Thursday, November 22, 2012

On the mysteries of British cuisine

Terry Pratchett once wrote of the Discworld city of Ankh-Morpork (but actually meaning Britain) that waves of immigration and invaders come and go, but they all eventually become assimilated into society. All that's left of these axe-wielding mad-men, Pratchett writes, are some interesting restaurants.

And so it is in this country. The Gurkhas may be long gone from Fleet and their former Church Crookham base, but we're left with businesses with crossed kukris as their logo all over the place, and a town with an entire swathe of interesting restaurants. And the same can be said for any other town touched by immigration - for good or for bad - in this country. All that is left of the hordes of Polish plumbers that came with EU integration are packed Catholic churches and some excellent delis. And that's before everything goes hybrid.

Hybrid, I say. In which other country in the world can you walk into a certain (budget) supermarket and walk out with a trolley loaded sky high with the culinary BLASPHEMY that is the Chicken Tikka Lasagne? The French call us "Rostbifs", but they have NO idea of the full horror where products can come with meat from at least one named animal.

It was as I drove to work one morning that the full implicatons of British hybrid food hit me. There are - of course - "fusion" restaurants everywhere, a dying breed from the trend where it was fashionable to advertise your expertise in Indonesian-Burmese-Chinese-Fish'n'Chips, but this particular advertising sign nearly had me driving my Nissan Micra through a hedge.

It had just three words, and an arrow pointing to this HOUSE OF BLASPHEMY


All it needed were the words "...and deep-fried Mars Bars" and the cultural fusion would have been complete.

I later discover that Indian - and Thai - Tapas have been An Actual Thing for some time now, and that I ought to get out more. The outside world may seem somewhat less of a dreadful surprise.

No comments: