Special Sub-Topic: A "Full English"
|Let's begin our culinary tour of Britain with a full English breakfast, a huge meal which will really set you up for the day. We'll start with a helping of porridge. In which country of the UK did this dish originate?|
Scotland. Porridge is oatmeal boiled in water with a little salt. Traditionally, it should be served in a bowl, with cold milk in another bowl, and then each spoonful should be dipped in the cold milk bowl. That's not the way it's eaten nowadays thankfully - it would make for an awful lot of washing up! And a true Scotsman would never EVER add sugar!
|The next course in our breakfast consists of bacon, eggs, toast and a long sausage coiled up like a rope, made from pork and flavoured with nutmeg and mace. Which northern county would we have to visit to find the origins of this sausage?|
Cumberland. It is recommended that the Cumberland sausage is cooked whole in its coil, and not separated into individual segments until it is ready to be served.
|Breakfast is over, but travel sharpens the appetite, and by eleven, we're ready for what Winnie the Pooh calls "a little something". We decide to have a cake with our coffee, a puff pastry case packed with raisins. This delicacy shares its name with which character from the "Goons". Which of these is it?|
Eccles. James Birch, of Eccles in Greater Manchester, is credited with being the first to sell these delicious little puff pastry cakes filled with raisins, hence the name "Eccles cakes". And if you think Bluebottle is an unlikely name for something you eat, please remember that the alternative name in Britain for a Garibaldi biscuit is a "squashed fly" biscuit. Now does that sound any more appetising?
|Lunch beckons next, and we move away from the north of England where the meal at midday is still usually called dinner. A Ploughman's Lunch at a country pub sounds ideal. This usually consists of cheese, pickle and crusty bread. If you would like a creamy blue veined English cheese, what should you ask for?|
Stilton. Stilton, one of the most famous cheeses in Britain is often eaten after a meal, accompanied by a fine port. However its distinctive taste is becoming ever more popular, and many pubs are now providing their clientele with a more sophisticated cheese than the usual Cheddar in a Ploughman's Lunch.
|Beer is the drink of preference to accompany the traditional ploughman's lunch. In which city would you be most likely to drink Brains beer?|
Cardiff. Brains have been brewing beer in Cardiff since 1882. Manchester had Boddingtons, among others, until recently, but manufacture of this is controversially being transferred elsewhere. Newcastle is the home of the famous "Newcastle Brown" or "a journey into space" as the locals like to call it. London has many breweries, but it cannot lay claim to have Brains.
|No taste trip around the UK would be complete without the compulsory afternoon tea. The Earl Grey variety is becoming increasingly popular, named after Charles Grey, the second Earl Grey, and a former Prime Minister of Great Britain. But in which English city would you find a monument to the man who gave his name to this delicious blend?|
Newcastle. Grey's monument is a well known landmark in the centre of Newcastle. The tea which bears his name is flavoured with bergamot oil, and was presented to him as a gift. It is becoming increasingly popular, and some of its more illustrious aficionados include the late Douglas Adams, Jean-Luc Picard (yes, I know he's not real!), James Bond (likewise), oh - and me!
|At last it's time for dinner and our culinary tour takes us to Cornwall where we are served a dish called "Stargazy Pie". What is the main ingredient of this visually fascinating dish?|
Fish. Stargazy Pie gets its name from the fish heads which protrude from the pastry covering, and which gaze plaintively at the sky. It doesn't sound very appetising but is a traditional and tasty dish. The fish, usually pilchards, but sometimes herring, are arranged so that the heads are supported by the edge of the piedish, and slits made in the pastry covering. This is so that the rich oil from the fish will drain back into the pie for extra flavour. You do not eat the fisheads. I expect you're relieved to hear that!
|You wish to finish with a traditional English dessert, a steamed suet pudding with dried fruit usually served with delicious custard. What was this concoction originally named?|
Spotted Dick. Not the most appetising name for what was a very popular pudding in days gone by. Spotted Dog is actually a variation on the theme with the suet paste being rolled into a cylinder with the dried fruit (usually raisins) on the outside, but the other two do not exist.
|After a substantial evening meal the next stop on our taste tour is a visit to the "Red Lion", which boasts the most common pub name in Britain. Here we have on offer an array of the finest traditional ales brewed in the U.K. But which of these would you NOT be able to sample?|
Piddleton Special. Traditional Ales tend to have names which don't have immediate appeal. The three named here are some of the more acceptable names. Many others simply wouldn't have been suitable for a family site ... Piddleton Special is a made up name - but you have no idea how difficult it was to find an unusual name that doesn't already exist!
|At last the day is drawing to a close. You stagger from a rousing evening in a local hostelry, buoyed up by several pints of traditional British ale, and make for the Koh-i-Noor Restaurant opposite for your final British culinary experience. Yes, I did say British! Which of these curried dishes would you choose from the menu?|
Chicken Balti. Balti dishes, which are now a regular feature on menus in Indian resaturants, were actually created in Birmingham by the Pakistani and Kashmiri residents of what is now known as the "Balti Mile" or "Balti Belt". Balti is the word for a bucket, and the curry is served, sizzling hot in the metal flat bottomed dish in which it is cooked. Naan bread is the usual accompaniment for this meal.
I hope you've enjoyed your quick trip around some of the culinary experiences you could expect on a trip to Britain! Indigestion tablets, anyone?
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