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Cooking for our Queen


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Though Indian food is indeed, Indian, I thought that the use of spices in British cooking, and the use of fruit and 'local' herbs in meat cookery, is as traditional as boiled mutton with caper sauce and the ubiquitous hot pot or...fish and chips.

Why and where from does a view exist that having been in the British cooking lexicon for hundreds of years, the use of spices is still not intrinsically British? If the line has to be drawn as to what foreign influences are accepted as British, then where should that line be drawn?

Case in point, potatoes. Brought here from South America (Peru?) in the 16th century or thereabouts? But noone has any problem accepting them as intrinsically British nowadays. Its a fundamental part of the hot pot after all. So, why draw the line at spices? They are only a century or so 'newer' than potatoes. I havent read and dont own any old/antique British cookbooks, but I am sure (have heard) that the use of spices has been common in a certain type of British cookery for centuries now.

Anyhow, I completely agree that the 'rules' or guidelines for this competition are blurry at best, and I do wonder why some of the ingredients and cooking styles are still not, however loosely and whatever it means, British.

Lasagne (not Galton Blackiston's lobster version) is apparently the most popular ready meal bought at supermarkets. But I agree that this doesnt make it a 'British' dish, just cos its widely eaten here. But, then again, one could argue that we call 'bolognese', tho it may have Italian origins, could not be anything but British in its execution and taste. No Italian would claim our version of Bolognese as Italian, would they?

Just goes to show, that what with the influences this country has had on its culture and national identity overall, a definition of Britishness is hard to come by in any realm, however hard the government tries with these exams about Britishness for immigrants.

Just my thoughts, hope no offence was caused.

Raj

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I think this concept of trying to quantify what British Cooking means is a bit like trying to define a dog. I mean everybody recognises a dog when they see one but trying to find a short definition that fits all breeds is, er, tricky. I don't think we can rule out any dish just because it contains imported or non-native ingredients, as Raj says we have been importing and using spices for centuries, although I might qualify this by restricting it to ingredients which are commonly available in general or are specific to a particular area. So that allows laver bread (specific), passion fruit (general) but rules out soft-shell crab (non-specific and rare). I suppose one possible thought for "typical" is what would be served in a bourgeois or "middle class" British restaurant. So you might get some interesting spicing and elements of "fusion" cooking in the better ones but you wouldn't get anything as full-on Indian as Tandoori chicken and some of the other elements so ably showcased by Atul. So Indian influence is fine, remember Coronation Chicken, but Atul's cooking is not Indian influenced British, it's British influenced Indian.

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Good points, but I think that with these definitions different individuals will have different boundries and these boundries are in flux.

That's is why I think that these show was flawed. The UK doesn't have a cohesive enough idea of "British Cuisine" to allow useful definitions of "regional" cuisines. Sure, Hotpot is easy, but it as at one polar extreme of regional v generic British food. Look at the trouble the judges have had with this format.

Better if they said, British chefs from different regions, do your best.

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That's is why I think that these show was flawed. The UK doesn't have a cohesive enough idea of "British Cuisine" to allow useful definitions of "regional" cuisines.

Judging by the recent wafflings of our government's think tanks the UK doesn't have a cohesive enough idea of "British" to allow useful definitions.

T

Tim Hayward

"Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from

similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like

'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?"

Nora Ephron

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Tonight's favoured three are Marcus Wareing (Custard Tart), Galton Blackiston (Treacle sponge), and Michael Caines (Raspberry Mousse).

I was shouting at the TV though as the judges marked down Nick Nairn's raspberry souffle on the grounds that the Mansion House kitchens are three floors below the dining hall. I really wanted to vote for him, but there was a massive look of relief on his face as they announced that he had come fourth and wouldn't get a chance to prepare 350 souffles. :blink:

Edit: and just for the record, in case anyone from the BBC should read this, may I just say how much I realy really really really hate the imbecilic commentary of the 'will Galton have done enough?, will Nick have to cook his souffles?' variety when we've already seen how the judges scored each dish so anyone capable of adding three digits together already knows the answers. Why can't the BBC ever treat the viewers like adults?

Edited by Duncan (log)
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Everyone knows Lasagne was really invented by M&S so thats fine.

Surprised none of the chefs got clever and tried to get one of the judges to complain about a creme brulee not being British (Would have to call it burnt cream though)

If they really wanted to keep the royal family happy they should probably serve bratwurst and sauerkraut though.....

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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So, we have entered page 7 of comment on what some old woman may have for lunch, thereby passing the L'Encume thread to become the second-most discussed UK subject of recent times. Only two more pages to go before it tops Ramsay's Hospital Food at #1.

Meanwhile, major restaurant openings -- Papillon, Amici, Kilo, Rivington Greenwich, Yakitoria, Tamesa, Dune, The National -- go unmentioned.

