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Steve Plotnicki

British Restaurants Outside of Britain

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Since my assertions on the various threads about the general quality of British cuisine have been met with the usual requests for empirical evidence, and since my statments that all the Americans, French, Italians, Germans, Dutch, and everyone else I know who feels the same way about it have been rejected as unsubstantiated, I thought about how I might go about proving any of these things. Then I thought that a good way to do it might be based on evaluating the relevency of British food outside of Britain. And when I realized that outside of pubs, where the cooking is done by, well, hardly someone who would qualify as a chef the way we use the term, I realized that it was easy. That is because nobody eats British food outside of Britain.

So I can say that here in NYC, we have lots of French and loads of Italian restaurants. Chinese, Japanese and Thai up the wazoo. We have lots of Middle Eastern restaurants and loads of Indian places. And Mexican? Tons. Argentine steak houses and Brazilian Churascuarrias. And Russian restaurants. from every part of the USSR that split off. Uzbekistan, Georgian etc. But British? Is it one or two? And they hardly could be called grand affairs. And they are frequented mostly by expatriot Brits!

Where is this great cuisine I've been hearing about? Where on a Saturday night are they lined up to eat haggis and steak and kidney pie and the piece de resisitance, game pies like they are lined up to eat soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai or spaghetti and clam sauce at Don Pepe's? In NYC? In France, Italy, Madrid, Budapest or Berlin? In Tokyo or Bangkok? Are there great British restaurants in those countries they have been hiding from me? Please tell me, if the food is so good, why  isn't it in demand in other countries the way other cuisines are?

Aside from pubs, where the thrust is on drinking and not on the food, the only other thing I can think of that comes from England is the Tea Parlor concept, which is not entirely an English concept although an English Tea is clearly a defined culinary concept. And you can take tea each day at The Plaza or at The Pierre and there still might be an English Tea Parlor in the city somewhere, Mrs. Something or other. But that is pretty much the end of the line for the British contribution to current NYC food culture.

So I ask those who say the food is delicious, where is the proof? Who is clammoring for it? Who is serving Arbroath Smokies here? We have every type of smoked fish going in this town but for some reason, haddock has not been swimming up our rivers. And you know what, I quite like a smoked haddock poached in milk and served on mashed potatoes. But it is never something I would desire to eat outside of the U.K.

Well to me, that there isn't a clammor is sufficient evidence to say that outside of the U.K., people have no interest in British food. Can one draw the conclusion that it is because the food isn't great? All too easily if you ask me. But I will stand corrected if someone can point out where this great cuisine, with all it's delicious dishes is being served? But outside of the British Isles please. There's no need to prove that Brits like the food. I accept that they do. Just show me who else does.

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Doesn't the sandwich come from England?

How would you categorize what a chef like Paul Liebrandt is doing in New York? Or another example would be David Hawksworth of Ouest in Vancouver (I believe this to be one of the top restaurants in Canada and on par with any New York Times three-star place in New York). These are the disciples of MPW and others who represent so-called Modern British cuisine.

I think there is a significant British contribution to early American cuisine, and some of what was popular in New York way back when is still popular now. I certainly see at least partial British origins in the basic chophouse concept -- one of the most popular and successful of all American restaurant concepts -- and also there are many (I would say a preponderance of) British contributions to our breakfast and brunch rituals.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The question is an interesting one but framed as it is, in order for Plitinki to further rubbish British Food, one that doesn't merit a response.

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Fat Guy-I'm not sure about Liebrandt. Is he a MPW guy or really of the El Bulli/Heston school? But I would accept examples of Modern British cuisine being a "type" of restaurant. I just don't think Liebrandt is it. And I can't speak about Hawksworth. And yes you are also correct when you say that there are bits of British cuisine that we adopted like the sandwich. In fact the Brits do well with us before dinnertime. As for the Chop House, the British version (Keen's) is not the type that became popular here. Our chop houses grew out of the speakeasys (mainly run by Italian and German immigrants) which proliferated the west 50's during prohibition. In fact, the chapter on speakeasys written by A.J. Liebling is not only among the best food writing I ever read, is among the best writing I have ever laid eyes on. And our traditional seafood restaurants are British in nature as well. Everything from fried clams to boiled shore dinners. They all come from a British perspective. But in terms of current cuisine and technique? Nada, unless you rely on Liebrandt and he is hardly a trend all by himself.

