I'd die for some steak and kidney pie

Food Fisticuffs: Britain vs Lebanon

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

While the sun definitely did set on the British Empire, I still feel I’m basking in its brightest rays every time I sit down to a meal.

The product of British parents, I was often exposed to a Sunday roast, a light salad plate, bangers n’ mash, a meat pie, Yorkshire pudding, a curry and many other types of savoury pub fare. While it was tough to find time to clog my arteries between cups of tea, one of the highlights of my childhood was the home-cooked fare my Mum is famous for. One thing is for certain: British food trumps Lebanese food any day.

Firstly, so many Canadian families still structure their meals essentially around an adaptation of the British diet. Your classic “meat and potatoes” meal is a mainstay in Canada and the United States. Cuts of beef, pork and fish are common in the UK, with potatoes or bread serving as the starch and usually buttressed with a vegetable or two. Historically, the majority of Canadians are of British descent " if I had a nickel for every family who still enjoyed a Sunday roast, I’d be very wealthy indeed.

Secondly, the large East Indian population in the UK means Indian food has become part of British cuisine. I’d argue some of the best curry you’ll find in the world would be in London or Bradford.

Traditionally, British food has been labeled as bland and flavourless. However, with the introduction of Indian food in the British diet, new and interesting flavours have been introduced to the standard lineup of pies and “chips” (french fries).

In addition to the foods themselves, the British have phenomenal condiments to flavour their “bland” eats. Sauces like Houses of Parliament (HP) Sauce, branston pickle, Worcestershire and malt vinegar add plenty of zing and bite to any British dish. Sometimes, I like chowing down on British fare purely for the sauces I can put on my food.

Finally, British food might be lacking in some of the spices and garlic that give Lebanese food character, but at least a diner isn’t bombarded with “shawarma breath.” When you’re not enjoying garlic yourself, catching it on someone’s breath is as offensive as a Jeff Foxworthy standup show.

If you want garlic, go to Jack Astor’s. If you want a good home-cooked meal, tip your cap to the Union Jack.

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