A Taste of England


By Glynn Burrows, owner of Norfolk Tours UK


BIG BLEND RADIO: On this episode, Glynn Burrows discusses the various British delicacies one can enjoy when visiting England, local farming, and the authentic experience and importance of frequenting local establishments, no matter where one lives or travels to. Watch here in the YouTube player or listen to the podcast on PodBean or SoundCloud.

What is the first thing to pop into your head when you read the title of this article?

I would bet that it is either fish & chips or roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Am I right?

Us Brits are well known for our fish & chips and, when I was a youngster, they were served in newspaper. The flavour was so much better than today and I reckon that the reaction between the grease, the vinegar, and the newspaper print had something to do with it. These days, they are served in pristine white paper or even in little polystyrene boxes! Terrible!

That has really brought up a very important point:
It isn’t as much about the food, but it is about where you eat it. Fish & chips in a posh restaurant probably tastes very similar to fish & chips on Wells-next-the-Sea Quayside, but it is the whole package that makes that meal so special. Eating a dressed crab on a plate with side-salad and nicely cut bread and butter has nothing, compared to picking out all the meat from inside the shell and sucking out the legs of the crab, alongside a thick slice of rough granary bread, spread thickly with real butter.

The other thing is, about what it triggers in the memory. Whenever I eat a tomato sandwich, I am taken back to being a five-year-old, sitting in the harvest field with my mum, dad and sister, because during the Summer, the only time we saw my dad was when we took our tea to the field to eat it with him. The harvest was a very important time for the farm and he worked from before we got up until way after we went to bed. Although I don’t eat sugar anymore, seeing an apple crumble always reminds me of my nanny, as she made amazing apple crumble, while my other nanny made gorgeous ginger cake. Just think about what tastes trigger in your own memory and it is amazing to think how that part of our brains work. Taste, smell, and sound are fantastic triggers for the memory and it would make a great study for anyone looking into dementia.

Anyway, where did I get to? Oh yes, fish & chips, and roast beef, and Yorkshire pudding! Yes, us Brits do enjoy a roast, but these days, it is just as likely to be during the week too. In the past, it was just a Sunday, but that was because of financial constraints as well as work pressures. Today, the cost of a chicken or a piece of pork is so cheap, we can have a roast every day of the week if we want. Beef and lamb are still quite expensive, so they are eaten less, but the taste of a roast rib of beef and all the trimmings really is a classic and must be tried when you visit England. We have accompaniments with our meats too, so it is Yorkshire pudding and horseradish sauce with beef, mint sauce with lamb, and apple sauce with pork. We also use English mustard with meat and that is to be treated with great caution. It may look like American mustard, but it will blow your head off if you put on more than a tiny dot!

All roasts are served with rich roast gravy which is made from the juices of the meat and we also have roast potatoes alongside any other vegetables in season. The Yorkshire pudding is made from a batter, similar to pancake batter and it is cooked in the oven, usually in little bun tins with a knob of lard or dripping. It is imperative to have the fat in the oven to get sizzling hot before you add the batter and then to quickly put the tin back in the oven to cook for about twenty minutes.

Other food which I recommend you to try has to include homemade cakes, scones and especially cheese scones, (see my wife Diane’s Cheese Scone recipe). The UK has lots of independent tea shops and they are THE places to go. Don’t use the chain coffee shops, as you will just be eating factory food. Use the little places, where the people behind the counter are the ones who do the baking. (That goes for everywhere, not just the UK.) Not only will you taste REAL food, but the people behind the counter will also know what goes into the food and how it is cooked. They may even give you the recipe! That is also an important point for any place you may visit – pubs, restaurants, shops, cafes, etc., etc. Always visit the independent ones because not only will you be supporting the local economy, you will also get a much better feel for the area you are in. A chain café, pub, hotel, etc., will be the same as the same chain establishment wherever you go, but independents are all different, depending on where they are.

Other food which I always search for is local dishes. In Norfolk we have Cromer crabs, which are only caught off the North Norfolk coast. We have samphire, which is a type of sea asparagus, gathered from the marshes, we have Brancaster Mussels, again, caught off the coast at Brancaster. Wherever you visit, ask what local dishes there are and try them if you can. Every area has their own delicacies and whenever I am on holiday, I search for them to get a taste of the area I am in. What’s the use of going to the North Norfolk coast and eating a McDonald’s every day?  

Glynn Burrows is the owner of Norfolk Tours in England. For help or advice about tracing your family history, or if you are thinking about taking a vacation to England visit www.Norfolk-Tours.co.uk      

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Glynn Burrows is the owner of Norfolk Tours in England.

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