Monday, April 23, 2007

Fish & Quips: English Food is Not a Joke

I had planned to observe St. George’s Day by writing about clotted cream and tea, the two most perfect foods on earth, but I see from Sam’s exhaustive roundup that this subject has been covered folks who know much more than I. Instead I will simply remind you that English food is not a joke because the English air is the perfect medium for making the world’s greatest cheeses, breads, preserves, pickles, and beers and ales. Oh, I wish I had some right now.

And then there is this:

If you were to stand on a hill during any Sunday afternoon in winter and listen carefully you would hear a low, rustling, crunching sound. It is the entire English nation, eating celery.

--Adrian Bailey, quoting his father in The Cooking of the British Isles

Happy St. George’s Day, and be kind to dragons.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

My English mother, a WWII warbride, was the youngest of eight children. She was especially devoted to my Uncle Dick, her second oldest brother, who was instrumental in pursuading the family that she ought to be allowed to stay in school, instead of going to work, when she won a scholarship to grammar school.
And she adored his wife, my Auntie Phoebe,who she believed to be the most elegant woman in the world. One of Auntie P.'s mysteriously feats of elegance was eating celery in absolute silence. Eventually, my mother got up the nerve to ask her how she did it. AP told her she always took a bite of bread first, to muffle her less crunching Englishwoman to contribute to the overall rustling.

10:27 PM  
Blogger the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...


Oh my GAWD. Never have I heard of anyone eating celery silently, and I would never have guessed there might be a need to do so. I have, on the other hand, read about etiquette books advising women to eat invisibly; for instance, instead of biting into bread and leaving telltale toothmarks, an elegant lady is to break off each piece of bread before putting it in her mouth. Did your Auntie Phoebe use this technique for the bread with which she muffled her celery?

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More or less the opposite of slurping one's bowl of noodles to express enjoyment, eh? The idea that a lady should leave no toothmark behind is new to me. Sort of like the raciness of lipstick stains on a cup, which is (are?) actually kind of cool, in a forties, noirish way.

11:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ack- didn't mean to be anonymous. Tis I.

11:34 PM  
Blogger the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...


There used to be a place in midtown, in the Lipstick Building, called the Lipstick Cafe. It was right near the blood center, and I liked to go there to fortify myself after donations, but I could not abide the simulated lipstick stains printed on the glasses. Yuck!

10:09 AM  

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