Wednesday, August 24, 2005

the backpacker's guide to British cuisine

A trip to England is never going to provide much culinary inspiration, unless you have hundreds of pounds to eat at one of Gordon Ramsey's restaurants or some other posh joint. But, if you are backpacking and more appreciative of calories than taste, you might just do all right. Much of my trip was spent consuming this, the English breakfast:

We had it at every B&B we stayed (along with toast and a pot of tea, of course). I don't think I've ever eaten so many eggs and so much meat in a week--thank goodness for the mornings we were camping and could just eat nuts and power bars. While I was thoroughly sick of English breakfast by the end of the week, the huge meals did much to carry us through our long days of walking. I've never considered "hearty" a good recommendation for food, but this week it was just what I was looking for. While English food is not particularly interesting or subtle, it is reliable and filling. It was quite a lovely thing being able to walk into a pub each afternoon and eat a big plate of meat and potatoes before finishing the day. I think, though, that I will go on an all-veg diet for at least a week.

While the Brits don't do food so well, they are masters of sweets. And every hiking trip is made better by chocolate, cookies, and candy--and of these we had plenty. I can't write about sweets, England, and hiking without mentioning the Kendal Mint Cake. It's a strange and wonderful bar of hard, minty, sugar. The texture is at once creamy and grainy and the confection provides nothing but carbs. The mint cakes were taken to Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and you can't get a better recommendation than that. I don't particularly like peppermint candy, but this I love.

Terra enjoying her mint cake


Blogger Sarah said...

What, no beans on toast with your meaty breakfast?

I like the British idea of having a tomato in the morning, but I wish they didn't have to fry it!
On a trip a few years ago, a take-away restaurant in a small Scottish town offered a vegetarian breakfast that excited me until I saw them pull one dish after another out of a big vat of oil where they were floating until an unsuspecting artery came along; in addition to a fried egg and fried tomato, they gave me fried scones!

I've never seen a mint cake--sounds good, actually--but my favorite British candy bar is "Flake." It's delightful (and more fun to bite into than to actually eat).

Have you had an "ploughman's lunches" in a pub, perchance? Any meal that is centered around a big hunk of cheese and a big hunk of bread is a good thing.

9:18 AM  
Blogger Bev and Ollie "O" said...


I found your blog by accident when I was googling "kendal mint cake" I just made some.

I just wanted to comment on what Sarah said. I agree that a fried breakfast is too much fat and oil, but actually the breakfast is different from region to region.
For me a fried breakfast would NEVER have baked beans! Also The only think fried is the egg as I tend to grill everything else.

For me a fry up is;

* egg - fried
* sausages - grilled
* bacon - lean, grilled, unsmoked
* mushrooms - boiled (they are nice that way, the little button ones for preference)
* toast with butter - somepeople have fried bread, but yuk, way too much grease!

ps your blog is great but I must say the British Food is interesting, unless people really believe we live on fry ups and beans on toast, and to say we don't do food well. Well that's a complete misconception, like some stupid brits who think Americans are all fat and live on hamburgars etc, which is obviously not true! haha!

6:53 AM  

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