Is anyone else bemused by this?

Edit correction: just noticed that threads on Fat Duck and Anthony's in Leeds are both ahead of Sweary Gogs, which puts Lunch with Brenda down to #4.

Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.

Edited by naebody (log)
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Meanwhile, major restaurant openings -- Papillon, Amici, Kilo, Rivington Greenwich, Yakitoria, Tamesa, Dune, The National -- go unmentioned.

Is anyone else bemused by this?

Not really. The programme is a daily event accessible to everyone with a tele - its bound to be a current and reoccuring talking point. All those establishments you mention have some profile but I wouldn't say they are major openings and quite possibly not the sort of place that would atract your average egulleter (if there is such a thing). I have been to Kilo and didn't think it worth writing up for example. There has been discussion of Arbutus, Bar Shu and Galvin, all of which are major openings and the sort of place that would attract your average eGulleter.

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Not really. Major restaurant openings mostly happen IN thatLondon, and so are available to only a small number of eG readers, and even smaller number of whom will have been. And if they're NOT in London, the relevant figure is tiny. Beyond saying 'can't wait to go' or ' sounds interesting' or 'eating in the dark? how stupid', there's not much to say until a goodly proportion of the messageboard population have been (barring insults over the reviews).

Whereas a telly programme is something we can all experience and, more importantly, feel superior to.

[EDIT: SNAP, but I am NOT Andy Lynes]

Edited by BertieWooster (log)

It no longer exists, but it was lovely.

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So, we have entered page 7 of comment on what some old woman may have for lunch, thereby passing the L'Encume thread to become the second-most discussed UK subject of recent times. Only two more pages to go before it tops Ramsay's Hospital Food at #1.

Meanwhile, major restaurant openings -- Papillon, Amici, Kilo, Rivington Greenwich, Yakitoria, Tamesa, Dune, The National -- go unmentioned.

Is anyone else bemused by this?

Edit correction: just noticed that threads on Fat Duck and Anthony's in Leeds are both ahead of Sweary Gogs, which puts Lunch with Brenda down to #4.

Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.

No because everyone on these boards has probably seen at least one episode of this, whereas only a handful will have been to those restaurants and most may never go. Maybe the whole thing should be in the food media forum, but I think a major tv series which many (wrongly) will feel adequately reflects the state of British cuisine is more relevant than a few restaurants which will probably have closed down this time next year.

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Fair enough. Even though I consider that food shows are to eating as Baywatch is to sex, I can understand the whole inclusiveness angle.

However, I'm still a little hazy on why so many otherwise sensible people are talking about the daily goings on with such gravity. All these messages about a compromised concept and flawed judging criteria ... it's a flipping game show! And a rubbish one at that!

I simply cannot take seriously the ludicrous pantomime of a slow-burn celebrity cookoff for benefit of a societal anachronism. And I consider it offensive that we, as a nation, are supposed to jump up like unspeyed corgis at the opportunity to influence what to put in front of someone who will not even be able to respond with an opinion. And even if she did have a view it wouldn't be worth anything, because she's not actually that interested in food. (I highlight once again that Brenda refuses to consume garlic, shellfish, spaghetti, tomato-based sauces, foreign water and rare meat, but is terribly precious with her cornflakes.)

The flaws to the concept are so central that, if they were taken away, we'd be left watching the test card.

Edited by naebody (log)
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And even if she did have a view it wouldn't be worth anything, because she's not actually that interested in food. (I highlight once again that Brenda refuses to consume garlic, shellfish, spaghetti, tomato-based sauces, foreign water and rare meat...

That's as maybe but she is the host for this beano so what matters is what she serves to her guests rather than what she eats. As for her reluctance to consume said items above, in her position with a busy schedule and food being prepared in 'unknown' kitchens to be eaten in public in a decorous manner seems like sensible precautions to me.

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Tonight's favoured three are Marcus Wareing (Custard Tart), Galton Blackiston (Treacle sponge), and Michael Caines (Raspberry Mousse).

I was shouting at the TV though as the judges marked down Nick Nairn's raspberry souffle on the grounds that the Mansion House kitchens are three floors below the dining hall. I really wanted to vote for him, but there was a massive look of relief on his face as they announced that he had come fourth and wouldn't get a chance to prepare 350 souffles. :blink:

His souffle was very good but MPW has a version where the sides of the souffle are sriped with a raspberry puree; very colourful.

The BBC book seems to have two sets of recipes from each competitor; does this mean we have to go through all this suspense all over again?

:smile:

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Final results: Smoked Salmon from the Irish contestant, Turbot & Oxtail from the Welshman, Venison from the Scot, and Lancashire Custard Tart.

