SLOW ME UP! English cooking

I was on assignment in England toward the end of the winter, and my genially dashing host, Aaron, whipped up a few of the dishes in A Salute to Cooking: Celebrity recipes in aid of the Chelsea Pensioners. As the Chelsea Flower Show is coming up, I pulled my copy of the book down off the shelf, where, sad to say, it has been gathering dust. (I am going to have to organize to cook with friends, who can get me over my shyness at the stove--and who will guarantee that I'm not eating Cherie Blair's Chocolate Cake by myself.)

I just dipped into the book for entertainment value, and came upon Field Marshal HRH The Duke of Kent's Fabulous Fish Stew, reproduced here as the recipe arrived, typed out on stationery from his office at St. James's Palace. You can see how this sends me into all types of swoons...Sir David Brewer, Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, sent in Crab Florentine; Nigella Lawson offers Watermelon, Feta and Black Olive Salad, ending her recipe somewhat incomprehensibly--though perhaps it provides a soupcon of balance--with "Hava Negila [sic]! The taste of Tel Aviv sunshine!"

Everyone I know is reading William Shawcross' official biography The Queen, and I'm still waiting for my copy; in the meantime, this cookbook satisfies my tiny Anglophile tickle. Just to be agreeable, I'll chime in: Hava Nagila!


Anonymous said...

English cooking? Boiled, boiled and more boiled? The fish stew sounds good though. Went to England and found a great French restaurant.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I am still attempting to perfectly duplicate the Cullen Skink soup I had at Loch Bay Seafood on the Isle of Skye. A truly divine concoction.
It's funny to me that British cooking still has a bad reputation, for I find such wonderful treats there. Of course I do steer clear of Haggis and fried Mars Bars.

This book sounds delightful and I'd especially like to read the introduction by HRH!

Pigtown-Design said...

Hey! I have had some excellent meals in the UK! Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell in London was excellent. An amazing late lunch on Loch Fyne in Scotland, eating fresh oysters and drinking champagne. Gorgeous fresh spring lamb in Wales at a private dinner.

Anonymous said...

Re: Hava Nagila!

My husband always says:
Have a Nagila.
Take two, they're small.

Blue said...

Nigella's watermelon salad is a summer staple in our house. Delicious on a hot, hot day - with a glass of very chilled white wine - followed by a nap on the porch. Do you know of Nigel Slater's cookery books? Well worth the read, even if you never make a thing.

Ann said...

Speaking of waiting for books to arrive - my copy of Slow Love arrived this morning, brought onto my porch by UPS, from Amazon.com. Can't wait to dive into it tonight. :-)

Jeanne said...

Your blog is lovely...I am so glad I discovered you here in the blogosphere. I have always been a fan. I am intrigued by this post as I recently moved to the London area and just received my tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show. Can't wait! I am still reserving my judgement on English cooking. I have been here four months now and am building up my cookbook collection of English chefs. I am about to tackle Elizabeth David....wish me luck:)


david terry said...

Two Points:

1. Unfortunately, I once spent a weekend at my French mother-in-law's house in Tours when I had the flu.

All weekend-long, I was brought things-to-eat that, as I was sincerely assured, were cooked "a l'Anglaise".

They, with all good intentions, kept saying this with no irony whatsoever. Bascially?...."in the English style" means boiled, maybe-some-salt, maybe boiled-twice....but, basically?....food fit for infants, convalescents, and old ladies with chronic gastro-intestinal disorders.

2. Anything by Elizabeth David is wonderful read. "Summer Cooking" is a generally useful thing for folks who don't know what they're doing, and " French Provincial Cooking" is awfully entertaining. Read all the introductions to the recipes, in which Elizabeth David tries to convince a lot of British People (circa 1958) that they won't die if they eat something "strange" or less-than-entirely-boiled-for-at-least-an-hour.


David Terry

Anonymous said...

English food is very good, we eat food that is in season and like to know how it gets to us, local is king here, I get sick of reading people who write things like the first person, stay home.