Monday, 27 June 2016

The Food of Britain

I've lost my blogging mojo over the last week.  This is not a political blog so I'm not going to get into details of my thoughts of the various campaigns but in the Brexit debate there has been so little awareness of how immigration has enhanced our culture.

I've also seen no mention of it all by the blogs I follow.  It's like the elephant in the room.  On all our minds but too thorny an issue?  Well I can't help but talk about what's on my mind.

I don't pretend to be an expert but I would like to give a small, warm appreciation to the people who have come to our country and generously shared their food with us.  Food may be a small part of the whole equation but it's important to me and important in so many cultures.  Food nourishes the body and the soul.  Food is community, food is love.

My blog is influenced by the food of immigration.  It hasn't been a deliberate choice, I tend to reflect many of the foods popular with me and my friends and foods I enjoy, they just quite often are foods which were not a British invention.

Although I've been travelling in India, South East Asia and widely in Europe, the food people from all of these countries have brought to the UK has been fantastic, appreciated and been accepted into our countries culture.

In Britain we're embarrassed about our food quite a lot.  I don't think we should be but also I think we should celebrate the foods which have been brought here and then been adapted with local ingredients and local culture.  Other countries feel no shame about foods adapted from cultures coming to the country.  Does the Deep South think Jambalaya is inauthentic because of it's Spanish and African roots?  Does India feel shame that it's fondness for chillis only arrived with the Portuguese?  No.  We should learn as a country to be proud of what we have and proud of our cultures, all of our cultures.

Food is my love language.  Perhaps now is the time to share food with neighbours and to share with our fellow man.

After all, what is the Food of Britain?  Chicken Tikka Masala or Balti with their Indian, Pakastani and Bangladeshi inspiration?  Fish and chips with possible influence from Spanish and Italian immigrants?  The kebab, ok, so embarrassingly bad and a pale imitation of the gyros and similar dishes which inspired it from Greece and Turkey.  Look at a typical London shopping street nowadays; a good proportion of the up and coming fast food places are inspired by Asia; Wagamamas, Itsu, Wasabi...  Every high street in the UK has a curry house, a Chinese takeaway, a pizza place.

These are momentous times in the UK.  Frightening times and times of change.  Reaching out to our friends, our neighbours can do no harm.  Sharing food, breaking bread together enhances understanding and appreciation of each other.  I didn't want the result we had in the referendum but what I definitely don't want is for anyone who has come to the UK to feel less than welcome.  We want you to be here and we're really happy you're here.  Now is the time to make sure everyone feels like they have a seat at the dinner table.


  1. It's very interesting that you mention the food of various cultures coming to our shores. My grandmother was brought up in India during the last days of the Raj and the only remnant of this, certainly foodwise, was a curry recipe which she gave to my mother and my mother passed onto me. It's almost as if the English only like immigration when we do it ourselves. Preferably with force. Given the rousting of UKIP at the last General Election I was astonished at the referendum, let alone the fact that it's actually turned out the way it has. I hardly took any notice of it at first; it seemed like nonsense. Anyway... food blogs might be more desirable when people can no longer afford convenience foods and have to learn to cook from scratch, eh? Que sera sera.

    1. I spent the day today with some of the top food professionals from the food industry. One speaker was from the US, another from Denmark, a third spent half her time in Dubai. The audience was from all around the world as well. It was a wonderful example of how coming together can bring fantastic results. The room was energising and inspirational.

      Although this was looking at one aspect of the food industry, I think food whether it's eating or production does tend to bring together cultures and that should be celebrated.

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful blog. You are not alone in being dismayed by the referendum results. I agree that migrants/other cultures enhance Britain. Let's hope that the shameful bullying of other nationalities since the referendum stops and that people who voted BREXIT realise what they gave up.

    1. I find what has happened since and the rhetoric from some campaigners to be deeply worrying. We may be people from different countries but we are also lives touching one another and enriching each other by our interactions. One thing I read about when the crash came was how Sikh communities were helping feed the homeless and the people who were short on cash. What a fantastic, practical, warm and friendly thing.

      Would it be weird to propose a festival? This probably sounds a bit hippy but a gathering of people coming together, sharing food and culture? What if we did this in every town in the UK? It would be a lovely thing.


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