Food Favorites When You’re British

heinz_baked_beans_thekitchnI grew up on a fairly constant diet of Heinz baked beans. Some days we had plain baked beans on soggy toast. Other times we had baked beans topped with leftover grated cheddar cheese.

For a special treat, Mother produced her only specialty: baked beans on buttered toast topped with a poached egg, smothered with a cheese sauce and crowned with a thick slice of tomato. The entire thing was assembled on a saucer and broiled until the sauce was bubbling and the tomato was burnt.

I loved the way the runny yolk seeped onto and into and all around the baked beans and how you had to be quick about sopping  up the entire mess before it overflowed the sides of the saucer and dripped onto the kitchen table. I remember how colorful it was and how hot it was and how careful you had to be not to scorch your tongue on the tomato.

Other culinary delights of my childhood include Toad in the Hole (pork sausages baked in curdled custard topped with ketchup) and Bubble ‘n Squeak (lumpy mashed potatoes and leftover cabbage cooked in bacon grease until the cabbage bubbled and squeaked in the frying pan) and Spotted Dick (steamed pudding with “spots” of raisins with treacle syrup) served once a week in every boarding school alternating with tadpole eggs (tapioca).

I mention these things because people tend to make fun of British cooking, ignoring the fact we have made huge gastronomic strides. Mediterranean countries eat many vegetables and we do too. We English have three vegetables: two of them are Brussels sprouts.

“They” say France is a country that has 300 kinds of cheese but only one religion. England has 300 religions but only one cheese. This isn’t true at all. We have Stilton and Cheddar.

And now, we have Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal and The Naked Chef, so it looks as if the tables are turning.

We just have to pray that we don’t run out of baked beans.