4 Queen-tissentially British foods to enjoy when celebrating Her Majesty’s 90th Birthday
A few years ago, the Queen’s former royal chef Darren McGrady opened up to the press and offered Britain a rare glimpse into her Majesty’s diet – which included traditional and simple items such as toast and marmalade, cucumber sandwiches, honey and cream sponge and the usual afternoon tea: all washed down with Earl Grey, of course.
With the Nation readying to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday this weekend, Gourmet Society have been thinking about more British staples for the nation to enjoy – whether you’re attending a street party, hosting your own celebration, or you’re going all out and cooking a feast fit for the UK’s longest reigning monarch. We’ll warn you, though, there’s not a cucumber sandwich in sight!
Fish and Chips, best enjoyed beside the sea
Fish and chips is perhaps one of the most traditionally British meals – a cultural and culinary symbol of Britain. The first recorded combined fish and chip shop opened in London in 1860 and it’s been loved in Britain ever since.
The Oxford English Dictionary notes that the earliest usage of “chips” in the sense that we know them today was in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities published in 1859, and before this Oliver Twist mentioned a “fried fish warehouse” in 1838. It wasn’t until 1860 though that Joseph Malin had the idea of placing them together, hereby creating a classic that will forever be iconic to British culture.
Traditional roast dinner, served in a country pub
Second only to fish and chips in the hearts and on the tables of the British is the traditional roast dinner – generally consisting of roasted meat, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, vegetables and a large smothering of gravy.
The traditional roast has an origin in Christian heritage, when it was common to enjoy a large meal following a church service – often leaving a cut of meat in the oven before going to church on a Sunday morning and then coming home to enjoy it at lunch time.
Takes on the traditional roast dinner are now a feature on thousands and thousands of restaurant menus up and down the country, and for the British, there often is nothing better than sitting down with the whole family on a Sunday afternoon and enjoying this dish before a lazy night in front of the television.
Strawberries and Cream, whilst watching the tennis
A dessert loved by the British, eaten traditionally during the summer when enjoying Wimbledon and perhaps enjoying a pitcher or two of Pimms.
The dish of strawberries and cream has been credited to a nameless chef in Henry VIII’s court who first mixed strawberries, considered a “royal fruit” only to be enjoyed by the upper classes, with the “peasant food” cream to create the dish we all know and love today.
Whether you simply place them in a bowl and pour over a hearty helping of cream, or you enjoy these staples as part of a cake, a meringue, a tart, or even a smoothie – it wouldn’t be the Queen’s birthday without at least a small portion of strawberries and cream.
All washed down with? A cup of tea of course.
It wouldn’t be a list of British food without mentioning a cup of tea. The beverage has earned it’s place on our tables and as a side to many a meal. A strong cup of tea is enjoyed by the British morning, evening and night; it has even been estimated that tea accounts for a staggering 40% of the daily fluid intake for the British public, so there’s a good chance that you may have one by your side as you read this, or that the kettle may have just boiled…
We’ve been enjoying a good cup of tea for over 350 years, despite its Chinese origins. Tea in the UK started out as a medicinal drink – something that we can understand at Gourmet Society – but by the mid-18th century these health benefits were debated and many doctors came forward to call tea a “risk to the nation” for a short period of time. Eventually, though, the popularity of tea won out over the scaremongering and tea houses began to open as an alternative to pubs.
Since those first tea houses opened in 1830, tea has grown in popularity and now, for many, a cup of tea marks the start and end to every single day.
If you are celebrating the Queen’s birthday with any of these foods, or would like to add some more to this list, please get in touch with us on @GourmetSociety. We’d love to hear about it!