Tuesday, April 19, 2005

What was that about British cuisine?

From The Times (and all the other papers):

FOR years Britain has been cast as the poor relation when it comes to food, but last night Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant The Fat Duck, in Bray, Berkshire, was crowned the best in the world.
Joe Warwick, the associate editor of Restaurant, said:..."The award is the culmination of what has been happening to cooking in Britain since the mid-1990s and makes it now the best place to eat, especially in London and just outside."

Britain has three other restaurants in the top ten alone.

But like the notion that we still have a football hooligan problem, the myth of the awfulness of British cuisine persists. The French and the Americans think we eat blood pudding and spotted dick for every meal.

But it's hard to overstate just how good food-obsessed we have become in the UK. Celebrity chefs rule the airwaves. Jamie Oliver’s attack on turkey twizzlers in schools has made him a national hero. Everything is organic, or 'Taste the Difference', or 'Finest'.

In fairness, the change has happened very quickly. Just 15 years ago, having a ‘sandwich’ in the UK meant a miserly slice of processed ham between two thin slices of soggy bread, with a scrape of Colman’s mustard if you were lucky. A "British Rail sandwich", if you like. Coronation chicken was the very pinnacle of sophistication.

These days it’s all foccacia with rocket and chorizo, or sun-dried tomato and olive rustic loaves with lemon-drizzled tiger prawns and artichoke hearts. Even in pubs. And trains!

Ironically, the restaurant now bearing the weighty title of “best in the world” sells meals so bizarre that one would surely yearn for blood pudding and spotted dick after the first course.

It’s a hyper ‘foodie’ experimental joint selling such delicacies as snail porridge, or green tea and lime mousse dipped in liquid nitrogen.

The menu is well worth a gawp: http://www.fatduck.co.uk/

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