A few years ago British food was something of a running joke. In fact, good British food was a myth. Fish and chips plus a Sunday roast seemed to be the highlight of our national menu and it required a trip abroad in order to sample good cooking from real chefs.
How times have changed. Thanks to the Jamies, Gordons and Ricks of the world, British food has established itself as some of the most eclectic and best around. French people now visit the UK to get a decent meal.
Read on to find out how we got here and to celebrate the best in great British food.
For centuries we had the best and most varied cuisine in Europe. The kitchens of the English court and the great houses of the Middle Ages cooked with a much wider variety of spices and ingredients than in anywhere else in Europe. Ginger, saffron, pepper, galangal, nutmeg and cinnamon were all common ingredients and far from being used to ‘cover up the taste’ they were combined with great skill and delicacy.
So, where did it all go wrong?
In the UK things began to rapidly change and the largesse that had encouraged experimentation among households had been stigmatised. Plain speaking, plain thinking and plain eating became the British mantra. This, combined with the industrial revolution, severed regional traditions of cooking and dealt British food a blow from which it has only recently recovered. As the empire expanded, we pioneered tinned and frozen food and we came to depend on fast food as a quick fix in the midst of long working days.
But all was not lost. The dissolution of that Empire filled our high streets with a diversity of ethnic food that recalls the glories of the medieval past. Our taste for hot, sour and spicy food seems as keen as ever. And work of chefs like Heston Blumenthal has revived our interest and respect for past dishes and the world beating quality of our fresh produce.
Try it for yourself
Book a stay at a Best Western hotel and you sample some of the best British food available on our sceptered isles. Here’s three you should certainly try: