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British Food
February 20, 2005 5:32 PM   Subscribe

A nice spread of oft maligned British food left me wondering (after a tidy breakfast of bangers and mash) if Beano was an English creation -- flatulence and all that (watch out for the first mp3) -- but apparently it isn't: the inventor appears to be American. According to this author, Henri Cartier-Bresson termed Britain "the most exotic place in the world," and I think I agree. Probably this tastes fabulous if you're hungry... please make mine well-done.
posted by indices (42 comments total)

 
Beano is probably in direct response to Taco Bell.
posted by zardoz at 6:09 PM on February 20, 2005


The Beano an English creation?

Since when has Dundee been in England?

(Enquiring Scottish geographers want to know what you've done with their fourth-largest city ...)
posted by cstross at 6:16 PM on February 20, 2005


Thank you, indices, for sticking up for British food. I spent the first 25 years of my life in Blighty and have always maintained there's nothing wrong with British food per se, and the best British restaurants are the equal of any, anywhere in the world, although it is true that the average British food establishment is likely to be well below the quality of the average, say, American equivalent. But that's not the same thing.

I've heard the British food is bad mantra repeated so often in the US that I have developed a response - the truth of the matter is that the staples of American food are more often derived from British cuisine (a phrase I use without irony, thank you very much) than any other.

Take for example the typical US loaf of bread - it's surely could never be mistaken for French bread, or Italian bread, or any of the other commonly recognized breads of the Old World. It is, however, essentially cognate with the standard British loaf of bread. Same thing with the standard American cooked breakfast - bacon, eggs, etc. Sure, it has its differences from the classic "full English", but it is closer to the British tradition than, again, any other European's day starter.

"As American as apple pie" - yeah, except the apple pie as it is known in the US was probably an English innovation. Steak? Roast beef? Hell - ask the French! Even the mighty Larousse Gastronomique openly pays English cookery its due.

And the kicker? "American cheese" aka process cheese. Where was it invented?

Need you ask?
posted by kcds at 6:27 PM on February 20, 2005 [1 favorite]


That meal in a can is going to give me nightmares tonight...
posted by mervin_shnegwood at 6:27 PM on February 20, 2005


Related NYT article from December: Nothing Frightens a New Yorker Like British Food.
posted by mediareport at 6:43 PM on February 20, 2005


except the apple pie as it is known in the US was probably an English innovation

ISTR that, like a lot of desserts, it originated with the Pennsylvania Dutch.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:45 PM on February 20, 2005


I'm feeling a little misty eyed looking at that splendid English fare, living as I do in Thailand. Sure that gallery doesn't look so pretty on a plate, but it all mostly tastes great...though that particular meal in a can may be a step too far.

(There's a much nicer meal in a can - HP's All Day Breakfast)

By the way if there's one kind of food that leads to chroinic flatulence it's Thai food.
posted by ldma at 6:59 PM on February 20, 2005


I have a vivid memory of being served canned peas in England. They were grey, swimming in green food colouring, and laced with mint! Our hosts were surprised that we didn't eat peas with mint out in the colonies.
posted by 327.ca at 7:16 PM on February 20, 2005


black pudding
n.

A French black sausage made of pork and seasoned pig's blood. Also called boudin noir.

I remember Jamie Oliver once fixed something he called a "fry up" on the Naked Chef. There may have been some things in the pan that wouldn't have caused a heart attack, but they were few in number.
posted by ontic at 7:24 PM on February 20, 2005


The apple pie may be claimed as American, but it was being eaten in England decades before we shipped the first bunch of surplus-to-requirements religious extremists out to your east coast.
posted by Hogshead at 7:29 PM on February 20, 2005


Scotland's comics are better than in England, and so is our killer food: we deep-fry pizzas and candy. Beat that, world.

Highest incidence of heart disease in Europe? Shurely no connection.
posted by bonaldi at 7:30 PM on February 20, 2005


Oh my ... this post has hurled me back to my childhood in Broughty Ferry. The "Beano Annual", Blue Peter, and Cadbury's Christmas chocolates!
posted by ericb at 8:05 PM on February 20, 2005


All I can say with reference to Scotland is: Haggis. In spite of its, ah, mildly off-putting appearance, ingredients and preparation, the stuff is delicious. Especially when washed down with a few drams of Laphroaig.
posted by nyterrant at 8:15 PM on February 20, 2005


But, now surfing MetaFilter, sipping on a dram of Laphroaig. Oh, the irony!
posted by ericb at 8:16 PM on February 20, 2005


On preview - nyterrant !!!
posted by ericb at 8:16 PM on February 20, 2005


Glorious sausage rolls! Glorious egg and chips! Glorious apple tart in double cream! Glorious Cadbury chocs! Yes, count me in as one Yank who thinks British food is the dog's bollocks.
posted by scody at 8:25 PM on February 20, 2005


Nice one, ericb. Alas, I haven't got any of the peaty Islay nectar within reach. It's by far the best drink to savor, IMHO.

