Wednesday 9 April 2014

5 days of learning about England: the food

Welcome  back to this five day series about England.

Day 1: Introduction
Day 2: History resources

Today, I'm writing about food. My only qualifications are that I'm English and I like food.

Like most national food, English food depends on what is available. So over to some famous foods!

Fish and chips
Almost every town has a chippie and most chippies don't just sell fish and chips but add pies and sausages as well. Fish and chips tend to be one of the cheapest meals bought out. Many people only buy chips which, of course, reduces the price!

The fish is usually caught in the North Sea. Cod is the most common but coley and haddock are almost always sold too. Traditionally,the fish is deep fried in batter.

Can fish and chips be made at home? Yes, of course although I have to admit that I've never made proper fish and chips. I'm a bit scared of deep fat frying having seen a saucepan catch fire as a child. Probably a deep fat fryer is the way to go but then it might encourage us to have fish and chips far too often. Anyway, this is a link to a fish and chip recipe.

These are easy to make at home. This recipe is similar to the one that I use. Traditionally eaten with clotted cream, they are also yummy with butter and jam. They don't keep well so eat soon.

There is debate about whether they are pronounced with a long or short o. This is partly a regional issue. My contribution to the debate is that the n is followed by a silent e so the o should be long!

Christmas pudding
At Christmas, we eat a heavy fruit boiled pudding for dessert. This is my version of Christmas pud.

Jacket potatoes
These aren't classical English fare but something that is eaten often here and less often elsewhere. Jacket potatoes are so easy and make a great base to a meal with salad, cheese and any left over meat or fish. To cook, clean one largish potato per person and pierce the skin three or four times with a fork. Place in the oven at 180C and cook for about an hour until soft. The cooking time obviously depends on the size of the potato! These are ideal for cooking when the oven is on for some other reason.

Simnel cake
This is a traditional Easter cake. It is a fruit cake cooked with marzipan in the middle and topped with a layer of uncooked marzipan. Traditionally, the top has eleven balls of marzipan on top of the flat layer. These are said to represent the number of the apostles after Judas had left.
This is the recipe that I use:
8oz (225g) plain flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
6oz (180g) brown sugar
5oz (140g) margarine
3 eggs
2 tablespoonfuls milk
3/4 lb(340g) sultanas
3/4lb (340g)mixed dried fruit (can be substituted with other types of dried fruit to taste)
1lb (450g) marzipan
small amount apricot jam
Prepare an 8" cake tin. Line the base.
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the other ingredients up to and including the milk.
Mix well with a wooden spoon until well combined.
Add the fruit and mix.
Place half the mixture in the cake tin.
Divide the marzipan into thirds. Roll out one third to just less than the size of the cake tin. Place this marzipan on top of the first half of the mixture.

Place the remaining half of the mixture on top of the marzipan.
Cook at 150C (300F/gas mark 2) for two and half hours to three hours. Cover with foil after the first hour. When cooked a skewer placed in the upper part of the cake will come out clean.
Roll the second third of marzipan to a circle the size of the cake.
When the cake is cold, turn upside down so the top is flat. Cover with a thin layer of apricot jam to help the marzipan to stick to the cake. Place the circle of marzipan on top of the cake. 
Use the remaining marzipan to make eleven balls to decorate the top of the cake.


Everything else
In a multi-cultural society, many of us eat a mixture. Our menus will have traditional English, Italian, French and Indian food on a regular basis.

What is your favourite English food?

Some of my fellow Schoolhouse Crew members are also taking part in the 5 days blog hop, this week. Do visit these blogs
Ellen @ Grace Tells Another Story ~ Making Homeschooling Fun!
Marcy @ Ben and Me ~ Helping Children in Uganda
Wendy @ Simplicity Breeds Happiness -- International Meals
Melanie @ FinchNWren ~ Finchnwren's Fabulous Family Movies
Sarah  @ Delivering Grace ~  learning about England
Victoria @ Homemaking with Heart ~  Connecting with the Creator through Nature Study
Joanie @ Simple Living Mama ~ 5 Days of Charlotte Mason Preschool
Gwen @ Tolivers to Texas ~ A Happy, Peaceful Home
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses ~ Homeschooling 4 FREE resources
or click on the banner for even more topics.

April Blog Hop

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  1. Mmmm, Christmas pud. We always had ours with tons of custard. Happy memories. :)

    1. We have ours with a spicy sauce made with icing sugar, orange juice and spices.

  2. We love fish and chips too :) Firm fav' in New Zealand and an affordable meal too. Your recipe sounds nummy.

  3. I've always heard negative things about English food, but these recipes look wonderful! You're helping with a stereotype :)

    1. Good! The food really isn't too bad. Have a look at the BBC food website-there are some great English recipes there.

  4. Mmmm. I love fish and chips! Now I want some!