LML-I guess I have you stumped (that is because there aren't any  :raz:) Believe me I would be happy for you to point to some. But let's be honest okay. The reason you aren't isn't because of me, it's that they do not exist. Come on admit it. It's only fair.

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Let's try to separate two distinct questions.  Where are the chefs cooking the same kinds of food which one finds being prepared in top British restaurants?  All over the place.  I know there was another thread about whther or not it's a good thing, but there is a globalization taking place when it comes to modern "Western" cuisine (I don't know if "Western" is right, because I want to include Australia, but it'll do).  You can eat very similar menus in good restaurants in London, Toronto, Sydney, and New York.  This goes to the improved standard of British professional cooking.

A completely separate question is: where do you find restaurants outside of Britain serving steak and kidney pie, haggis, smoked haddock, and so on?  Same place you find restaurants serving andouillettes, andouille du pays, tete de veau, bifteck de cheval, friandes, salade de museau, bouches a la reine - have I got that one right? - and all the other delicious stuff which one finds stacked to the rafters in the food shops of France.

A lot of stuff doesn't seem to travel, and I don't know why.  Not because it's "shit" apparently.  

Now, some of the foods we are talking about, French and English, are not really restaurant dishes.  Pork pies and friandes are typical, and potentially enjoyable snack foods; others, I suspect, are more likely to be found cooked in the home, or in very homely restaurants, than in cutting edge places.  So as far as asking where the restaurants are serving these kinds of dishes goes - it's misconceived, and it could be asked as well of France as of Britain.

Incidentally, I don't know Liebling's piece on speakeasies.  Do you happen to know where that's collected?  I'd love to read it.

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Wilfrid-The Liebling is on page 52 of the paperback copy of "Back Where I Came From" and it is called "Not Quite Gone are the Days"

Otherwise you have shifted the pea. On the British food thread, I made a statement that people from other countries than Britain who are part of what we call the "Western World" think poorly of British cuisine. Everyone jumped on me for saying it and I got the usual challenge of "prove it!" So I have offered the fact that there isn't any interest for the cuisine outside of Britain, and also showed evidence that there is acute interest in other cuisines in almost every other country.

So I ask you if that isn't proof that the cuisine is.... Well pick your adjective. You can start with lacks interest and end with shit. The argument about the degree of crappiness is simply a diversion. Let's just stick with the original premise and ask,  why if the food is so good aren't there any restaurants that serve it? And does the fact that there aren't any mean what I say it means?

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CitySearch.com lists nine "English" restaurants in New York City:

A Salt and Battery

Chip Shop

Keens Steakhouse  

Lady Mendl's

Mezze (not sure I agree with this one)

Tea & Sympathy

The British Open

Chadwick's Restaurant

Griswold's Pub

This seems like an odd and somewhat inconsistent list (are we listing pubs or not), but it does indicate a few pure examples.

Further to Wilfrid's point, I think that there has been globalization of cuisine but I think the English don't deserve much credit for contributing to it. They have mostly adopted it. There are however a few British stars that have created haute cuisine that can truly be called Modern British and they do have disciples. Liebrandt may not be pure Modern British, but I do think he indicates that there is interest outside the UK in MPW and Ramsay-like figures and what they cook.

