“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
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
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.