When I sat down to write my May blog, I decided to google what special days were coming up this month. I was very tempted by May 18th, International Museum Day – after all, Paris is perhaps museum capital of the world ! – but then I saw that May 6 was International No Diet Day and I realised this was the perfect chance to talk about one of my favourite topics in the world : food !
Just as for museums, Paris is probably the gastronomic world capital too, and don’t get me wrong, I adore French cuisine (especially the cheese) but today I’m going to propose that you ignore your diet and try some of the amazing specialities the UK has to offer instead.
I know what you’re thinking – British food?! Bland and boring! That is certainly the French stereotype of British food, but I promise you that it could not be further from not the truth. Read on to follow me on a food tour around Great Britain…
The most famous Scottish food is of course the haggis. It’s incredibly traditional, but has become increasingly popular in recent years again because of its sustainability - it uses every part of the animal. It tastes earthy, spicy and delicious, especial when served with “neeps and tatties”.
However, my favourite savoury Scottish dish is actually something called Cullen Skink. This is a stew made from smoked haddock and potatoes. Scotland has thousands of miles of coastline, so you’ll get great fish and seafood anywhere you go in the country, but for me the warmth of a bowl of creamy Cullen Skink, served with a crusty bread roll fresh from the oven, just can’t be beaten!
If you have more of a sweet tooth, I’m sure already know how fabulous Scottish shortbread is, but you might not know about the beautiful traditional dessert that is Cranachan. This originated as a celebration of the raspberry harvest and is a yummy combination of fresh berries, cream, oats, and that other famous Scottish product: whisky. It’s surprisingly easy to make, so why not give it a go?
And if your tastes run a little more ‘downmarket’, you can always pick up a fried Mars Bar at the local chip shop, and wash it down with Irn Bru, Scotland’s answer to Pepsi or Fanta!
Check out these and other dishes by watching this YouTube video.
Everyone knows about fish and chips, but there are lots of other great English foods too. However, one problem with British food is that you really can’t always guess what it is just from the name: Toad in the Hole contains no toads, but is in fact sausages in batter.
Spotted Dick is not a man called Richard with an acne problem, but rather a sponge pudding.
And Yorkshire pudding is not a dessert, it’s a savoury side dish made from a batter of eggs, flour, and milk or water, and an integral part of a Sunday roast lunch. It is from Yorkshire though, at least.
Actually, that is another thing we do a lot in England: name food after where it comes from. Two of my favourite sweet treats follow this pattern, and are both from places near where I am from in the north of English.
First of all, there is the Bakewell Pudding. This originated in the picturesque rural town of Bakewell, in Derbyshire.
When I was a child, my family used to go on Sunday ‘drives out’ in the car and I loved going to Bakewell to feed the ducks in the river and then to pick up a Bakewell pudding from one of the many bakeries and sit and eat it on a park bench in the sunshine.
Bakewell pudding is a flaky pastry base with a layer of jam, and is topped with a filling made of egg and almond paste. It dates back to at least the 1800s and there are various legends about how it was invented, but no one really knows the truth. The mystery perhaps means it tastes even better, somehow!
The other local dessert I adore is something called an Eccles Cake. It’s not exactly what we normally think of as a cake – it’s almost more of a sweet pie. It’s make of flaky pastry topped with demerara sugar and filled to bursting with currants! It is named after the town of Eccles, in Lancashire, and is even more historic/traditional than the Bakewell Pudding, dating back to at least the 1700s. I recommend trying one with a thick slice of tangy Lancashire cheese!