/salivating
posted by nyterrant at 8:27 PM on February 20, 2005


Tell me something, all. Do they sell a product in England sometimes called 10p beans? At night, when I wake up and my stomach is shaking, I assume it's having nightmares about 10p beans.

bonaldi: One time I was getting some pizza in Scotland and one of your countrymen was talking about his time in America. Apparently, he'd been to New York and tried the pizza. He didn't like it. In fact, according to this guy nobody made pizza as well as the Scottish. Then he ordered a pie with bananas on it. You're right- the Scots are hilarious.
posted by underer at 8:34 PM on February 20, 2005


Those pictures are really abhorrent. But deep down, I'd love meet a girl who could handle this type of eating (i.e., I always end to date vegtarians for no good reason).
posted by bardic at 8:35 PM on February 20, 2005


You've inspired me.

*fetches dram of Lagavulin*
posted by Vidiot at 8:38 PM on February 20, 2005


Laphroaig, Lagavulin ... most all of the single malts are Scotland's gift to the world - other than golf!
posted by ericb at 8:47 PM on February 20, 2005


Mushy peas with mint sauce is a particular speciality at Nottingham's Goose Fair

I realise that what amounts to piping hot lumpy vinegary pea soup in a syrofoam pot doesn't exactly SOUND like culture but it's just the thing to eat on a freezing October night just before taking some stomach churning amusement park ride. At least makes the vomit an interesting texture and colour.
posted by ldma at 8:47 PM on February 20, 2005






"NORTHERN LIGHTS - How modern life emerged from eighteenth-century Edinburgh" [New Yorker | October 11, 2004].
posted by ericb at 8:54 PM on February 20, 2005


The apple pie may be claimed as American, but it was being eaten in England decades before we shipped the first bunch of surplus-to-requirements religious extremists out to your east coast.

Yes, but why did you also send all the dentists, hogshead?
>:^)
posted by squirrel at 8:58 PM on February 20, 2005


A Joke:

In Heaven the British are the policemen, the Germans are the auto mechanics, and the French are the cooks.
In Hell the British are the cooks, the Germans are the policemen, and the French are the auto mechanics.
posted by berek at 11:12 PM on February 20, 2005


I have never understood where this American idea about British food and teeth comes from. It's not based on any sort of reality that I know of.

(And if there's any country in the world with no right to criticise another's food, it's the USA.)
posted by salmacis at 3:31 AM on February 21, 2005


I wonder if how many people have got their knickers in a knot, a la use of the word "niggardly", with regards to faggots - another fine British food?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 3:42 AM on February 21, 2005


Another great Scottish invention.

British food has been so influenced throughout the ages by both its weather and the influx / outflux of invaders that to call any food "British" makes little sense.

Americans should note that a lot of our traditional foods were developed before the time of Walmart, Refrigerators and mass transport, so in a sense we had a lot less to work with.

Although anyone who likes Mushy Peas and Mint Sauce needs to be shot.

10p Beans are probably an allusion to the cut price beans sold by Supermarkets as loss leaders.
posted by seanyboy at 5:31 AM on February 21, 2005


You eat bangers and mash for breakfast? Weird.

British food has been so influenced throughout the ages by both its weather and the influx / outflux of invaders that to call any food "British" makes little sense.

Well, yeah, but you can say that of any country's cuisine - look at, say, Morrocan food, and it's a distinct type of cooking, but one in which you can easily see Mediterranean, African, and Middle Eastern influences. And you can certainly talk sensibly of English (see above), Welsh (Welsh Tea Loaf) and Scottish (haggis) food, and even more so of dishes from specific regions, counties (Yorkshire puddings), towns (Eccles cakes, Bath chap) or even schools (Eton Mess). Then there's the Empire hangover dishes like kedgeree, or the gin and tonic - they're very distinctly British, though invented or adapted in India.

