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Steve Plotnicki

British Restaurants Outside of Britain

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The notion propogated that pies are ways of using up leftover sraps and the purpose of the pastry is to bulk these out is incorrect.

Pies were the original take away food People bought  pies on the street from Piemen and ate them there and then.The purpose of the pastry was to contain the ingredients of the pie so that eating was manageable in the street without cutlery or plates.It was an edible equivalent of the cardboard box.Doubtless the pastry sometimes tasted worse than a cardboard box but people of all classes ate them and not just the poor.People also took them home to eat because it was cooked food that they could carry and many didn't have facilities to cook at home.

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You see, I have difficulty considering anything not fully encased in pastry a pie. . . . . Something with just a lid of pastry is not a pie, it's a cheat, a scam, a swindle. What I am looking for in a pie is the contrast of textures: the crisp flakiness of the outer shell, the richness of the pastry, the softness of the inside where it meets the sauces.

Jinmyo -- A "fully encased" standard seems pretty stringent. :wink:  On the lid vs. bottom portion point, a lid without a bottom could under certain circumstances (assuming the lid's edges adhere to the plate sufficiently) allow for the "gush" of often heady aromas released when the lid is pierced with the diner's utensils. This is the same effect as that from many pies. The sauce-meets-pastry effects, which I agree are important, might not be as pronounced when there is only a lid, but they are not entirely precluded.

I'd like to make the case that a bottom portion only pastry can support a pie (like pizza, although, for me, that should probably not be deemed a pie, at least if it's thin crust). Why can't stewed or other meats inside a pastry shell bottom with elevated borders be a pie? Are there well-known dishes like this?

Finally, note that, if encasement in pastry is the definition of pie, then a handsome French dish called "truffe en croute" (truffle in pastry) would also be a pie. I had this at Boyer Les Crayeres, Rheims. Here's how Charlie Trotter describes the truffle "golf ball": "The entree was pretty overwhelming: truffle en croute. Eating it is the most heady, sensual experience. People who have never had it just swoon! They take the whole black truffle, and foie gras, and cut it up into tiny slices, wrap it in puff pastry and roast it in the oven. It's slightly bigger than a golf ball. You cut into it and the first smell is unbelieveable! It costs $100 a person. After all, we're here to indulge a little bit."

http://metromix.com/top....00.html

Steven Shaw also notes this special dish: "And should you have the resources and the sense of humor, the dramatic climax of a meal at Les Crayeres is the whole black truffle baked in a pastry crust and smothered in truffle sauce."

http://www.fat-guy.com/article/view/88

I had a similar dish at Bruno at Terre des Truffes in Nice, with the accent of smoked bacon-like pork: La truffe en feuillete au foie gras, poitrine fumme, Tuber Melanosporum (truffe en croute with black truffle) (For other dishes in two relatively reasonably priced, all-truffle meals, see "Restaurants With Rooms" in "France").

I also had a truffe en croute dish at Loubet's at Le Moulin de Lourmarin.  The previous sampled items were all in the shape of a ball (not necessarily perfectly round, but a discernible ball). I sampled a "feuillete" with black truffles and foie gras at L'Ambroisie. It was not round, but a semi-circular or circular shape with ridged edges (like a giant potsticker of puff pastry), and its bottom portion lay quite "flat". I can't remember. Should the above truffle dishes be considered pies?  :wink:

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The purpose of the pastry was to contain the ingredients of the pie so that eating was manageable in the street without cutlery or plates.

By the way, which cutlery utensil(s) do members think would work best with the English meat pie? Although probably not available at most places that would offer the same, my vote would be for fork + sauce spoon (the latter for piercing the lid).

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May I suggest that the definition of an English pie has nothing to do with the amount of crust or even the presence of crust? Instead, I believe the requirements are: 1) Whatever starch is in the pie must be made soggy by the ingredients, and 2) In the event the starch is not made soggy by the ingredients it can only be because it was baked to the point of impermeability and inedibleness.


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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Should the above truffle dishes be considered pies?  :wink:

I think Marks and Sparks sells a mushroom and liver pie in their St. Michael's frozen section.

:smile:  :biggrin:  :raz:  :wink:


"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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Hi, I'm new in here.

My word, what a confused bunch. Everybody knows that British food sucks. Thats the reputation the Brits have, innit?

And poor Mr. Potnicki, trying to volubly stick to a point, and everybody else talking about pies.

Me, I know what pie I like; its gamey too.

The world wide net is a blast.

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I'm sure whatever they're serving at Taillevent is hardly recognizable as an English game pie, though.

There's the prejudice, you see, right there, and I think this is what is irritating some of us British, who have conceded throughout that French food is much better at all levels.

I am sure that Taillevent make a tasty game pie.  But what is the basis for the assumption that it would be better than anything a British chef can make?  I recall eating Richard Neat's snail pie (at Pied a Terre a few years back, and I'm sure it was called something fancier), and I've also eaten hare cooked by him more than once.  I think he could make quite a decent game pie indeed.  But the main point is - why assume he can't, just because he's British?  Why assume that Fergus Henderson, Richard Howard, Gary Rhodes (and so on) can't make a game pie up to a "Taillevent" standard?

It's the grip of the old myths, you see.  It's the old myths which have Plotnicki fixated on the idea that British cooks (in restaurants or at home) are making doughy pastry and thick floury sauces, using unstrained broth and scraps of meat.  Well, I don't, and no-one I know (who can cook) does.  And you won't find that kind of cooking in decent British restaurants any more.  It's a picture which was valid, as an "across the board" take on British gastronomy, maybe twenty years ago.  Not now.  I really thought people on this Board would be better informed.

