Wednesday 1st April 2009
23rd April is St. Georges Day
England on a Plate: A Xenophobe’s nightmare?
When London Mayor, Boris Johnson, recently said "St George's Day is a time to celebrate the very best of everything English …" he couldn’t have been more right. The problem is that the term “English” has come to mean very different things to different people and to some, their views are not very “English” at all.
For those who shy away from traditional history lessons, it could be argued that an interesting analogy of England’s development from the earliest of times can be found in her cuisine.
For instance, the English “egg and chips” brigade probably already know that their beloved potato is no more English than Lemon Grass, having been brought to these shores from South America during the 16th century. However, they may be somewhat surprised to learn that chickens were only introduced to England in the 1st Century AD by Italians (the invading Romans) who, incidentally, also introduced vegetables such as asparagus – now considered a quintessential English ingredient.
Our world famous English kippers are the direct product of invading Vikings (Danish and Norwegian ) during the 9th century who brought with them techniques for smoking food and rabbits aren’t native to England, having been introduced by the Normans (French descendents from Viking stock) in the 11th century.
More recently, the origins of the very English Worcestershire Sauce are firmly entrenched in Asia, when in 1835, Lord Sandy, who came from Worcestershire, commissioned a pair of chemists to reproduce a sauce he had sampled whilst he was in India and little did Dean Mohamet know when he opened the first Indian restaurant in London in 1809 that the 21st Century would witness curry be voted as England’s most popular meal. Not forgetting tea, perceived by many including Oz Clarke and James May, to be England’s national drink, which was adopted from Asia and only became fashionable in England as late as the 19th century.
Even the way we eat has been heavily influenced by “outsiders”. The three-course-meal format is the result of the introduction of Service à la Russe around 1850 from Russia via France. Before that time, all the dishes being served were placed on the table at the same.
Much like England’s society in general, all of these plus many more ingredients, recipes and culinary customs are now an inextricable part of English culture, so far from being viewed as being xenophobic, the celebrating of St. George’s Day should be seen as an acknowledgment of all things, old and new, which make up this great nation of ours including St. George himself who is believed to have been born in Cappadocia (now Turkey).
What better way to celebrate than by cooking a traditional English recipe at home such as the one pictured here, the all time favourite Bread and Butter Pudding - traditionally made with English bread, Caribbean sugar, Mediterranean sultanas and Indonesian nutmeg – now that’s England to a T.
The Bread and Butter Pudding recipe plus high resolution photos can be downloaded at www.recipes4us.co.uk/Press%20recipes%20with%20Pictures.htm. For more English recipes and information about English culinary history visit www.Recipes4us.co.uk.
Note to Editors
Recipes4us.co.uk was launched in 2000 and is an independent and privately owned UK recipe and food information site covering many aspects of food, from growing to cooking.
For further information please contact Florence Sandeman.