Anyway, folk unconvinced by the sheer beauty of thrifty British cuisine should head to St. John, immediately. Eating the Roast Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad there is the closest I've come to understanding what it might be like to believe in a God.
posted by jack_mo at 6:01 AM on February 21, 2005


I have no use for Mr. Brain's Faggots, thank you very much. Reminded me too much of school hot lunch from the 60's. Even if I do love the name.

However, consider the 'lowly' sandwich. The most wonderful thing in Britain (except carvery) food is the wonderful sandwiches available everywhere. Even the pre packaged sort sold in gas stations are quite palatable.

But seriously, given those damn mushy peas, Britain only deserves its poor reputation in the food department. I am sure that somewhere there is some food that is British that is worthy of praise, but if so, it is kept mostly well hidden, perhaps under a stinking pile of greasy chips doused in too much vinegar.
posted by Goofyy at 7:32 AM on February 21, 2005


Tired old yank cliches.
Why not roll out the teeth one again. Or say France surrenders. Or better still read Fark.

You can eat shit in any country.
Its not as if its great in the states. Too much, too fatty, overdone. Always.
posted by PaddyJames at 7:49 AM on February 21, 2005


Hot buttered Tattie scones . Just ask a Scotsman.
posted by Tarrama at 8:01 AM on February 21, 2005


You eat bangers and mash for breakfast? Weird.

Er, no. Cereal and/or toast.

You eat waffles or pop tarts for breakfast? Weird.
posted by salmacis at 8:10 AM on February 21, 2005


except the apple pie as it is known in the US was probably an English innovation

ISTR that, like a lot of desserts, it originated with the Pennsylvania Dutch.


Originated you say?

The word pie comes from the Gaelic pighe (see Spotlight, Issue 49).  These pies originally contained meat but by the 1500s fruit pies began to appear in England.  And guess what the very first fruit used in pies was... yes, apple!   It would just serve us right if those damned Limeys started saying as English as apple pie.
-- Take Our Word For It


posted by kcds at 8:21 AM on February 21, 2005


(And if there's any country in the world with no right to criticise another's food, it's the USA.)

Its not as if its great in the states. Too much, too fatty, overdone. Always.

Ah, bullshit. You can eat crap in the UK, and you can eat crap in the US. You can eat wonderfully in the UK, and you can eat wonderfully in the US.

Go have some good barbecue from one of the main styles (Texas, Kansas City, Lexington, Eastern North Carolina, South Carolina). Have some real Southern fried chicken, collard greens, lighter-than-air biscuits. Have some Virginia ham, some Maine lobsters, a Connecticut hot dog, beef on weck, Chicago deep dish pizza, Cincinnati chili, a San Diego fish taco, New Mexico green chili, a New York egg cream.

I'll go have haggis, good Cornish pasties, a Devon cream tea, English lamb, roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, et cetera.

Then we'll talk.
posted by Vidiot at 8:36 AM on February 21, 2005


Just kidding about the bangers and mash for breaky. Here are some nice desktops and screensavers made from good quality photos of English Lake District scenery (and more elsewhere on the website) -- screensavers are Mac & Windows (Mac version is an installer app). In an excerpt from True Brits the author states "I liked the clear-eyed view of the US from this side of the Atlantic (like me, many Brits criticize America's faults but admire its virtues), as well as the sense of having the best of both worlds (importing much of the American lifestyle without the full-blown materialism, while also enjoying European perqs without having to suffer French intellectuals). I admired the lush countryside and the beauty of a clear summer's day in Britain (which almost makes up for the other 364 days a year), along with the endless creativity of a people who invented not only the English language but also the toaster..." This from a Common Reader catalogue recently received in the mail; if you're not familiar with the Common Reader, you might want to request their always interesting and literate free catalog.
posted by indices at 10:12 AM on February 21, 2005


Is this even legal in the States?

-- high in iron nonetheless
posted by pwedza at 10:56 AM on February 21, 2005


Nah. Not enough added corn syrup.
posted by salmacis at 12:19 PM on February 21, 2005


For those who wish to customize their own, see All Day Brekkie.
posted by atholbrose at 9:16 PM on February 21, 2005


You eat waffles or pop tarts for breakfast? Weird.

Um, did you actually read the post or my comment?

Whatever, it's a bacon sarnie or kippers for breakfast round my house.
posted by jack_mo at 5:05 AM on February 23, 2005


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