Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Why British Food Was So Bad For So Long

Pasta with mushrooms

Food Diary (February 20, 2012)
Breakfast: Rolled oats with pear, sunflower seeds and flax seeds
Lunch: Pasta with mushrooms
Dinner: Spinach and fried egg with toast
Baking/sweets:

Pasta with mushrooms was delicious, but you can't tell from the photo. It would have been more convincing if the photo matched the claim!

Today's Favourite Photo
Coconut Pancakes with Grilled Bananas and Salted Caramel Rum Sauce



Today’s Favourite Blog 
Source: NPR
A very interesting article explaining “Why British Food Was So Bad For So Long”.

According to Ivan Day, one of Britain's preeminent food historians, in the olden days the food was "incredibly sophisticated." "The upper-middle classes and the gentry and the aristocracy — they saw food as a way of impressing people".

It was World War I that contributed to the decline in reputation. Before the war there was a large skill base because so many people were employed as servants, including in the kitchen. When World War I came, a lot of these skilled servants and their masters went to war, and many never came back. As a result complex, time-consuming dishes were dropped off the menu. Furthermore cooks used to rely on imports but the war disrupted these shipments. Sugar and cream were both among the food stuffs being rationed.

World War I affected food for the upper-middle classes and the gentry and the aristocracy. Food for the rest of the population was affected by the Industrial Revolution a century earlier. During the revolution farmers left the fields for factories. As a result industrial foods replaced fresh ones in urban workers' diets. Regional specialties and culinary traditions, like artisanal cheese-making, largely vanished. 


But now things have turned around.

18 comments:

  1. Those pancakes are tempting!
    My aunt in England gave me a book on English cooking by a renowned English chef. I flipped through the pages of jellied eels, boiled liver and several other so called traditional English recipes and now, I have no idea where the book went ... really, I mean, it just walked away by itself one day and refused to be found *ahem*

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    1. I totally understand, its usually the best stuff that disappears. They either grow legs, people borrow without asking and intending to return etc. Its a mystery!

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  2. I was excited to read the answer when I saw the title. Hmm... I'm still not fully convinced that's the real reason?! Maybe it is... but it's been so long since WWI and the fact that a lot of country went through wars and so on, and it seems strange British in only known country that food is not so good.... isn't it? I'm not too sure...

    Oh I wish I can take a picture like the pancake photo. Very dynamic!

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    1. The industrial revolution affected food for the masses. The food culture for the masses changed at this point, but the middle/upper class still had good 'sophisticated' food. WWI affected food for the middle/upper class.

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  3. hmm very interesting post! i actually did a project on wartime food in Britain last semester, so I read up alot about wartime recipes and food and such, and some of the things they had to make do with really made me so grateful for all the food we have these days!

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    1. Lucky that it was only desk research and not actual tasting:)

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  4. Now it all makes sense:) Great article and I love the first food shot of the pasta with mushrooms

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  5. That is a gorgeous caramel syrup pour!

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    1. It certainly is. I could take a good spoonful, or two

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  6. I would love to have a plate of those pancakes. It is such a great photo. How interesting about World War I having such an effect on British food.

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  7. Now I want brunch. And I am not buying Britain's excuse either. All of Europe was in the same situation. Granted some imports took longer to get there after the war....but 67 years have passed since WW2 lol

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    1. Perhaps the British liked and get used to what they were eating, hence they were hesitant to change:)

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  8. I probably told you a million times already - but I just absolutely love your favorite pic photos! Absolutely LOVE them! You have such a great eye for picking out photographs!

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  9. I have already heard about the Industrial Relovution's role, but I think never about the servants' role in maintaining the high food quality. It's very logical. I love reading books about food history etc. (one of the most fascinating was a book about food "fears"), so I must check this author. Thank you!

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  10. Wow I wanna grab those pancakes out of my computer screen!

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