Plotnicki, I've been meaning to disagree with a couple of your assumptions for awhile, and this is as good a time to do so as any. I haven't been getting too into the discussion because ultimately I agree with your British-food-sucks conclusions. But I don't think it's accurate to say that there is no interest in British cuisine outside of Britain. I can't see how you could say that if you've picked up a food magazine or a newspaper food section in the past decade. Britain is contantly, hundreds of times per year in all manner of media outlet, being portrayed as the hot, new place to eat great food. Traditional British foods are also currently en vogue among the gourmet set. And London -- and particularly restaurants near London -- have recently been coming into their own as gourmet destinations among the jet set. I don't think that's money well spent, but it is in fact being spent that way.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm hung up here on one issue--don't MPW and Gordon Ramsay cook French-influenced modern food?

Wilfrid--briefly to your point that "some of the foods we are talking about, French and English, are not really restaurant dishes" I'd agree that many of the English home-style dishes have not found their way onto restaurant menus worldwide--but the comparable French "home-style" dishes have--all over the world--and the French versions of their mothers and grandmothers cooking thrives to this day--on restaurant menus in France and abroad.  This French comfort food--which paralleled the haute cuisine track--perhaps is becoming even more relevant as the decades pass--and as the fine dining distinctions blur between countries.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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If you've ever had roasted prime rib, "pink as the dawn", you've had British food. If you've ever ordered it in a restaurant, they serve British food. If you've ever had a roast leg of lamb, you've had...


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Fatus-The export of Modern British cuisine is non-existent if you ask me. In fact the phrase "Modern British" is used to describe anything cooked in London that isn't French or Italian. A risotto made by Alastair Little is modern British because after all, he is a British chef. But the same risotto made by Antonio Carlucci is Italian. But something that is truly Modern British like the Griddled Scallops with Peas and Mint at Kensington Place,  that isn't something that there is a demand for outside of Britain.

Otherwise, this thread was really started not as a way to examine current day trends in British dining, it was started to prove whether people in countries outside of Britain "cared for" British cuisine. And based on the evidence you put forth on that list that came up on Citysearch, I will vote no.

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I'm hung up here on one issue--don't MPW and Gordon Ramsay cook French-influenced modern food?

The French influence is undeniable. But I also think it's undeniable that there is a uniqueness to their food. Or at least I can say that with confidence about MPW's food. There is no food like MPW's in France, and there is very little outside of Britain -- but there will be.

Here I think we get into semantics, and it's a question of where you draw the line: You could simply say that every modern haute cuisine establishment in the Western world outside of Italy is basically serving French-influenced food. Or you could say that various nations have incorporated a certain degree of French technique but have created independent cuisines. I mean, how would you characterize what is being served at all these three-star places in Spain? Or at the top American restaurants? Those places couldn't really exist without their French underpinnings, but they're not French restaurants in my opinion.

Plotnicki, in terms of restaurants, there is really a demographic issue at play as well. French cuisine is pretty much the only cuisine that thrives anywhere without a resident immigrant population to support it. All those other kinds of restaurants -- Italian, Greek, Russian, whatever -- got their momentum going during various waves of immigration. Even if you go all the way to the West Coast of Canada, the local Greek restaurants are owned by Greek immigrants. There is a certain American take on Italian food that now perpetuates itself without an Italian audience, but that's about it. The thing is, the last wave of British immigration we had here in America was in the 1700s. And since this is an English-speaking country with British roots, those Brits who have trickled in here in the past 200 years have been immediately integrated into majority society so they have not experiened the same pressures that other immigrants experience to open their own restaurants and preserve their ways. So it's not surprising to me that we don't have a lot of British restaurants. I wouldn't expect us to, even if I liked the food there. It's not as though we have a British neighborhood in Queens along the #7 subway line where all these British people are living with no British restaurants. Now that would be surprising.

What I'd like to see is statistical projection that takes the great waves of pre- and post-War immigration into account and then predicts how many restaurants of each ethnicity we should have in New York City as a statistical matter. Then I'd like to see who is over- and under-represented. I have a feeling the French are massively over-represented, the Italians and Greeks are somewhat over-represented, and the British are right about where we'd expect them to be.

Yet as we have documented and can continue to document ad nauseam, the British influence on traditional American cuisine is ubiquitous. And the British influence on any cuisine anywhere in the former British empire is patently apparent: Even in India, you will see major British influences in the local cuisines.

