British comfort food you must try

There is an old joke that is now politically incorrect:

“Heaven is where the police are British, the cooks are French, the mechanics German, the lovers Italian and it's all organised by the Swiss. Hell is where the chefs are British, the mechanics French, the lovers Swiss, the police German and it's all organised by the Italians”.

But the line about hell being where the British are chefs has some merit. British food has not always been something to write home about. After the Second World War, rations were in place for years. Food was limited in quantity and quality, and the flavour didn’t expand beyond salt and pepper. While the rest of the world was exploring the far reaches of the spice cabinet, Brits were playing it safe. The one exception may have been the love of Indian food, but even that had a British twist to it. For example, chicken tikka masala is not a real Indian dish but a British invention tamed to their palette.

Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Thankfully, times have changed. The British now have decent food. Seriously! There are some great dishes that you simply should not leave London without trying. Here are a few mug shots of the ones that you should try. A word to the wise: British food is comfort food. Don’t expect a lot of salad, healthy options, or light fare. This is stodgy, greasy and filling food that is easily washed down with beer. Having said that, London is a city where cooks are creative, and tailoring the typical British meal for the modern dietary restriction has become a bit of a welcome challenge. The list below of traditional and modern options may pleasantly surprise you.

Fish and Chips

Once sold wrapped up in newspapers and the batter discarded, this has become a traditional favourite. You can get cod but many restaurants opt for haddock as cod has become over-fished and contro- versial. But you are not limited as there are other fish such as rock, plaice or skate that are equally delicious. You’ll always get

22 FOCUS The Magazine January/February 2020

a big helping of chips and occasionally in restaurants you will get mushy peas as a side dish. Optional condiments include malt vinegar or brown sauce. Many pubs will put their local beer in the batter, giving the fish a lightness and golden fry.

Travel to Hackney to enjoy gluten-free and vegan fish and chips at Sutton & Sons. They take the blossom of the banana tree, which has a natural fish taste to it and soak it in a brine for softening. It is then dipped in a gluten-free batter and fried. The plant has a flakiness very similar to fish and it is just as delicious.

Rock and Sole Plaice 47 Endell Street Covent Garden WC2H 9AJ

Poppie’s Fish & Chips 6-8 Hanbury Street E1 6QR

Sutton & Sons 218 Graham Road E8 1BP

Sausage & Mash

Filling, delicious comfort food. The good thing is that restauranteurs take pride in their sausage, so you’ll be sure to get a link that has been given extra love and care. Tracing your sausage back to the pig is now a badge of honour, and many pubs and restaurants work with selected farms to provide the best quality welfare for the animal, resulting in delicious sausage. It comes with heaps of mash potatoes to fill you up and a douse of gravy for good measure. You’re probably getting hungry just thinking about it.

Old Shades Pub 37 Whitehall, London. SE1A 2BX near Trafalgar Square/Charing Cross

Porters 17 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden London, WC2E 8QH

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