Bangers and mash, bubble and squeak

Many people have a preconceived view of British food. It’s often a negative one. I frequently have to listen to comments like: ”British food is bland”. ”British food is boring”. ”British food is tastless”. ”British food is over-cooked”. I completely disagree. Those who ridicule it probably haven’t been eating it. Not lately anyways.

To taste for yourself, you just have to visit a pub. Please don’t go to the kind that serves prefab food. You can spot one of those just by looking at the menu – it’ll have photos on it. Those serve frozen foods that are simply heated up on the premises, perhaps thrown into a deep-frier for that added crispy feel. You may even hear a microwave ping in the kitchen. What I’m talking about are pubs that pride themselves in cooking great simple food made out of fresh, possibly local, ingredients.  And there are a lot of those around these days. Gastropubs. Besides the food, they have often invested in a tap beer selection beyond the usual Lager Boy choices.

We have found many such gems for pubs in and around London, serving proper British grub. One of them, the Horseshoe in Hampstead, is a wonderful spot for a long Sunday lunch with friends. We arrived there late one Sunday afternoon without a booking. The place was packed. There was the usual hip weekend crowd, including many prams and a few fairly well-behaved dogs. My husband queued at the bar for a pint of Camden Town Brewery ale and a glass of crisp white. You can guess which one I drank. They had fully opened the huge front windows onto the street, so we were more than happy to position ourselves there. Soaking up the afternoon’s last  warm rays of sun. We enjoyed people-watching with our drinks before getting table some fifteen minutes later.

The menu was impressive. Unpretentious, yet delicious food. There were St Austell Bay mussels, roast Cornish cod and all the meat originating from a Suffolk butcher who uses local farms.  Chips, of course. The half and whole chickens seemed popular. We opted for mains and puddings. I wish we could have eaten some of the yummy starters, too.

So, before you voice your negative opinions about British foods, make sure you have a recent experience. I look forward to finding yet another charming pub with tasty British food and drink this weekend. Wish I liked beer.

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