Saturday, 19 November 2011

Food - at last!

Well, I have been reading blog after blog full of memories of Thanksgiving Days past and they seem to concentrate on the food. There are usually mentions of getting together with family members, but food seems to be the main priority.

(Before you all start bombarding me with comments I'll confess to having written that bit with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek.)

I might have said that pumpkin pie is unobtainable in England were it not for the fact that when I was shopping yesterday (the Old Bat's back was playing up so I had to toddle off to Tesco) I spotted this delicacy in the delicatessan. Not that I consider pumpkin pie a delicacy: I don't like it. Does that count as sacrilege to my American friends and acquaintances?

And there have been various references to what sounds to me like a most peculiar concoction. A jelly with nuts and vegetables in it? Now I know that jelly is another of those words that means something different each side of the Atlantic. Come to that, it means two different things in England - if not three! As foodstuff goes, the first thing most English people think of is a fruit-flavoured dessert made by melting a cube of rubbery-stuff in boiling water, pouring the resulting mixture into a mould and cooling it before turning out onto a plate. Perhaps the simplest way of describing this is to post a picture.

Then there is a type of jam - bramble jelly, for example. This is basically a jam that has been strained to make a preserve very similar in appearance to the fruit jelly above. But you knew all that, didn't you?

Jelly and blancmange were always the centre pieces of birthday party teas when I was a child. My grandchildrens' birthday party teas seem much more likely to feature sausages, crisps and other savouries than the sweet things of my youth.

What I had really intended monologuing about was winter warmers. And I don't mean long johns or woollen underwear. With the colder days now only just around the corner (they should be here already but it still seems unusually mild) we will be looking for those heavier, more solid meals. Out with the rabbit food and salads, in with the steak and kidney puddings, beef wellington and hearty stews.

Puddings. There is such a variety. My mother used to make a ginger pudding that the Old Bat, superb cook though she is, has never managed to copy. It was a suet pudding of some sort, I think, and was (of course) served with custard. Jam rolypoly (again, with custard) is another great British traditional pudding, and spotted dick. Our friend Wendy lives in France and for some time she had a stall at various markets where she sold chocolate puddings she had made (along with jars of marmalade) and the French eventually came to appreciate at least one British culinary favourite. They have recently started serving apple crumble but theirs is cooked in a pastry case as a tart and is served with ice cream instead of custard.

Of course, the French don't do custard. They think they do - they call it crème anglaise - but it's thin and watery and served cold.

Anyway, back to Thanksgiving. We don't have it over here in England, as you know, but it won't be long till Christmas (he he he! That should wind Suldog up!) when we can enjoy roast turkey with roast potatos, Brussel sprouts, pigs in blankets, etc etc followed by Christmas pudding, mince pies and brandy butter. Then there's Christmas cake to come...


John May said...

Not a mention of black pudding

Uncle Skip, said...

Suldog won't get past the spotted dick.

The Broad said...

There are certain things I've had to learn I'll never take to in the UK and one of those is warm custard. In the States we refer to the French tart a la apple crumble, as French apple pie, which is also known as apple crumb pie. It was a staple on my mother's Thanksgiving menu.

Buck said...

Not that I consider pumpkin pie a delicacy: I don't like it. Does that count as sacrilege to my American friends and acquaintances?

Yup. Most definitely. ;-)

Ah, winter food in Britain. During my three years at RAF Uxbridge I took it as a personal mission to find the best pub-grub in our area and was reasonably successful in that endeavor. Good times.

#1Nana said...

My favorite thing to eat the last time I was in England was sausage rolls from Tesco...I couldn't get enough.
Buck's wrong. I don't like pumpkin pie either. But since I'm a naturalized American maybe my vote doesn't count.

Brighton Pensioner said...

John, I don't think I have ever eaten black pudding. I just don't like the idea of it, even tho' I like haggis!

Apple crumble, of course, tastes a whole lot better if a few balckberries are thrown into the mix.

And Buck, pub food has improved beyond all recognition over the last few years.