There’s a scene in ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’ where a squad of Israelite rebels, led by John Cleese & Co, are discussing ‘what have the Romans done for us?’ The debate centres around whether they should pursue a terrorist course of action, and everyone gets a bit stressed as they start to realise the Roman’s have actually done quite a lot….
‘…All right… all right… but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order… what have the Romans done for us?’
Now fast forward a few thousand years.
Here we are, in the glorious 21st century. For Rome, read Amercia. Now I haven’t spent too much time or effort considering the socio-economic influence of America on the planet. And I’m not going to start now. What I will do is consider the culinary influence of America.
And they have done some seriously important things for us. Fully Loaded Hot Dogs are a case in point.
I went to the butchers and they were slightly annoying.
So a month or so ago we set off shopping, but decided to explore the more rural parts, south of where we live, looking for somewhere different to acquire some bacon and eggs.
We ended up in deepest darkest Surrey (about 5 miles from home).
Here the locals speak in strange dialects, and wild pigs forage for truffles (this may or may not be true, the shop staff we spoke to didn’t have strange dialects, although that might have been because they weren’t local – they could have been bused in from Northern France – and I didn’t spot any pigs, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there, hiding their truffles).
So we are snowed in – a whole 2 inches of the white stuff – but in this part of the world that is more than enough to bring the whole road and rail network to a grinding halt.
And since ‘Black Tuesday’ (I’ll call it that although it could have been a Wednesday) two years ago when it took me, my wife and thousands of others over 8 hours to drive 13 miles home in the evening, few were prepared to go through that experience again. So most worked from home; the roads were quiet and all was good.
And gazing out of the window, I mean doing a detailed spreadsheet analysis, my thoughts turned, surprisingly, to food. For Big Weather you need Big Food, and it doesn’t come much bigger than Giant Yorkshire Puddings.
Over here, on this funny wind-swept island (which incidentally is close to half the size of California yet contains almost twice as many people) we know a thing or two about breakfast.
Now of course the British used to ‘Go to Work on an Egg’! but nowadays it’s more likely to be a bowl of muesli with maybe a bit of organic yoghurt. Perhaps one of those green smoothies (what’s in those?)
However there is still a hardcore of Englishmen and women who yearn for the good old days, when life was less complex, cholesterol hadn’t been invented yet and bacon still had an inch of fat and the rind on.
Yes this group still enjoys a good old-fashioned fry up. But its unpopular. Its full of fat. It’s bad.
So how do you get round this conundrum; on the one hand you want the salty greasiness to fuel your day, on the other you want the approval of your peers (or nutritionist).
About a year ago we decided to purchase a tablet. Not the Ecstasy or Viagra type. The shiny look-no-keyboard type. Now the smart money goes with an iPad. For everyone else there’s the Samsung. We (I) chose the latter. It works. Just. It’s spent most of the time shoved in the bookshelf (right next to the Kindle) gathering dust. If anybody remembers it’s there they get it out and then ask:
‘Where’s the charger’?….’Don’t know’.
And then it goes back on the bookshelf. Well anyway one day I found the charger, charged it up and looked for a recipe for barbeque sauce. I found a Martha Stewart version and got bizeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!