Now I agree with you that British cuisine is traditionally one of the world's least impressive. At some point I'd like to talk about it as a psychological issue: There seemed to be a time when the British were actually opposed to good food, as if it would somehow be vulgar to enjoy food the way those effete French do. But I give credit where credit is due: There are scores of British contributions to world cuisine. You need only walk through the ground floor of Fortnum & Mason to see them laid out neatly shelf after shelf: The condiments, the preserves, the smoked salmon. No, these are not fundamental techniques that influence the way haute cuisine or even bistro cuisine is prepared the world over. But they are felt nonetheless in the way people from all walks of life do their eating every day in every nation where a British presence has been felt and some where it hasn't.

So, to cut to the chase, I just don't see how saying there aren't many British restaurants outside of Britain supports your point. What we should be looking at is not what restaurants call themselves, but what influences have been exerted. Because there are plenty of restaurants that call themselves American that are really British in derivation, and I have no doubt the same is true in Canada, Australia, and all those other parts of the world where the British have left their mark.

I think that to say people outside of Britain don't like British cuisine assumes a few things. For one thing, it assumes the absence of all these favorable journalistic treatments I've been telling you about. For another thing, it assumes that people can correctly identify the origins of what it is they're eating. It's like any survey methodology: You can control it by manipulating the question you ask people. Question: Do you like British food? It's a staggeringly bad survey question. It's not a question about food; it's a question about stereotypes. Question: Do you like fish & chips? Question: Do you like rare roast beef with horseradish? Question: Do you like orange marmalade? Those are questions about food, and the answers are emphatically yes, yes, and yes for most citizens of the Western world.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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You boys can carry on about Marco Pierre White and Kensington Place but I'll tell you , when Marks & Spencers closed their Canadian stores, there was an outcry, not for the cheap cotton panties, but for the frozen food. I get ten letters a week from readers in desperate search of steak and kidney pies, sausage rolls, Welsh rarebit, Melton Mowbray pies, marmite, Cadbury flake bars and all those British delicacies. I had two dozen people looking for haggis this fall along with pork pies, and vacuum-packed kippers. At Christmas loads of people wanted plumb pudding, eccles cakes and mincemeat. We had to track down French butchers and bakers willing to make the stuff. I never knew these people existed until Marks & Sparks left town.

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Steve-Well if you insist on changing my question, of course it won't prove anything. I have no interest in how the British might have influenced our cuisine. I'm quite content to give them credit for the things we got from them like those cottony tasting white bread buns they serve at seafood restaurants in New England. And I'm ready to give other cuisines like German food which seem to have gotten lost in a culinary wasteland credit for things like the hot dog.

But that is not what the original post was about. This post was started because certain people were claiming that things like haggis, steak and kidney pie, game pie, i.e., traditional British food was delicious. And when I said that people outside of England generally think of the cuisine as horrible, the Brits on the board refused to believe me. So I have asked, if the stuff is so good, how come that English restaurants aren't springing up everywhere like Starbucks?

As for demographics, the issue isn't how many Chinese frequent Chinese restaurants, or how many Japanese visit sushi places, the issue is how many non-ethnic diners frequent those places? NYC is a diverse place. If you go into a Chinese restaurant, everyone is eating there. Jews, Italians, Russians, the whole kit and kaboodle. Now show me just one ethnic group who has even the slightest desire to eat English cuisine.

To me this is the simplest explanation we have come across in any thread I've participated in. People vote with their stomachs. And the reason we have lots of French,  Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, etc. is the food is delicious. And the reason we don't have as many British, German, Polish, Swedish, etc. restaurants is the food *isn't* anywhere as  delicious. And you have proven that if it's good and you build it (as in French,) people will come. But if it isn't really good, you are basically limited to your own ethnic group.

