We did celebrate the Harvest/autumnal equinox in time-honoured fashion with a couple of cans of cider, though.
The thing about British food, like British people really, is that it is a bit of a mongrel. Waves of invasion and immigration and colonisation have added dishes, techniques and ingredients to the menu that were never native to the UK. And this is a Good Thing, since otherwise we'd just be eating onions and broad beans. Even the rabbit was introduced. What really makes British food British is the fact that people are cooking British ingredients in Britain. It's the terroir, don't you know.
Quiche Lorraine. If you call it kweech it makes it British.
So I decided that to really commemorate British Food Fortnight I was going to draw your attention to a very British national treasure of the food scene: Simon Hopkinson. Now, if you aren't into food (why are you reading this blog?!) or you aren't from these parts, you probably haven't heard of this guy. But he gets name-checked by Delia Smith, Rowley Leigh, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Nigel Slater - pretty much anybody in England who likes proper, unpretentious food with no shortage of flavour. In 2005 a book of his from the 1980s was voted "most useful cookbook of all time" by a panel of chefs, restaurateurs and food writers. This year, he made his first TV series, The Good Cook.
You can tell it was a good series from Paul's response. He is not the devotee of food shows that I am, so to grab his attention it has to be a bit special. He kept declaring that every university student in the land should watch this series, that there was no excuse to eat rubbish when Hopkinson was showing so very clearly how to cook delicious, simple things from scratch. He gets quite emotional at the thought of young people living off chicken nuggets and Iceland ready meals. He also kept demanding that I add the dishes to our menu, and no one can say I am not an obedient woman. Well they could really, but on this I agreed with my lord & master and let him think it was his idea.
Baked Pappardelle with Pancetta and Porcini. Totally British
Fried ham and cheese sandwich - like their namesake the 4th Earl of Sandwich, English to the core! And not at all a croque monsieur.
Apparently I am deficient in my wifely duties, having never made a lemon drizzle cake before. This isn't from the Good Cook series, but it is a Hopkinson recipe. And quite sublime too.
The Hopkinson recipe was for a rhubarb crumble, but I had apples. It was very nice, but I really do prefer my normal crumble with oats and nuts and whatnot added.
Grilled aubergines with olive oil, garlic, parsley and feta cheese. No doubt stolen from the Greeks at the same time as the Elgin marbles and they are not getting this back either.
As Jay Rayner wrote recently, "if you really want to do justice to the British larder, you'd better be sodden with French technique". Excellent produce, cooked with a bit of care and centuries of knowledge picked up from all over. That's really what British food is about.