Friday, 1 June 2012

Have You Heard The One About The Philippino, The Kurd And The Turk?

Food. I love food. Simple food. Tasty food. Reasonably priced food.

The old 1950's recipes and cook books were unexciting, but honest. So close after the war, the ingredients just were not around.

In the 1960's and 1970's it plugged along, getting more diverse. I saw my first fluorescent red Tandoori Chicken in Baker Street in 1977. It was like a plate of food which had been cooked on Mars. The taste was quite unlike anything else I had ever tasted before. The same went for Chinese food in the Shangri-La restaurant on the Brompton Road. My adventurous mother used to believe in making her children try a wide variety of tastes. It is something I will ever be thankful for, her vision and enthusiasm has given me a love for nearly all foods and a wish to try anything once.

It was the 1980's where I felt that food turned to style over content and restaurants offered a succession of things to entice peoples tastes to change. Or that was what they said. In reality they played with the British love affair with the pink tablecloths, matching knapkins and the belief that going out to eat was for a sense of occasion, the food being of secondary importance.

Nouvelle cuisine, Master Chef, Sous Vide, Heston's Food Science, Rick's Fish and Chips, Jamie and Gordon's cuisine with obscenities, Nigella's inuendo all no doubt have their good parts. I find it's not really for me, as I can find food with delicious taste, well cooked and authentic for a fraction of the price.

Take yesterday as an example in Newcastle. A Philippino Brunch, a Kurdish lunch, a Turkish tea and a Kashmiri dinner. If you know where to look, there is a wealth of different foods from all round the world. It could have been Egyptian kebab, Jordanian falafels, South Chinese congee, Jamaican curry or Malaysian sanbal. All are around.

Chinese food in England is generally disappointing. It's not Chinese and pays no lip service to the huge differences of Chinese regional cooking. Lemon chicken? They don't grow lemons in China. Most 'Indians' are not Indians. Most are Bangladeshi. Balti? Authentic? No - it was invented in Wolverhampton. Italian restaurants are also the same and do not recognise the huge variety of different foods from different provinces. There's an awful lot of pizza.

Wouldn't it be nice if we saw a re-surgence in English cooking? Not this Modern British political correct stuff we are always told about, but honest English food. Cooked well, steak and kidney puddings, queen of puddings can be delicious.

Until then, I'll be going back for more Pork Adobo.

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