Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day 31: Good English Food

English food has a bad reputation, and in many respects, I hate to say, it is warranted. However, I have been paying attention to what I eat--as my husband would say, eating "mindfully"--and have discovered a few English food gems.

The soups are fantastic. Literally. Every soup I have tried is delicious. They have unique combinations--last night it was carrot and pea puree soup--that somehow simmer well together. And soups are often always blended. Yummy.

Dairy. My friends from Switzerland say it doesn't hold a candle to their stuff. But compared to American dairy, this stuff is great, without exception. This includes yoghurt, cheese, cream, clotted cream, and fresh butter. I have taken to their hard cheeses, including the salty mozzarella, which I've been having every morning with my toast, jersey cream butter, crab apple jam, figs, and herbal teas. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Back to dairy. Something I particularly love is their habit of pouring cream over desserts, especially fresh jersey cream and strawberries.

Soda bread. Irish soda bread is very low on the glycemic index, and, as the name implies, does not have yeast in it. It is made from whole grain, is quite hardy, and absolutely delicious. And cheap.

Clotted cream and scones. An English classic if ever there was one.

Teas. Of course. As a Mormon who follows a strict dietary code, I don't partake of regular tea (white, green, or black teas) and so have nothing to say about them; however, I really enjoy the wide variety of herbal teas, especially the mint, licorice, and rose tea by Whittiard, of which I consume 2-3 cups every day.

Hot chocolate. Especially if made from syrup rather than powder. This stuff is dark and bitter, creamy, and terrible for you and especially for me (I get headaches and feel bad the rest of the day), but oh-so-good on the lips. This is true especially for hot chocolate from Cafe Nero, Starbuck's Italian chain rival that are a dime a dozen but consistently good.

Curries. Again, consistently good. Something about the spices always covers up whatever else the cook did wrong. Perhaps it was the fact that India was a colony for so long.

Produce. It's been said that everything in Europe is smaller. That's certainly true of the produce here. Especially the fruit. Apples, bananas, strawberries, oranges--everything is smaller. I suppose that's what happens when hormones are not used and very little is imported in the way of produce. But I love, love the strawberries (mentioned above) and the russet apples. Figs, too, can be purchased in abundance and are fresh and good.

Roasted tomatoes. I am a big fan of tomatoes anyway, so the English habit of serving roasted tomatoes with breakfast and many dinner entrees is welcome. Often, they have some kind of cheesy substance on top.

Granola bars. These organic bars can come in apricot, almond, yoghurt varieties and are very good. But a little pricey.

I'm sure I have not catalogued all good English food (I've heard of but have not experienced good English entrees), but will continue to keep eyes, ears, and tastebuds pealed.

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