Inedible Britain

To eat? Or not to eat?

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I’m told that 20 years ago London was a very different place.  A good meal was hard to find as the city was far less cosmopolitan and lacked international diversity.  The dismal British dining offerings were often as depressing as mushy peas.

Today London is a true Foodie destination, compete with international gourmet meals prepared by renowned chefs in refined settings.

However, a bit of the musty old Britain still lingers beneath the glossy surface.  I’ve encountered many strange menu listings over the past several years, but I have mostly been able to avoid the menu minefield….

That is, until a recent night out.

We attended a party that began at 7:30 pm.  Our assumption was that dinner would be served.  Not so.  Champagne greeted us, and I’m told that one single tray of small bites circulated among the 60 or so guests.  There was nothing else to eat.

Americans are never ones to skimp on meals.  We are from the land of the Big Gulp, the triple decker burger, the Super Sized everything.  Hence, we expect to be fed well at parties.  My more experienced friends giggled at my misconception:  “Let me guess, there was champagne but nothing else“….”Was it a British party?  Well then, of course there was no food“…

We were experiencing classic British austerity.  Perhaps those stiff upper lips remain closed because no food ever tempts to open them!

At about 10pm, we realized we were starving and ventured to the nearest restaurant that was attached to the venue.

Here was what we found:

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Wild Nettle?  Ox Tongue? Cow’s Curd?  Mangalitza Leg?  Salsify?  

Nettle makes me think of prickly weeds growing rampant in a field.  Tongue and Curd turn my stomach.  What the heck is a Mangalitza and why would I want its leg? I now know it is a Hungarian pig, but it still sounds more to me like the name of a Portuguese orphan girl.  I think “salsify” sounds like a verb and would guess it meant to macerate something to a pulpy mush.  In fact, it is a  European plant having grasslike leaves, purple flower heads, and an edible taproot.  Knowing what it is doesn’t make it sound any more appetizing.

Nothing here to excite the palate.  In fact, just the opposite.  Desperate for other choices, we asked for the Bar Menu:

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Pig’s Ears? Ogleshield Churros?  Crackling?  Grilled Lardy Cake?

I don’t know about you, but I equate pig’s ears with dog treats.  And honestly, what in the world is an Ogleshield churro?  I expect some kind of sugary Spanish fried dough dipped in chocolate when I see churro in any context.  Crackling….I am speechless.  And don’t get me started on Grilled Lardy Cake.  I am envisioning a cake made a grilled fat.  It sounds like something that literally adds cellulite to your thighs just by muttering the words aloud.

And so despite the many improvements to cuisine in Britain, some stalwart posts remain where the distinctive and disgusting are still on order.

Bon Appetit!

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