fish and chips to be the best anywhere. That goes for cream tea and high tea as well, there is no contest.
Marcie and I went to an “English tea shop” for high tea in a little town on the outskirts of San Diego. It was really well done and you could tell that the proprietress tried her hardest to make it authentic. It was very good, but there was just something missing. Neither of us could put our finger on it. It may just have been the atmosphere but it wasn’t the same.
Years ago at the bank where I worked, I had this English gentleman customer that was the epitome of what I had always imagined an English gentleman to be like. He had white hair, a goatee, wore a plaid cap and vest and walked with a cane. Just before my first trip over I asked him if he would like me to bring him back some real British tea. He looked at me with a wry smile and told me that “it isn’t the tea my dear, it’s the water.”
Some of the foods that I cannot imagine eating anywhere else and having it be as good are: British bacon, scones, roasted potatoes, fish and chips, sticky toffee pudding, Victoria sponge and cranachan. There is a never ending list, but I haven’t had the pleasure of trying everything.
I also hear it about the drinks, especially the beer. I hear things like “What do they know, they drink their beer warm”, “You can’t get a cold drink, they don’t have ice”. It’s all so silly. People should judge from their own experience.
Now, I’m not a big drinker of alcohol. I do like red wine with a meal. I haven’t tried the beer there, but I imagine that it’s a matter of taste. Some people like it with more flavor and some like the lighter lagers. I have tasted a lemon shandy though, which is surprisingly refreshing. Half ale and half lemonade, completely British! I’ve also had barley water, which I had never heard of before I went there. Some drinks that make me instantly think “England” are tea, Pimms, bitters, ale and cider. Maybe cider because the UK has the highest per capita consumption of cider, as well as the largest cider-producing companies in the world!
My guess is that the service men that were stationed in England during World War II came home with stories about how awful the food was there. It’s not surprising really, think about it. England is a small island that was pretty much cut off during most of the war. They had what was already there and what they could grow on the island. I don’t think they were getting deliveries of fresh food from anywhere during those years. I’m pretty sure that since the weather there is similar to the Pacific Northwest where I live, the growing season is pretty short.
All I’m saying is keep an open mind, try everything once and don’t make assumptions from what you hear, especially from people that have never even been there. I guess that’s good advice for everything in life!