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Rule Brittania!

15/09/2010

Don’t you just love being British and everything that encompasses? Not many nations can match our love for tea with milk, cucumber sandwiches and the delightful oddities that make us one of the most misunderstood populations in the world.

We drink too much alcohol some say, we have no fashion sense say others and we eat all the wrong foods say many.

But we love, greasy fish and chips wrapped in paper, hot steaming pies, sausage and mash and our beloved Roast Dinner with gravy. We have the most incredible sweet tooth and our sweet counters are second to none, our bakerys offer delicious doughnuts, Eccle cakes and scones with lashings of cream and strawberry jam. Our beer is delicious and we’ve even started making our own wine which is being recognised out there in the wine world.

One good thing about the likes of us, is we’re always up for a go, “When in Rome” and all that, we’ve dabbled in snails, we’ve downed an ouzo or four in the name of ‘being one with the culture of your host country’ Moroccan, Indian, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, you name it we have a restaurant somewhere in ‘Ol Blighty’ that can serve it up.

But what about our own lesser known cuisine? The foods we eat in our families and woof down gustily, no spice, no fancy names, no stinky breath at the end. Good old plain sailing British food. People are sitting up and taking notice. They’re glancing over the pond to see what’s cooking on our back burners and they’re checking us up on the web, it’s time to showcase the Best of British.

From 18th September to 3rd October it is British Food Fortnight have a mosey on down and check out hundreds of ideas from growing your own to buying British and where to eat British.

Here is a copy of their list 14 things you can do in the fortnight.

  • When you are shopping make a special effort to seek out British food. Pause when you select your food from the supermarket aisle. Look at the label. Does it tell you where the food has come from? Does it provide a description of who produced it? And if it is imported is there a British equivalent in-season?
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  • Shop in local butchers, greengrocers, farm shops and markets that source locally and will be able to tell you a little about the person who produced the food you are purchasing. Remember, shopping for food warrants the same amount of time as choosing that perfect DVD for a night-in or the latest computer game.
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  • Seek out food in season – look for, for example, the English plum, marrow and squashes, which are in-season during British Food Fortnight.
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  • When next in the pub, team up a local beer with a local speciality for an authentic experience that reflects the character of the area where you live. Ask the pub staff to point you to local food on their menu. Enterprise Inns, Everards, Marston’s Pub Company, Mitchells & Butlers, Orchid Pub Group, Punch Taverns and Youngs all support the Fortnight so there will be an abundance of good pub grub.
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  • Think beyond the chicken nugget when planning a family meal out. If there is not a good children’s menu ask for children-sized portions of the main menu.
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  • Explore food from different regions of Britain as a fun way of experiencing our culture and heritage. Though there is still much bland, mass-produced food that belies little of the region it has come from, organisations like the National Trust and the Youth Hostel Association make a special point of serving quality regionally distinct produce from local producers.
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  • Ask the caterers who provide the food for your staff or school restaurant if they will consider serving distinctly-British produce. This could take the form of a special seasonal section on the menu. Don’t take no for an answer. More and more caterers are finding that if they form long-term relationships with suppliers and perhaps encourage small producers to form co-operatives it is possible to serve quality food in a mass catering environment.
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  • Encourage teachers in your children’s school to run food-related activities during the Fortnight. All schools have been invited to take part in the event and all have been provided with the definitive guide to teaching children about food within the national curriculum. Your school could win class sets of cooking equipment.
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  • Cook a British meal for friends – nothing beats the old favourites like Cottage Pie or Apple Crumble. Consider inviting friends round for a British Food Fortnight feast.
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  • Planning a family outing? See our What’s Happening pages to find out what is going on during British Food Fortnight. Visit a National Trust property – lots organise food events: stay in a Youth Hostel with a special British menu: or a bed and breakfast that uses locally sourced ingredients; and shop in your local Country Market.
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  • Pick your own. What is better or healthier than being able to enjoy fresh fruit selected and picked by yourself. See here for a list of fruit farms near you or rummage in the hedgerows for blackberries.
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  • Grow your own. Eating food you have grown yourself – even if it is just a lettuce! – is immensely satisfying. Potatoes, herbs and carrots are easy to grow and you do not need much space to do so.
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  • Celebrate the Harvest. British Food Fortnight takes place at the time of Harvest Festival. You do not need to be a regular church-goer, or have a particular faith, to take part in the celebration. Contact your local Church to find out what they are organising.
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  • Last, don’t forget the carrot! Britain has wonderful speciality cheeses and meats and delicious condiments but enormous pleasure can also be gained simply enjoying fresh, in-season vegetables.
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