The UK is a funny old stick, don’t you think? Some of us are fiercely proud of our history and national heritage. Others are apologetic or just plan apathetic.

In my experience, one of the most defining factors of a culture, is its food. English food is a hotly debated subject. Again, there is much to be proud of. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a great steak and kidney pudding, no Sir! And once upon a time it would have contained rich oysters to boot.

I have a pet theory that English food has suffered constant influxes of outside influence from on-high, historically. Food trends came from courtly practice and filtered downwards. Certainly eating-out was not something the unlanded peasantry could ever do, until today. And some courtly ideas were.. well, stupid. A great deal was to do with using the most expensive, most colourful, most showboating ingredients and recipes. The more ostentatious the better, and bugger the flavour. Even today, chicken breast is more costly than the brown meat, and a “prime” cut. WHY? It has half the flavour and more likely a dry texture too if it hadn’t been pumped with water. Oh but silly me, it has no bones. So much better for not reminding us that we are eating a creature and are responsible for not only its death, but how it lived.

The true, enduring British classics are genuinely great. “Fish and chips!” someone shouted at me in the streets of Jerusalem, on learning I was from the UK. And likewise the French, whose charcuterie is not matched often over here, call us “Bif-Steak”

I tell you what, proper fish and chips is hard to beat. The trouble is finding one! I suspect that unlike us, our continental brethren have maintained a connection with their food from the ground-up, literally. Even in the USA, there are parts in The South where BBQing is a true art-from, to a level that is unseen elsewhere. We just burn sausages!

Some people take up the cry of “buy local” or “get some chickens and an allotment” or to railing in-vain against supermarket culture. This latter has been especially influential for The Brits, ever since WW2 rationing hit our nation so very hard. The knowledge and desire to change this are still firmly within the confines of The City, and The Middle Class however.

Even now, while food plays such a large part in the media, actually making decent grub, is posh.

Most people who actually work on the land or with food that is produced en-masse, have no interest in engaging with the arguments for or against the emerging alternatives. They are led by short-term economics alone, and I don’t really blame them. Good food is expensive at the moment. And that is absolutely a problem, because the crap food that’s out there MUST be costing us more, actually. It defies the laws of physics otherwise. I don’t need to hope that this will change, because there’s no choice.

What I do see though, is a mixed message from the Hugh Fernleys and Jamie Olivers of this world. Large producers are lambasted for including Mechanically Reclaimed Meat, or using heart in their “steak” pies. Oh how disgusting!

Yet an expensive restaurant in London serving bone-marrow on toast gets the thumbs up? A classic French Civet sauce for duck when done the long way, requires crushing the bones of the duck carcass to extract rich juices, marrow and other flavourful bits. It always has done. Come, now, we’ve always known that using the whole animal is the only economically viable way to survive as a business. Or as a family.

Nose to tail eating is essential. There’s nothing horrid about non-prime cuts. What’s horrible is the industrial processes that even the living animals are subjected to, contrary to their health, and ours. Same goes for the levels of preservatives, colouring, packaging, transport, advertising of huge brands, etc. All of which we pay for.

So actually, getting to grips with the idea that a bit of liver ISN’T horrid, is what means the consumer bypasses all of that to their own financial benefit and health. And so we return to charcuterie, that missing link in British Food.

Curing, is a huge part of this struggling movement. And to survive, it will need to jump out of the coffee-table book, out of the obsessed hobbyist’s garden shed, and into our small butchers, non-premium suppliers and everyday pubs.

The whole POINT of curing, is that it makes economic sense. It prevents waste, extends shelf-life, is high in flavour (or should be!) so that you can use less to make more money, and is easy to do. Far easier than making a good pate, actually.

Besides, notwithstanding genuine British dishes like Chicken Tikka Marsala, what food really defines us as a nation, if not bacon, ham and sausages? We should be the best in The World at this stuff, and we should purchase accordingly, say I.



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