So list away. People might like roast beef with horseradish but there are hardly any restaurants that serve roast beef anymore. And fish and chips? Gee is Manhattan abound with fish and chip places? Not unless when you say fish and chips the word is intended to describe souvlaki. And marmalade? Is that a British contribution? I always thought confiture was a French thing? But I guess you're right. Tomorrow I am going to go down to 22nd street and get a roast chicken at The English Butcher, whoops, I mean French Butcher.

Lesley C-I believe you. But is it expats or people who have a connection to the homeland? I also understand that in Paris M & S has a large British food section that is popular. Maybe this is the start of English food becoming popular. But I always believe in the strength of numbers. If the demand was so great, they wouldn't have closed it in the first place.

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Steve - although you have posed this question in an attempt to prove you are right and everyone else is wrong, which is an utterly contemptuous, patronising and manically egotistical thing to do, you have in fact raised a very interesting question.

To find the answer, I think we need to ask the question "Why aren't there any restaurants in Britian serving British food". Yes, there are chip shops and in the East End of London, pie and mash shops, but the majority of restaurants in this country are Indian, Chinese and Italian. French comes way down the list in terms of volumes, and British hardly registers. We simply have no solid base of restaurant culture of our own to export to anyone.

But that doesn't prove that British Food is shit. All it shows is that the immigrant population of this country show a great deal more initiative, are better businessmen and have enough pride in the food of their native country to believe that others will like it, which is quite obvioulsy true.

BTW the way, all Italian food is shit, and not a patch on the great dishes of British food. The only reason there are so many restaurants doing it is that is a piece of piss to cook, requires little or no skill to prepare, basic food costs are low and you can make a mint off it. This is not true of British food, which requires a significant amount of time and skill to prepare and is therfore not so attractive a propostition to prospective restauranteurs (see, you can argue anything if you reduce it down far enough and ignore lots of things. Doesn't actually get us anywhere though does it?).

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Where is this great cuisine I've been hearing about In NYC? In France, Italy, Madrid, Budapest or Berlin? In Tokyo or Bangkok? Are there great British restaurants in those countries they have been hiding from me?

This begs another question Where in France are people queueing up for Italian,Chinese and Japanese food?(OK a few ethnic restaurants in Paris but that's it)

The wonderful French cuisine that you hold so dear-are people clamouring for it in Italy?Or in Spain,or in Australia in New Zealand? I will mention China ,Thailand etc. even though you've made it clear in other posts that their opinions don't count in these debates.

Where are there non Spanish restaurants in Spain?Or non

Greek restaurants in Greece.?  As Fat Guy says a country or a city's restaurant culture is determined by immigration patterns as much as anything else and that is why there is such a range available in London and NYC.

But in Rome no-one gives a stuff about French food,or Spanish food,or Thai food or any of the cuisines that you hold up as superior to British. No-one is clamouring for rognons de veau a la creme in Bangkok,believe me.However the meat pie does still hold sway in vast tracts of Australia and New Zealand and toy can still get great Anglo Indian cuisine(discussed recently on the India board ) from Bombay to Nairobi.

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And marmalade? Is that a British contribution? I always thought confiture was a French thing? But I guess you're right.

Plotnicki - a small thing, you can't claim sugar + fruit as a French thing. It's Moorish/Muslim thing, if anything. Anyway the history of marmalade (as in British Orange Marmalade) is really well documented and widely know (It's Scottish). The name comes from the Spanish for "Quince" as did the original Seville Oranges that the marmalade. Man, do I have to educate you on everything? :smile:

Boy, in the future all this is going to make some funny reading. Some anthropology student is going to read all these comments and say "Can you believe this Plotnicki guy* , he says that "French" cooking was the best? God, these people ate some shite and thought that it was not only edibile, but great food! Bugger this for a joke, I'm off to have a Steak 'n' Kidney Pud."

*"Plotnicki" beaten to death with smoked haddock by enraged English pie seller (Hence "Haddock Plot. Day"), now know as the start of the Great Food Revolution. This violence continued, until all French influence was removed from the popular food culture and what we now know as the True British Food Laws were placed in the constitution.

