An English Culinary Adventure

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England is famous worldwide for its writers, the punctuality of its railways, the quality of its tweed and its horrible food. Jokes about it abound; I, for one, will be mightily disappointed if when I get to hell, the cook is not an Englishman. And yet, I can't say I felt any apprehension when the time came to plan my English menu. No cuisine can really be that bad, can it?

It turned out that it wasn't. Traditional English food, the peasant fare served at pubs throughout the country, is exactly what you would expect: hearty, comforting and tasty. It may not have the sophistication of French food, but as the English country folk had better access to good quality meats, it didn't need to be. English cuisine, however, lost its way around the time of the industrial revolution. Millions of people moved to London at a time in which the city's food supplies came by horse-drawn boats and there was no refrigeration. Basically, this mean that poor and middle class Londoners had to rely on canned and preserved food and roots. By the time technology improved so as to make better quality ingredients available, the English - or so the story goes - had lost their appreciation of good food.

For my short excursion into English cuisine I decided to make a couple of "pies" (the chicken one is outstanding) as well as a traditional roast beef with roasted potatoes and Yorkshire puddings. I'm not including the "recipe" for the roast and potatoes because, frankly, I don't remember which one I used. But as I didn't do anything fancy to it - I just put them in the oven at some temperature -, I'm sure that whatever instructions you use will serve. How good the roast is will depend entirely on the quality of the meat you use.