Saturday, February 28, 2009

To Eat and Sigh in England

For some time now I have been meaning to write about British food and the miracle that has occurred.

When we first came to England in 1971 we quickly learned to eat Chinese takeaway, Indian, anything other than English. Yeah, you could get the occasional decent steak and chips and garden peas in a pub, or decent food in Scotland, but England?? The food doesn't bear description. And it was not much better in 1980.

When Sharon came here briefly on business about five years ago, she said that there had been a food revolution in England but they were not quite all the way there yet. Now they are.

Whilst eating out, we’ve had one mediocre meal in the last five weeks, one meal that was spectacular and a lot of excellent to very good meals.

Moreover, as we have shopped we have noticed a much greater awareness and appreciation of food, not just Italian, which has become the global lingua franca, but good English food. The grocery giant Sainsbury’s has come to garner our respect. They sell both good wholesome food, much of it regionally produced, and feature organics and as wide a variety of foods as we could expect in California. Largely because of the EU we can get Italian pasta and oils, Spanish chorizo and a host of other delicacies. But moreso, good English food.

On Thursday, Rickie Bolin, one of my students told me that there is a farmers market every Saturday in the forecourt of Sainsbury’s. She had been a couple of time, had eaten and shopped. So this morning we decided to walk over and do the same.

Well, the foods! We had a quick breakfast of lardy cakes for me (they are similar to Irish cakes or Cornish heavy cakes) and a chocolate and orange cake for Sharon and a bottle of the best fresh apple cider we’ve ever had.

Then back to the market to shop, and boy did we shop. Only the fact that we were going to have to carry everything back a half mile to our flat stopped us from going truly wild. So join us in our adventure through the Green Park Farmers Market.

But, first this is for the world, I guess, but especially the folks back home. Sharon will be sending a copy to her colleagues at Stanford.
A shell of a building, just up the river from us. It may very well come to pass that the facade of the building will be modernised and rebuilt.
With winter lifting these barges on the river are becoming commonplace enough that I did not even jump up to photograph the most recent one to come past our window.
Sharon pondering our choice at the fishmonger's, we came away with crab cakes, smoked salmon and fresh wolffish.
The multitude of olives got me, so we got a medley of olives and some sun-dried tomatoes
The dark sour rye, a malt bread and a French baguette came away with us from the bakers
We ate in Green Park our table decorated with primroses
Mushrooms, some of which we had never seen before.

Cheeses, of course. Most of this stuff is produced within a very few miles.
And for another of the senses. They played swing jazz of the French persuasion.
Not just food, but flowers. To the left in the picture is the door to my classroom. Our local contact was unable, for the first time, to secure us space at University of Bath or Bath Spa. Instead we have a room in Vision Bath, a charity helping the partially sighted.
Our bounty at home, including sausages, paté, fish, cheeses, breads, cakes, cider, mushrooms, olives. All for less than £60. We'll eat well for more than a week.
Before we left, I said that I expected to lose weight since English food is both bad and expensive. I was less than half right. Eating out is pricey, groceries are not so much so, and the food is just fine. So, am I losing any weight here? Actually, yes. We are eating more moderately here, smaller portions, but I am also walking from around five to ten miles a week most weeks and I am working out occasionally.

Life is good.

No comments: