Fair enough really

“I always defend British food and I think it’s not as well known as it should be,” he told the Guardian.

“You’ve got wonderful things, such as pies – chicken and leek pie, for instance, is a marvellous thing – which are lovely because they’re sort of ancient foods; a bit like Henry VIII’s tupperware. And besides, a pie is always something special. Then you have the roasts. You just can’t argue with roast beef.”

But, as with his heretical stance on Marmite, there are some things he fears he will never get his head or mouth around.

“To be honest, I don’t think anyone from the continent ever gets used to rhubarb,” he admits.

61 thoughts on “Fair enough really”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    I’ve just confirmed with Mrs BiND that rhubarb was available when we lived in Germany. Perhaps BiG could comment if that’s still the case?

  2. The problem with a lot of British food is how badly most pubs do it, not the recipes. Few pubs give a crap about the quality. Almost no-one does a good home-baked pie. Almost no-one serves ham, egg and chips with good thick ham. They buy in cheap food and do minimum effort.

    You go to France and pop into a local village restaurant and you’ll get good French food. The crap places are the exception.

  3. I’ve seen rhubarb in Germany, Austria and Czech Rep.
    Mostly it’s a filling for cakes and tarts.

  4. Rhubarb is proof that God loves us. It’s basically free sweeties (if you can get in and exfiltrate the neighbour’s garden without raising the alarm)

    I love rhubarb, custard, and Roobarb & Custard.

  5. “In Spain, he adds, they tend “more towards infanticide when it comes to matters ovine.”

    I’ve eaten lamb in Portugal that was little more than a foetus.

  6. Rhubarb definitely known in Germany, in this season is sometimes served in chunks in asparagus soup.

    There’s even an internet meme for it: Rhabarberbarbara.

  7. Rhubarb KIISSEL, check it out. Yammy with some cream on top.

    It’s the same food everywhere. Take Lancashire hotpot for instance. Layers of fried minute steaks, onion, potatoes, spices, herbs, top with beer and stock = MERIMIESPIHVI

    Or my favourite on rye bread. Head cheese = ALADOOBI

  8. Rhubarb crumble & custard. Yes please. If hot Birds custard in a jug, please can I have the skin?

  9. TMB: That sounds like childhood conditioning. For me – rhubarb? no thanks! I’m OK with apple crumble but although rhubarb is sweet, I don’t like the associated flavour. Same with beetroot. Also, I’m quite happy to avoid the oxalic acid.

  10. We pulled our first rhubarb of the season this week. Cooked it with the juice of a couple of oranges and served it with custard. Ambrosia! In both senses.

    A historian I knew used to claim that one of the 19th century wars against pesky intruders launched by a Chinese Emperor was based on the proposition that if the Chinese supply of rhubarb to Europe were cut off, widespread constipation would force the European powers to submit. It didn’t work. The Chinee hadn’t known that the subtle Europeans already grew lots of the stuff.

    I admit that until middle age I hadn’t heard of the rhubarb triangle. WhenIwasbutalad the stuff grew like an untameable weed all over our garden – it wouldn’t have occurred to me that it could be a commercial crop.

  11. @dearieme You’re a bit ahead of us in the northern wastes of England. Our Rhubarb is just six inches high. Give it another week or two and it’ll be ready to pick.

  12. Take Lancashire hotpot for instance. Layers of fried minute steaks, onion, potatoes, spices, herbs, top with beer and stock

    Fried minute steaks? That is not Lancashire hot pot.

    Bird’s custard is pretty dreadful. My Great Aunt Rachel’s custard OTOH is a thing of rare and sublime beauty.

  13. TG – yup, true! It’s ages since I had Birds custard (with skin), hot, in a jug. School probably.

  14. Ah, school custard. One time they had made far too much and were offering ‘second’ helpings as often as we were prepared to go back for another bowl full. A bunch of us carried on eating custard until we couldn’t move. They didn’t have any recommended daily intake quotas in those days, I’m surprised that I’m still alive.

  15. School custard was horrible. It was the boiled milk taste, though it’s possible they made it with sterilised milk. This was 50s & 60s – you never see SM these days, replaced by UHT, which is marginally more palatable. I guess I must be a fussy eater after all.

  16. Take Lancashire hotpot for instance. Layers of fried minute steaks, onion, potatoes, spices, herbs, top with beer and stock

    In ‘Merica that is commonly known as compost.

  17. Lancashire hotpot…as Marco Pierre White says…perfection is just many little things done well. So you fry and season the meat beforehand, same with onions and potatoes, for flavour and texture.

    Instead of just putting everything raw in the pot and cooking the hell out of it.

    It’s the same dish, innit? Just cooked properly.

  18. Steve said:
    “I love rhubarb, custard, and Roobarb & Custard”

    Ha; I was humming the theme tune as I read Tim’s post!

  19. Lancashire hot pot is made with lamb or mutton. Wouldn’t surprise me if Yorkshireman MPW fucked it up.

    So you fry and season the meat beforehand, same with onions and potatoes, for flavour and texture.

    Instead of just putting everything raw in the pot and cooking the hell out of it.

    You make it sound as if no-one understood the benefit of browning meat before Marco imparted his wisdom. Who the hell just throws raw stuff in a pot?

  20. “Who throws it raw into the pot?”

    Totally different dishes, browned/non-browned, not least in terms of taste. Half of cooks do, half don’t. If it’s a stove-top dish you’re likely to brown the meat; if it’s destined for the oven you just dust the meat in flour, layer it up and cover with stock.

  21. Bernie G, IIRC, In Provence the meat stew is Daube and traditionally that is not browned, compared to Beef Bourguignon where the meat is browned first. But nowadays poncy “chefs” all brown the meat first for “caramelisation” (Maillard reaction), more honest cooks do it in order to get some heat into the meat, just to get it going.

  22. I was relating my custard story from the 1970s. Our school’s custard was fine, although it could be because we just weren’t that fussy in those days.

  23. The Meissen Bison

    Stonyground – I think it was also that the main course was often vile: pigs liver in gravy, scrag end of neck with pearl barley, stuffed ox hearts whereas the puds were palatable, filling and cheap to produce.

  24. In Provence the meat stew is Daube and traditionally that is not browned, compared to Beef Bourguignon where the meat is browned first.

    That makes about as much sense as your beefy Lancashire hotpot.

    where do I get all this stuff?

    That one stumps me.

  25. Pigs liver in gravy, scrag end of neck with pearl barley, stuffed ox hearts…

    Stop! You’re making my mouth water.

  26. TMB, stuffed ox heart is a fabulous dish, if you do it right, and I do. On the lamb front, among the finest things I’ve eaten were the intestines of unweaned lambs: part of an offal mixed grill in Rome, at the restaurant built into the base of that hill made out of discarded ancient Roman potsherds.

  27. Roast Narwhale foreskin wrapped around the raw heart of an albino armadillo is one of the specialities of my local pub. That and pickled onions.

  28. Here’s one to separate the real from the fake Lancastrians:

    What’s the first food item that comes to mind when you hear the word “scallop”?

  29. Chris, your second sentence is worthy of Elizabeth David.

    Andrew C, my local boozer serves fondant Marmite. They say it travels well with the the bottled cherry and chocolate Belgian beer.

  30. I lived in France with my family in the noughties for a couple of years. We regularly bought fruit tarts from the deli in the next village (suburb West of Paris), and the best of the lot were rhubarb with a custard-like base. The patissier was proud of his source for ‘champagne’ rhubarb which was, he told me, near Batley.

    Our own village had a weekly market on Saturday, where the patisserie included ‘crumbell’. The choice was a difficult one, between fruits rouges or apple.

  31. “What’s the first food item that comes to mind when you hear the word “scallop””

    I’m a soft southerner, and even I know that scallops are a sort of fried potato cake found in chip shops.

