British Cuisine - a culinary reputation

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UK have a wide and varied cuisine today! After years of disparagement by various countries (especially the French), Britain, now, has an enviable culinary reputation. In fact some of the great chefs now come from Britain!

However Britain's culinary expertise is not new! In the past, British cooking was amongst the best in the world. Mrs Beeton is still one of the renowned writers of cookery books, her creations have now gained international popularity, years after her death.

Traditional British cuisine is substantial, yet simple and wholesome. She has been influenced by the traditions and tastes from different parts of the British empire: teas from Ceylon and chutney, kedgeree and mulligatawny soup from India.

British cuisine has always been multicultural, a pot pourri of eclectic styles. In ancient times influenced by the Romans and in medieval times the French. When the Frankish Normans invaded, they brought with them the spices of the east: cinnamon, saffron, mace, nutmeg, pepper, ginger. Sugar came to England at that time and was considered a spice rare and expensive. Before the arrival of cane sugars, honey and fruit juices were the only sweeteners. The few Medieval cookery books that remain record dishes that use every spice in the larder, and chefs across Europe saw their task to be the almost alchemical transformation of raw ingredients into something entirely new (for centuries the English aristocracy ate French food) which they felt distinguished them from the peasants.

Among English cakes and pastries, many are tied to the various religious holidays of the year. Hot Cross Buns are eaten on Good Friday, Simnel Cake is for Mothering Sunday, Plum Pudding for Christmas, and Twelfth Night Cake for Epiphany.

The British tradition of stews, pies and breads, according to the taste buds of the rest of the world, went into terminal decline. What was best in England was only that which showed the influence of France, and so English food let itself become a gastronomic joke and the French art of Nouvell Cuisine was adopted.

In the late 1980's, British cuisine started to look for a new direction. Disenchanted with the overblown (and under-nourished) Nouvelle Cuisine, chefs began to look a little closer to home for inspiration. Calling on a rich (and largely ignored) tradition, and utilising many diverse and interesting ingredients, the basis was formed for what is now known as modern British food. Game has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity although it always had a central role in the British diet, which reflects both the abundant richness of the forests and streams and an old aristocratic prejudice against butchered meats.

In London especially, one can not only experiment with the best of British, but the best of the world as there are many distinct ethnic cuisines to sample, Chinese, Indian, Italian and Greek restaurants are amongst the most popular.

Although some traditional dishes such as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, Cornish pasties, steak and kidney pie, bread and butter pudding, treacle tart, spotted dick or fish and chips, remain popular, there has been a significant shift in eating habits in Britain. Rice and pasta have accounted for the decrease in potato consumption and the consumption of meat has also fallen. Vegetable and salad oils have largely replaced the use of butter.British cuisine

Roast beef is still the national culinary pride. It is called a "joint," and is served at midday on Sunday with roasted potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, two vegetables, a good strong horseradish, gravy, and mustard.

In fact, fish is still important to the English diet. Many species swim in the cold offshore waters: sole, haddock, hake, plaice, cod (the most popular choice for fish and chips), turbot, halibut, mullet and John Dory. Oily fishes also abound (mackerel, pilchards, and herring) as do crustaceans like lobster and oysters. Eel, also common, is cooked into a wonderful pie with lemon, parsley, and shallots, all topped with puff pastry.

 Pies and puddings are related phenomena in British culinary history. Originally, both solved the problem of preparing dinners made with less expensive meats. Pies covered a stew or other ingredients with a crust; puddings were made from butcher's scraps tucked into a sheep's stomach, then steamed or boiled. Pies have remained pies, although, in addition to savory pies, there now exist sweet variations, which tend to have two crusts or a bottom crust only.

The food industry in Britain is now undergoing major changes. From a resurgence of interest in organic food to the other extreme - genetically modified (GM) food. GM food has so incensed the general public that there have been mass demonstrations against it all over the country.

Publicat in: octombrie 2012
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