We’ve been importing food from other countries for so long, it’s hard to say any more what is British. Our supermarkets offer everything from tandooris to tacos and our high streets are awash with cappuccino and green tea, dim sum and sushi. It feels normal to us now, but take a trip to Rome or Nice, Lisbon or Athens and you’ll notice how non-indigenous food is in the UK.
Is the UK the home of international cuisine?
But wait. Look a little closer and you’ll see something going on. I’m sure you’ve heard the trick question: Where does pasta come from? China of course. What about potatoes? It’s not the Isle of Jersey. And it’s probably bested you don’t even mention Pizza. Several countries including Greece have a claim on this firm favourite. With all of these food immigrants, can any country truly say it favours its own flavours?
In the last couple of decades, a new wave of food origin ownership has sprung up. In the UK and Scandinavia, foraging wild food, mushrooms and cockles, is one way to go truly local. In the US and Australia, regional flavours and meats are hitting the barbecue in such numbers that there’s now an area in the US known as the “barbecue belt” crisscrossing Texas, Memphis, the Carolinas and Kansas City. Mississippi claims to be the home of the American BBQ. The Spanish explorers who followed Columbus brought the cooking technique with them and the first recorded barbacoa feast outside the Caribbean was cooked in present-day Tupelo, Mississippi, by the Chickasaw tribe. And they’re proud of it too.
Embracing all things deliciously foreign
But who cares where it came from as long as it tastes good? Visualize trying to make a good meal without rice or pasta, Cilantro or saffron. No chocolate or garlic. No tea or coffee for that matter. And to cook and eat great food you need to use the right tools. Imagine eating spaghetti with the original British spoon or trying to flip a steak without the right BBQ utensils.
So let’s get in the kitchen or out on the grill and embrace our international food obsession. And fingers crossed for a little Caribbean weather to go with our barbacoa feast.
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