The Return Of British Food
It’s off-putting eating a strawberry when you know it’s been flown all the way from Israel to be on your plate. Yesterday I made a tour of my local farmers’ markets to see what was on offer, and was told that a lot of very British food was returning, from samphire, salsify and sorrel to cow heel, parkin and the massive resurgence of pork cuts.
The most popular stall in Borough Market, though, is still Swiss – Raclette, melted crust of cheese over Maris Piper potatoes. Close behind are the oyster & beef pies, Saltmarsh lamb (which tastes different to ordinary lamb) and odder dishes like Stargazey Pie, a Cornish dish of baked pilchards and eggs.
I find cooking therapeutic; there’s nothing like standing in the kitchen plotting a murder while you’re holding a sharp knife and rinsing blood down the sink. Loosening the stranglehold of the supermarkets is still a challenge – but sourcing the ingredients for any Nigella Lawson meal is almost impossible in town without incurring time and great expense. Later this week I’m going to post a free short story here which tackled that very subject.
Meanwhile, the peculiar institution that is the British sunday lunch has returned to popularity so much that it’s now almost impossible to get into pubs that rate highly on the Sunday lunch scale. Having given up in the Hooray-Henry baby-buggy-filled gastro-hell of Islington, we tried The Gunmakers, behind Marylebone High Street, and found – nestled beneath framed portraits of Sir Winston Churchill and cases of bullets – one of London’s best kept secrets; a knockout pub lunch made with meats from The Ginger Pig at a reasonable price in pleasant surroundings, without a toff or a tot in sight.