Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Vous Voulez Ketchup Avec Ca?

Nigella displays her bountiful cherries
It might not be common knowledge abroad, but we Brits are now a nation of gastronomes. This is a mighty blow to the French whose national pastime is to knock our grub (Mon dieu! Zis is cheese? It tastes like soap), but I suspect we now eat better than they do. If you don't believe me, have a mouth-watering rib-eye at our local pub1, then jump on the Eurostar2, wander down the Champs Elysees, and order steack frites3. You'll be picking the gristle out of your teeth for days.

How has this miracle come to pass? You can thank the celebrity chefs. Morning, day and night our TV is full of high-profile foul-mouthed macho chefs, ranging from Jamie Oliver (cor, strike a light, this pate en croute is f***ing sublime) to Huge Fartley-Whittlingstool (Keeping pigs is rewarding and ecologically fulfilling. Now watch while I kill one) to Gordon Ramsay (Who's f***ing moved my f***ing hat. I can't f***ing cook without my f***ing hat on, can I?)

Ah ha! We Brits rule the world in this field! Even you mighty Yanks have hamstrung yourself, by insisting that your celebrity chefs were already famous for something else. All you can offer is Paul Newman's (admittedly tasty) dressings. There's a lady called Martha Stewart who has an interesting take on prison food. And no, I don't want to buy a grill from George Foreman. Is that it?

There are a couple of frenchies in the offing, but they all live in London, so they're really Brits too. Game over!

This is also a recent UK history in microcosm. When I was a kid, '70s Britain was an austere place. The chef of choice was one Fanny Craddock, a truly nasty old lady who would frequently whack her husband with a rolling pin whenever his fingers ventured into her puff pastry.

On to the deliciously excessive '80s, and stagger forward Keith Floyd, bon viveur and utter drunk, who'd slur and sway his way through a recipe, and polish off an entire St Emilion Grand Cru in 25 minutes. No-one can remember anything he cooked, but he was meshmerishing mishermeshing hypnotic.

Then in the '90s, decade of consumption and choice, we went nuts. Delia Smith! Gary Rhodes! Ainsley Harriott! Rick Stein! Lloyd Grossman! Anthony Worral Thompson! All household names, and every single one of them released a book at Christmas, and/or a range of barbecue tongs, kitchen appliances, coffee machines, pasta sauces, flavoured condoms, you name it.

Which brings us to the sassy no-holds-barred noughties, and the current lot. Little wonder we're all fat.

Well, now it's my turn. I am a bit of a foodie. I eat most days, sometimes more than once, and I take my gastronomy seriously. I'm working on a modest book, "Chew On This", which might not be ready for Christmas but should be available for barbecue season, which in England is the afternoon of July 17th4.

You'd like a little taster? My modest contribution to our culinary cornucopia includes Battered Curly-wurly in Creme Fraiche. Delicious. Watching the cholesterol? Then may I recommend you my Cheerio Sushi Surprise? You may not like Cheerios, or sushi, but I guarantee you'll be surprised.

1 - Assuming you've got a spare forty quid
2 - Assuming you've got a spare two hundred quid
3 - Assuming you've got a spare three euros fifty, and can put up with the rudest waiter you've ever met
4 - Unless it's raining


  1. Your maman in law is reading this Ubergrumphy so beware.....

  2. "barbecue season, which in England is the afternoon of July 17th"

    You, my friend, are a genius.

    If it rains on the 17th July I BBQ on regardless dagnammit I will not be stopped.

  3. Delia Smith does flavoured condoms? Must be the only time she has a smile on her face...

  4. hey, you forgot Nigella Lawson! i don't know about her cooking, but she was said the most beautiful woman in uk!

    my favorite is Giada De Laurentiis - Everyday Italian.

  5. UG won't have a word said against the lovely Nigella - somebody told me he likes them big and juicy.

  6. Giada - Everyday Italian is my favorite...I love her and the cooking :)

  7. I have NEVER laughed this hard at a post. EVER.


    And I really need a Brit-to-NORMAL ENGLISH dictionary. Thanks in advance.


  8. Hey you forgot us Yanks have Rachael Ray too!

  9. When I was in England last December I loved the food.

    And I love Gordon Ramsay.. he's here with us a lot (US)

  10. Somebody just HAD to mention Rachael. DANG! We are so tired of her. She was cute and funny for awhile, now she's just everywhere with her orange, confused, over-priced cookware.

    I'm so glad you told me Brits had good food. I've never noticed that before. ;-)

  11. Go Uber!!!! Too right! Been to Paris and the food sucks! I love food, but it has to be proper food! Here in Spain the rule seems to be you eat the whole animal! It is truly vile to go to the butchers counter-" so my dear, what will it be today...half a pigs ear, a chickens bottom and a pigs trotter?" Bleugh! Bring on Brit Grub! Not even going to mention chicken breast and spotted dick (tee,hee,hee!) x

  12. What's funny is that I've actually heard that the food in Britain used to be AWFUL but now it's SUPER good. Like Uber Good! :)

  13. Is "puff pastry" a euphemism? I had to read that sentence twice. ;)

  14. We have awesome food in Houston...and it's always barbecue season in South Texas.

  15. Thackeray ~ The old Belle-Doche, eh? Excellent

    mo ~ I'm with you! BBQ is better if it's peeing down. And thank you

    FFS ~ Also, when Norwich City win

    Sarah ~ Did you see the picture? Amazingly, that is Nigella before she got buxom

    BL ~ Ahem

    HairBows ~ Who? I need to do more homework

    JenJen ~ Glad to be of service. Dictionary, eh? Hmmmmm

    Christie ~ Rachel Ray? Any relation to Man?

    VodkaLogic ~ Commiserations. Don't worry, he'll be off soon

    RefGeek ~ We do! C'mon over

    Kate ~ Ooh, nasty; time to go vegetarian? Nah

    MiMi ~ Uber good! I like it

    Hunter ~ Certainly not (ahem)

    Jen ~ Always? I'm jealous :(

  16. This is a riot. If you did write a book, I'd buy it. Cheerio Sushi Surprise all the way.

  17. Not enough Indian take-away

  18. Girl WTFIHH ~ Really? Cool, I'll get publishing then
    Anon ~ No such thing as enough Indian takeaway
    Sarah ~ Way! Good eh?
    BBG ~ You're joking! That's buggered up my argument somewhat