It’s a cheap shot to say that British food is bad, but I’ll take that shot! I have to admit to loving British beer, and have even been know to crave food from a British pub/restaurant in Concord, CA called Mr. Pickwick’s. But in reality, Mr. Pickwick’s is not really British food since, well, their cooks have either come from outside of Britain, or if they have cooks who are from Britain, they’ve been in California long enough to absorb good cooking techniques.
Why all this fuss over British food? Well, Salon ran a story on a Nigel Slater (a British food critic) who is trying to rescue the notoriously bad food from the joke that it often is, and show the world that it’s actually tasty. Perhaps it is nowadays, but I gotta tell you that the last time I was in England (1993), J and I had some, shall we say, interesting dining experiences.
I had been telling J how bad the food was when we arrived in London for our Honeymoon (save perhaps for the Indian food). She was convinced that I was being too harsh, and was reserving judgment.
One night, before we went to see a play, we were given a couple of gift certificates from my cousin Krishna to dine at some chain that served “proper English meals.” That should have been the big red flag right there. But we were famished, so we jumped into a taxi and went to the restaurant.
After being seated, looking at the menu, and getting our food, the entertainment began for me. J took a couple of bites and proceeded to tell me that what she was eating had absolutely no taste. It was just a kind of rubbery texture that looked like fish, soft pellets that looked like peas, and warm grains that resembled rice. It looked like food, but really it was just…well, to call it bland would be compliment. She couldn’t eat anymore, but I was so bloody hungry that I just wolfed it down (it seems I’m a pig who will inhale whatever is at the trough when the going gets tough).
When the waitress came to our table to see how we were enjoying the food, it was one of those priceless moments where I wish I had a small video camera to record the exchange. I’ll do my best to recreate the scene, but this is a pale facsimile of what transpired:
Waitress: How’s the food?
Waitress: (Smiling) You don’t like it, do you?
J: No…I’m just not that hungry.
Waitress: Nah. You don’t like it.
J: No really… I’m just not that hungry.
Waitress: Would you like me to box it up so you can take it home and eat it when you are hungry?
J: Oh, no thank you.
Waitress: That’s because you don’t like it.
J: No, it’s just that we’re going to the theatre after this, and I wouldn’t have any place to put it.
Waitress: Oh…I see. You’re going to the theatre… (Said with a knowing smile)
[The waitress leaves]
Me: Boy she read you like a book.
J: I feel bad.
Me: I don’t think you should. This food is the English crap I was telling you about.
J: I’ll never doubt you again.
Me: Maybe next time we’ll get Indian food.
J: Sounds good to me.
Despite all that, I still love English beer and Mr. Pickwick’s! 🙂
Cheers mate! And Happy Halloween!Â If you haven’t already done so, have a listen to my Halloween Mix Six HERE.