Wednesday, 23 April 2008

English Half English

“My breakfast was half English
and so am I you know
I had a plate of Marmite soldiers
washed down with a cappuccino
And I'll have a veggie curry about once a week
The next day I fry it up as "Bubble 'N' Squeak'
'Cause my appetite's half English
and I'm half English too”


Happy St George's Day everybody. I'm sure you are all wearing your red roses in your lapels today and can't wait to get out of work to get home and celebrate our National Day, probably with a few English ales, a traditional English meal followed by a rousing edition of Jerusalem. Methinks that this is not the case, for like many other traditions, us Brits seem to be forgetting what they are all about.

I still can't work out why we don't put more emphasis on St George's Day in England. We all don large pixie hats and do the jig to fiddle-based tunes whilst getting sloshed on the black stuff on St Patrick's Day. I've been there, despite not having an ounce of Irish in me. I just like to take advantage of the stout offers that are usually on in the local and I have been prone to the odd jig.

So why don't we bother too much on St George's Day? Is it because we don't have a huge multi-corporate stout company advertising it in every pub? Or is it because we are apparently losing our identity and a little pride? Or are we simply embarrassed to fly the white ensign in fear that it might look like an advert for the British Nationalist Party?

One of our national broadsheet writers condemned St George's Day last year, saying that it is too much of a flag waving celebration of Anglo Saxon survival and that it should embrace our modern multi-cultural society. I'm sorry, but I have to disagree; as much as I love the fact that we have embraced cultures into our country and subsequently improved and expanded our culinary desires; and as much as I deplore the far right element to some our flag bearers. I do think that a National Day should be just that; a day to celebrate our country and instil some pride back into it. For us to smile at each other, wish each other all the best and generally be happy about where we are from. I have to ask - what on earth is wrong with that?

I love people from all over the world and I take everybody as they come no matter what country they come from. But I am proud to be English and I have no problems telling people that. So celebrate our one and only National Day with pride, crack open a few real English ales or ciders and perhaps try my version of an English classic meal. As the one and only Billy Bragg once lamented, “Oh my country, Oh my country, Oh my country, What a beautiful country you are.” Happy St George's Day everybody.

Lamb's Liver and Bacon with Ale, Sage and Onion Gravy

Feeds 4

8 slices of good quality back bacon
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 large onion, peeled, halved and sliced
A handful of sage leaves, roughly torn
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
300g lamb's liver, cut into strips
3 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp English mustard powder
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
Half bottle of good English Ale, I used Jarrow Brewery Rivet catcher
100ml stock
1 tbsp English mustard
Salt and pepper

1 - In a large non-stick frying pan, heat up the oil. Cook the bacon for 2-3 minutes each side until crisp and golden. Put aside on kitchen paper.
2 - In the same pan, add the onions and sage and cook for 5-10 minutes until soft and golden. Add more oil if required. Put aside on kitchen paper.
3 - Mix the flour, mustard powder and a little seasoning together then drop in the liver. Ensure it is well coated.
4 - Heat up the oil in the pan and then add the liver. Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden all over. Return the onions to the pan and pour in the ale and stock. Bring quickly to the boil then simmer for a further 2-3 minutes. Stir in the English mustard and taste for seasoning.
5 - Serve with the slices of crisp bacon with buttery mashed potatoes and greens such as kale or broccoli.

13 comments:

Magic Cochin said...

Good sentiments for St George's Day - and a good recipe too. (Although I'd choose a bottle of good East Anglian Ale from Woodfords or Adnams or our local Nethergate breweries!)

Happy St George's Day!!!
Celia

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Good liver rocks. I don't have it often enough. Thanks for the reminder!

Pixie said...

I had to ask my DH about st. george's day....even after living here for four years. I agree it should be celebrated!

And YES! for another liver post!

Wendy said...

Happy St Georges Day to you, David. Hope you're enjoying it. :)

We don't celebrate St Andrews Day up here either. Not a lack of pride or identity though. It's just not our tradition to do so. Mind you, we do have Burns day which is in many ways a celebration of being Scottish...

Saw a suggestion on one of The Guardian CiF boards that perhaps a Shakespeare day would rally more English people.

David Hall said...

Celia - I love Adnams ales so will join you there!

FOS - and good for you too!

Pixie - good to see that you Americans agree that we should be shouting our national days from the rooftops too!

Wendy - You Scots know how to have a party mind! Shakespeare Day?! Errm, no thanks :o)

Cynthia said...

Yep! In celebrating ourselves we are celebrating also our multi-culturalism.

Antonia said...

Quite agree - we should definitely celebrate it and be proud! Glad to see you cooked a truly English dish to mark to occasion.

Jan said...

I agree, there should be more done to promote St. George's Day, after all when have the English ever balked at a celebration.

Did you know there are even moves afoot in the Church of England to replace St. George, whom they consider too warlike, with St Alban. Whoever he is when he's at home.

Although I have lived in the US for several years, I still think I won the lottery of life being born English.

Rosie said...

Great David to view your post of St. George’s Day, we need to celebrate it more I agree!! I don't know why liver has gone out of fashion my hubby just adores liver and onions.

Great looking dish David fit for this special day.

Rosie x

Bellini Valli said...

I would eat liver cooked up for me this way David. My mom would serve it up like the soles of your boots...hard and tough to chew..wink..wink..Happy St. George's Day!!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Happy St. George's Day, David. (Not that I had a clue it was St. George's Day.) SO thanks for informing me. :)I always learn something new from you.

Helen said...

A happy (belated) St. George's day to you David! I'm so glad you posted on the day, I totally agree with you. Why aren't we more proud? I know it's a bit of a cliché now, but having the day off would help things along a little bit wouldn't it? That's no excuse for not celebrating though.

Private Chef said...

Not a big fan of the celeb chefs apart from Gordon and these guys! They just totally rock! Love their style and you are a lucky man to have met them!