“The unheralded elements of English food” by Clarissa Dickson Wright, Washington Post, dated . . . I’m not sure what the date on the article is. The earliest comment is dated February 21, 2012, so I’m guessing it was published around that time.
Ms. Wright published the book A History of English Food in 2011, and in both the book & the Washington Post article she states the English cooking was not always overly cooked starches and vegetables with few spices served with overcooked meat. It only became that way during the Victorian era, partly as a result of people moving to the cities for industrial jobs and not having as much access to fresh food, and partly as a result of bland overcooked food becoming the “in” thing and everyone wanting to show how up-to-the-minute they were.
Both prior to and after the Victorian era, English food was quite varied and quite flavorful.
It’s quite a good article and worth reading in its entirety, with lots of notes about how the English food was influenced by other cultures and continents, and how English and American cuisine influenced each other. For instance, turkeys are called that because when they were first introduced to England, probably via Spain, it was assumed they came from the Middle East (Turkey). And fish and chips, while now considered almost the most English dish that there is, originated with Jewish immigrants (the fried fish part) and South America (the chips part, and while potatoes made it to Europe by the 16th century, they wouldn’t reach England until the 18th century).
if you look at the best of English food both before and after Victorian times you will find plenty worth trying. Take, for example, a delicious recipe for salmon created by the 17th-century cook Robert May: It involves covering the fish with sliced oranges seasoned with nutmeg and salt and cooking it in a sauce made from an orange and some red wine.
. . . . My God, that sounds good. I might get her book just for that recipe alone.
And here’s a link to the Spiced Wine Custard recipe. If I ever get around to trying it, I’ll put up a post sometime to say how it turned out. 🙂
Link found via the post “Beyond Spotted Dick”, dated March 5 2012, on the blog Victorina Matus : Eat, Drink, Bloviate., which in turn was quoted and linked on one of the overnight thread posts on Ace of Spades.