Thursday, October 18, 2012

Foodie Finds: Toad-in-the-Hole {And Other Novelties}

 This being my second posting on the topic, I feel ought to explain my fascination with food. I realize that I am in no way unique in my love, but nonetheless 'there is no love sincerer than the love of food' {George Bernard Shaw}. I think the unifying effect of food is fantastic- it is where traditions are made and cultures are experienced. That said, it should come as no surprise that the creation and consumption of tasty vittles is an international obsession in which I heartily partake. In fact, there was a time where I considered dedicating my entire life {in addition to many Pinterest boards and bookshelves} to learning how to sauté, flambé, and generally cuisiner {using the correct pronunciation, this continues the rhyming scheme and means 'to cook'}. No longer my sole focus, I would still say that for me, to eat is to live. This brings me round to my main point, in my adventures abroad, eating has become one of my primary hobbies. Especially eating regionally unique foods. I will and have walked miles to try something interesting. Happily, this week required no such effort, as British specialties were practically given to me on a silver platter! That is to say, the refectory {cafeteria} chose to celebrate 'British Food Fortnight,' a glorified meat-and-potatoes week, or so I thought. Yes, they served three variations of Shepherds pie, but, no, it was not all bland and uninteresting. Exhibit A: Toad-in-the-hole. A piece of meat, often sausage, in a crust of yorkshire pudding. Evidently, it surfaced twice a year on the menu of an upper-crust dining society, the Thursday's Club call'd the Royal Philosophersbefore falling from grace. Now a working man's dish, it is affectionately known as 'toad-in-the-hole,' the hole being the stomach and the toad being something to fill it. And filling it was, though the refectory's version was vegetarian, it was still a lunch to ruin my dinner. A little thyme, simple batter {the pudding bit}, and roasty veg, lovely! Exhibit B: the Custard Tart. The English custard tart has long been a local favorite, gracing the tables of countless Royal feasts,  but according to the internet, it pales in comparison to its cousin, the Portuguese custard tart. Thus, this lightly nutmeged tart has gained a reputation more for its political statements than its popularity. I must admit, I think I may have enjoyed today's tart as much on someone's face as in my mouth. Not that it wasn't delicious, just not enough to warrant a cult following like the 'pie-to-the-face' practice. Finding its way into avant-garde theatre, conferencesnewsrooms, and comedies, it is much beloved in British society, if not for reasons completely apart from its culinary value. Really, this is one lovely thing about British food, they don't take it too seriously. Here, there is space for play and gourmet. More to follow.


1 comment:

  1. You are making me hungry! I'm enjoying finding out a bit about the British culinary history:-)