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Final results: Smoked Salmon from the Irish contestant, Turbot & Oxtail from the Welshman, Venison from the Scot, and Lancashire Custard Tart.

What an awful dis-jointed sounding menu. It's a shame really, because individually, some of the dishes look and sound very good.

Glad I'm not going. :rolleyes:

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Final results: Smoked Salmon from the Irish contestant, Turbot, Oxtail from the Welshman, Venison from the Scot, and Lancashire Custard Tart.

Actually I think they have - by hook or by crook - come up with a perfectly reasonable menu.

There is a decent mix of hot and cold dishes, cooking methods (marinade, pan-fry, braise, patisserie) and ingredients (with the exception of the fish-then-fish start - but note how the fish dishes are enormously dissimilar).

The only real criticism I can see is that it isn't massively summer-seasonal. It is more an autumn menu. If I were nit-picking it may also be a little heavy in the middle (Turbot, Oxtail, Venison all hearty) - depends on the portion control I guess.

On a practical note with two cold dishes, plus an oxtail component you can prep ahead it is also eminently suited for a banqueting situation (viz souffles).

All in all I'd be very happy to have that menu. It is neither boring dull, nor off-the-wall radical. It however is recognisably British.

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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His souffle was very good but MPW has a version where the sides of the souffle are sriped with a raspberry puree; very colourful.

Had that baby once at the Restaurant Hyde Park back in the day. It was on the cheapo lunchtime set.

Toothachingly sweet though - pastry chef had dumped far far too much sugar in. The stripes were nice though (went well with the wallpaper, if I recall)

J

PS Welcome Sticky!

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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Edit: and just for the record, in case anyone from the BBC should read this, may I just say how much I realy really really really hate the imbecilic commentary of the 'will Galton have done enough?, will Nick have to cook his souffles?' variety when we've already seen how the judges scored each dish so anyone capable of adding three digits together already knows the answers. Why can't the BBC ever treat the viewers like adults?

Well, technically, the BBC were simply the broadcasters of the programme. The series was made by an independent production company.

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Edit: and just for the record, in case anyone from the BBC should read this, may I just say how much I realy really really really hate the imbecilic commentary of the 'will Galton have done enough?, will Nick have to cook his souffles?' variety when we've already seen how the judges scored each dish so anyone capable of adding three digits together already knows the answers. Why can't the BBC ever treat the viewers like adults?

Well, technically, the BBC were simply the broadcasters of the programme. The series was made by an independent production company.

Are you saying that the BBC don't have editorial control over the program? I thought the BBC commissioned productions from independant companies such as Optomen (which implies that the BBC are driving the process), not that the companies produce the programs and then hawk them to the highest bidder.

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The only real criticism I can see is that it isn't massively summer-seasonal. It is more an autumn menu.  If I were nit-picking it may also be a little heavy in the middle (Turbot, Oxtail, Venison all hearty) - depends on the portion control I guess.

It's a heavy meal, and the dishes don't flow.

It's not all that seasonal.

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What would everyone else have chosen?

Mine would have been:

Simon Rimmer's Smoked venison loin with pickles and Cumberland sauce

Bryn Williams' Pan-fried turbot with cockles and oxtail

OR

Michael Caines' Pan-fried Cornish lobster with young summer vegetables and herbs in a saffron bisque

Galton Blackiston's Roast Norfolk duckling with orange served with bubble and squeak

Paul Rankin's Buttermilk cream with rhubarb and rose petals

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Are you saying that the BBC don't have editorial control over the program? I thought the BBC commissioned productions from independant companies such as Optomen (which implies that the BBC are driving the process), not that the companies produce the programs and then hawk them to the highest bidder.

Given that the series has effectively been given the rights to choose the menu for the Queen's birthday party, I would guess that the BBC, rather than Optomen, had the clout to swing that and so I'm supposing that they commissioned the series. Equally, I am sure that they had editorial control, but how far into the script that went, I don't know. Incidentally, looking at the Optomen website makes me realise how big a project this was - 40 half hour programmes!

Programmes are both commissioned by broadcasters and pitched by the 'indies' (possibly just at the 'idea' stage) - didn't Pat Llewellyn (of Optomen, incidentally) come up with Naked Chef, Two Fat Ladies, French Leave and others?

What I meant originally was that the BBC these days is both a broadcaster and content producer, but that people haven't got used to differentiating between the two.

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Apropos of what she will be having for her 80th birthday, I was interested to note what Her Majesty was served for her coronation.

<p style='border: 1px dotted green; text-align: center'>

Chicken Consommé garnished with cubes of egg custard.

Fillet of Beef garnished with quarters of artichoke bottoms, tossed in butter with cocotte potatoes and slices of truffle.

Salad

Mango Ice Cream.

</p>

From The Old Foodie

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