By the way, Mr P asks if we can get back to his original question about why there aren't many British restaurants outside Britain.  I thought we'd answered that pretty thoroughly.  There are some.  Their aren't many, mainly because of lack of mass British emigration.  Emigration has carried most cuisines around the world, with the exception of French cuisine which has travelled for different reasons and is sui generis.  However, there's a lot more "British" restaurant cooking than there appears to be because, as Steven Shaw and I (and probably others) have pointed out, many dishes you find on menus in restaurants which do not "theme" themselves as British are actually typical british dishes.

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By the way, let me refresh myself by saying I agree with Steve Plotnicki.  The pie discussion, which is interesting and deserves a different thread, has nothing to do with his valid question about the influence of British gastronomy on restaurant culture outside Britain.

I think we got sidetracked when Plotnicki took a list of snacks which Tony Finch recommended as good with beer as being at the heart of British dining.  I admit I may have raised the game pie in another context too, but heaven knows where.

However, as I said above, I think Plotnicki's question was answered already.  Incidentally, time for a reality check.  I am not surprised French, Italian, Chinese, etc restaurants outnumber British, regardless of the immigration and other issues.  Let me hammer away at deaf ears:  a lot of British food is not that great; it certainly falls way behind French cuisine, and a lot of other cuisines too.  I have said this all along.  It is trying to catch up.  But as I also said, about a million years ago, it wouldn't be so far behind if not for the wars of the last century, and it is not (even if the judgment of a non-game eating, non-pastry eating fine bec is the summit of gastronomic opinion) all "shit".

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British food is awful, everybody knows that. This isn't myth, it is reality. There are somethings the British are good at (at least one or two) and things they are bad at. Dentistry, for one. Notice the higgledy-piggledy, yellowing teeth everywhere? Is anyone seriously going to argue about the state of British dentistry?

But food seems so much more emotive an issue, I wonder why. Why can't the Brits among you lot just accept it? Statistics show that Britain is at the bottom end of every quality of life measure for Western European countries - why is it so hard for you lot to accept that is true for food as well?

I mean, have you ever seen a Frenchman/Italian drinking ale?

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Hello, now we've got someone who thinks the beer's shit.  What's your pleasure, tutti frutti, a can of Rheingold?

In fact, I can feel an "American beer is shit" thread coming on.  But not today.

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Hi, "tutti-frutti".


"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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Or what about Steve’s “big guns”?  Or the Plotnicki school of logic:  “So point to as many specifics as you can. It won't change anything.”

Adam: On to more important topics. There’s a New York Times Forum discussing "Boswell's Presumptuous Task," by Adam Sisman at the mo. http://www.nytimes.com/

On left of page  you'll see "Opinion", click on "Readers' Opinion", then at right of next page you'll see at right "Forum Topics"--click on "Books".  (The forums are a bit hard to find on first visit.)

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I hope you are not suggesting that Mr. Plotnicki is a boring old wind bag, Yvonne.

You know I have tremendous respect for your opinions.

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Steve P, um, I mean "tutti-frutti," no one would suggest that. :wink:


"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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By the way, let me refresh myself by saying I agree with Steve Plotnicki.  The pie discussion, which is interesting and deserves a different thread, has nothing to do with his valid question about the influence of British gastronomy on restaurant culture outside Britain.

damn it Wifrid, I went to a lot of trouble to de-rail this topic.

Plotnicki - Stop grouping me with the British. I like them, but when given the chance I voted for an Australian republic, not to keep the Queen. Pity more of my fellow Australians didn't follow suit. :angry:

Yvonne - I am to stupid to find the article :sad: .

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Adam, I would vote for an English republic given the chance (ah, sedition).  

tutti frutti, I certainly don't find Steve P. boring, and I've no reason to believe he's old (older than me, anyway)...

:wink:

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You know I have tremendous respect for your opinions.

tutti frutti -- If you are comfortable discussing it, how would Yvonne know that -- perhaps she recommended the board to you after reviewing certain Steven Shaw threads?  :wink:

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Adam, I like pie!


"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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Plotnicki is 102 years old. Yet he throws down "whack" like a homie. He can also, pardon the expression, still bust you out with his super sperm. Because, in a nutshell, he's down by law and he knows his way around.


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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There are somethings the British are good at (at least one or two) and things they are bad at. Dentistry, for one. Notice the higgledy-piggledy, yellowing teeth everywhere? Is anyone seriously going to argue about the state of British dentistry?

I mean, have you ever seen a Frenchman/Italian drinking ale?

I think the state of our teeth is probably more down to poor dental hygiene than the state of our dentists. I don't think us Brits care too much for spirit level straight, Daz white teeth, the whole nation would look like a bunch of clones. :raz:

As for Ale, beer comes into this category and France has several famous beers including Kronenburg and the Alsace region is famous for its beer. Also Normandy and Brittanyare famous for their cider. :biggrin:

As for pies: A pie consists of a filling topped with a crust (usually pastry) and baked. Traditionally a British pie is made in a deep dish and has a pastry lid but not a base. Pies with a base are 'raised pies' (Larousse)   :wink:


"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Good. There should be more people eating pie. Steamed Chinese dumpling = pie. Epanada = pie. Samosa = pie. Pizza = pie (Duh). Bestilla = pie. Pie. Pye. Phi.

Curses, I think that tutti-nicki has pushed me over the edge. Note lack of internal dialogue.

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Much as I admire Steve for the proliferation on rap culture ( does he, I wonder take any of his bottles of Petrus and spill some on the ground offering 'one for my homies") the discovery of electricity, the splitting of the atom and many other things.  I do think (having met him and being pretty sure he is in his early sixties :smile: ) that his use of "whack" is far from "dope"

It reminds me of a distant uncle swilling too much beer and swaying to "Lady in Red" at a family wedding.

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The ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.


"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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