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Steve, your question proceeds from a false premise.  Perhaps my London colleagues will correct me, but if you are talking about British food, then you must consider the whole of the empire.  What you mean, I suspect, is Englishcuisine.

I say cuisine because, outside of barbecue, America does not have a native cuisine -- merely an amalgam of French, Italian, German and other European cuisines.  Just look at GT, the best American restuarant in the world, which is primarily based on French cooking techniques.

What you are really comparing, then, is French and Italian cuisine, to English cuisine, which of course arrives at an obvious conclusion.  Indeed, there are very few "pure" English restaurants in London above the average pub.  Some like Rules, Green's and Wilton's serve traditional English fare, as do Keen's and the Manhattan Ocean Club in New York.  Others, like the mighty St. John's, seek to reinvent English cuisine through modern cooking techniques.  Most of the "important" European restaurants in London are French (Gordon Ramsay, Le Gavroche etc.), just like NYC.

In the end analysis, while the English can justifiably claim a native cuisine, America cannot.  I believe something about living in a glass house applies here.

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Plotnicki, I addressed your question with great specificity from multiple angles and went on to explain its failings. Just because I gave an answer you don't like doesn't mean I changed your question. You now are the one who's trying to change it by relying on things said on the predecessor thread. If you wanted to do that, you shouldn't have started a new thread in the first place in an attempt to isolate the specific question that I was trying to answer. As I've tried to explain, I agree with your premise from the old thread, if not the with the absolutist come-hell-or-high-water version of it. I just think you haven't done anything to prove your point with this detour, and in fact you've made me realize how influential British cuisine has been in areas I hadn't focused on. I'll spare everyone the agony of posting excerpts from your posts and my posts, since they're all right here, but it couldn't be clearer to me that you're the one trying to change the question back to "Does British food suck?"

You think fish and chips aren't popular in the United States? Have you never eaten at Long John Silver's or Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips? These restaurants are justly popular, and should be more popular. Which raises a point that I think again shows why your question doesn't prove anything -- which I hasten to point out doesn't mean I'm changing the question, but am rather demonstrating what's wrong with it. Your question is based on the premise that people vote with their stomachs. Surely you'd be the first to admit that popular tastes in food are the least reliable indicator of the quality of that food. Even if no American liked Arthur Treacher's, I'd gladly stand up and defend the proposition that it's the best fast food chain in America. Would you back away from that, if you believed it? Of course not. Need I remind you that popular tastes the world over reject French cuisine? Go anywhere in America outside of a large city or a place where all the vacationers come from large cities and you'll find that only a tiny percentage of elites dines in French restaurants -- the rest of the people think French food is an affront, not that there are any French restaurants in these places. It's untenable to speak the language of populism out of one side of your mouth while rejecting popular taste out of the other as you've done on so many other threads.

Fish and chips aren't popular in America? Have you never looked on the menu of just about any standard-issue seafood restaurant? Or even many Greek diners? What do you think the Filet-O-Fish sandwich at McDonald's is based on, anyway? Do you really not think fish and chips done well is great food? I can't possibly have this conversation with you if you don't think fish and chips is good eating.

I can't believe you persist in claiming that people outside Britain hate British food. Plenty of them like it. They're wrong, but they like it. Again, pick up any food magazine or newspaper food or travel section and read the grandiose statements written by non-Brits about how great British food is. The existence of this overwhelming body of evidence couldn't be more obvious.

Moreover, are you prepared to document that all or even half of the people eating at the British Open in Manhattan on any given night are British expats? But that's not even what I was arguing, and it's not what you really care about. It addresses your question, but it doesn't address the point. And that's the fault of your question, not my answer.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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A much better example to underline Steve Ps point would be Australia.This is one of the few countries in the world in relatively recent times with substantial immigration from Britain.Poor immigrants ,not moneyed colonisers.Given that its clear that immigration has a profound effect on a nation's eating culture,it is actually pathetic to realise that British immigrants did not take with them anything that could be remotely described as a cuisine.They took the pub culture with them and that was it! The same applies to the Irish in places like Boston-lots of Italian restaurants in Boston but how many Irish ones?-plenty of Irish themed pubs though.

Australia ,especially Sydney and Melbourne,has some of the most exciting and innovative restaurant cooking around right now.I was there for 6 weeks in the mid-nineties and was stunned by the quality and exuberance of the restaurant scene. But my point is that this only begun to happen as a result of immigration from all over Asia.The new immigrants are interested in something more than twenty pints of lager and a meat pie at the end of the night.Along with commited young Aussies they are developing a melting pot of influences to drive food forward.You can call it "fusion" but in a world less straitened by concepts of national cuisine and hierarchies of cuisine,there is a freshness about it that totally works in context there.

So in my opinion British cuisine failed the immigration test.It had a chance to really establish itself anew and it failed.Yes you can still get Fish and Chips and meat pies in Oz,and in some places they're bloody good.But the real culinary excitement is being driven from a different tradition-although it certainly isn't French!

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Tony - you have made me all home sick :smile: . Tradionally the top restaurants in Melbourne were "French" (even though there was very little French immigration to Australia), I think this was part of our Anglo-Saxon heritage that good food = French food. I think that Plotnicki would have loved Australia in the 1980's -90's.

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I think Australia is an excellent example of a country taking on the best of its immigrant culture ( Canada is another, Vancouver in particular ) because it has no hang ups.

The Australia I visited in the late 80's was as depressing a place to eat as London.  Certain places in Australia now are among the best in the World.

I am no fan of Sydney.  It is a small town that can't get over the fact and I think its restaurants reflect that.  They shout and scream like a kid seeking attention and suffer from that.  Melbourn on the other hand is a wonderful place.  instead of trying to be a "world class city" whatever that means it is content to be a superb Australian city and consequently excels at so many levels, food included.

And when you are there you don't have to watch them let f**king fireworks off that damn bridge and expect us all to go "ooh" and "aagh"

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"Yes you can still get Fish and Chips and meat pies in Oz"

Tony, I've been to Australia and New Zealand a total of seven times (three plus four) in the past decade and can say with some authority that fish and chips are a consuming passion for a large segment of the population. I would argue that far more people eat fish and chips on a regular basis than eat at or even want to eat at the Tetsuya-like restaurants in Sydney. Not to mention the best fish and chips I have ever had have been Down Under. I am sure our Australia-based hosts could say something about this.

I'm not familiar with the immigration statistics regarding Australia. I was not under the impression that the nation was chock full of English recent arrivals.


Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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I would argue that far more people eat fish and chips on a regular basis than eat at or even want to eat at the Tetsuya-like restaurants in Sydney.

Absolutely,but that applies to anywhere.One sometimes has the impression reading some of these threads that the French spend all their time dining at places like Ducasse and Gagnaire etc.One of the difficulties in discussing national cuisine is knowing which national cuisine we're talking about. Chefs may be media personalities these days but what the guy at EL Bulli is cooking up bears as much relation to what 99% of the Spanish actually eat as Gordon Ramsey's ouevre does to what my mate's Gran eats in Hartlepool.

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Ellen - even with the removal of the "White Australia" policy post-WWII, there was still a large amount of British immigrating to Australia. We even have a nick-name for them "Whinging Poms" :biggrin: . All the statistics you may wish to find are at:

http://www.immi.gov.au/statistics/

Fish 'n' chips are very popular (and on a very subjective basis (ie. variety, freshness, skill of cooking) better then many UK versions. However, recently they have lost ground to South-East Asian foods, in terms of popularity. In Australia, I would almost exclusively eat Fish 'n' Chips only when going down to the beach, when I was a kid we would take them home and have them as a family meal.

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There actually used to be an Australian restaurant here in Ottawa. Must have been six years ago or more. Certainly not an establishment for fine dining. Meat pies on the menu, of course. Fish and chips. Burgers and fries. Some lamb dishes. The building that they (and several other restaurants) were in was sold out from underneath them and they shut down, as far as I know.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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