  32. @TG

    Sterilised milk for sale in Morrisons and Tesco beside UHT milk

    @TMB

    Rhubarb crumble & custard. Yes please

    …and so easy to make & bake too
    – Crumble: (Small) 4oz Flour, 2oz butter/marge, 1oz sugar. Mix and pour over rhubarb/apple sprinkled with sugar; lightly firm down leaving rough surface. Bake

    @RichardT

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6rCnpFJCI8

    If only plod today would track down crims

  33. BiG: yum! The chippy down the road from our grammar school used to sell them. Made up for the rubbish custard at school.

  34. I’ve never understood the appeal of powdered custard. It’s the easiest thing to make from its raw ingredients.

  35. Note sure I’ve ever really understood custard itself. It’s just a very wet omelette isn’t it? With sugar sprinkles?

  36. Slightly off topic but with the hope of starting a foodie world war:
    Christmas pudding with custard or cream?

  37. BB

    Custard? You heathen… Brandy butter or brandy cream. Brandy butter myself, straight on whilst piping hot and partly melts over it. If gluttonous, both.

  38. Pro-Lancasheer: we once ate, in the space of a fortnight, Tripe à la Mode de Caen, and tripe in the Lancs style. It was a rare victory for English cuisine in a head-to-head comparison. As in miles better, a smashing triumph.

    In saying “cuisine” I exclude bakery and so forth: in my experience yer cakes are better in Scotland and t’North of England than in France. And, it ought to go without saying, yer Aberdeen Buttery is a breakfast comestible that is infinitely superior to yer croissant. Ho yuss.

  39. “Lancashire also has the best blood pudding in the world.” Now you’re just trying to pick a fight.

  40. Modern manufactured custard is fine by me, either cold or hot. I’ll even have it on Christmas Pud, as I did the other day using up a little one from Christmas. My mum used to make a white sauce with rum, which was OK. I scandalised my parents & boggled my new wife by having a choc ice as well as brandy butter & Mum’s sauce with my pud on Christmas Day long ago…

    Of course by far the best custard is crème patissière, and proper French mille feuille. There’s a sort of analogue in custard slices over here but the French ones are much better.

    PS scallops in the north are just a potato slice cooked in batter. The potato isn’t otherwise processed except for peeling & slicing.

  41. Mr. Womby & PF
    Brandy butter. I have passed your comments to the kitchen staff with the threat of a good thrashing if it doesn’t appear on the table next Christmas.

    And sorry all you heathens.
    Black pudding just doesn’t cut it. Morcilla de arroz from Burgos is just stunning, with roasted and peeled red pepper slices. Fried to crispy on the outside…
    https://tinyurl.com/rsxda2e

  42. @bilbaoboy…

    I have three of those in the fridge. But that’s not to take away the sophistication and subtlety of our native products. I’ve a natural fondness for the Black Country version, obviously, and Mrs G’s Scottish take is always a treat. A matter of taste perhaps, but then there’s so many brilliant examples.

  43. Of course Lancashire black pud beats all competitors. As long as you buy it in Bolton though, not Bury.

    “Note sure I’ve ever really understood custard itself. It’s just a very wet omelette isn’t it? With sugar sprinkles?”

    Lemmesee,
    Milk
    egg yolk
    sugar
    starch
    vanilla

    So there is only one thing in there that you have to put in an omelette, and it’s missing one thing you have to put in an omelette (egg white). It would probably be more accurate to call it an antimeringue.

  44. @Tim Worstall

    Custard is hot milk with a thickening agent – hot milk would turn pudding into slurry

    @bilbaoboy

    White sauce – hot milk, sugar and corn flour

  45. As long as you buy it in Bolton though, not Bury.

    That’s not how you spell Blackburn. But actually, anywhere inside the mystic triangle of Blackburn, Bury and Wigan should be fine. I like Morcilla and Boudin Noir, but the international competitions are generally won by the Lancastrian product. Blutwurst is very poor for a country that prides itself on its sausages.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *