Ah, England. We do many, many things so very well, such as utterly failing to adequately prepare for the same adverse weather that happens every single year just so the population have something to whinge about. And queuing. We do so love a good queue, especially if someone pushes in so we can tut loudly and roll our eyes, or if the queue is long enough to warrant another good whining session with the person stood behind you.
What we DON’T seem to excel on on the world stage is food and drink. Nope. Not known for it. Our food is allegedly bland and our beer is flat and warm. Even our national spirit, gin, tastes like hairspray and yes, I know what hairspray tastes like. I’ve had the misfortune of breathing in a little too quickly after dousing my barnet in the appropriate amount of chemical required to maintain a respectable Lesbian Haircut. And tonic is basically carbonated demon spunk so put the two together as is customary and you’ve got a recipe for vomit. Real ales aren’t much better, they really are flat and warm. I’ve tried to like ale, really I have. I have mates that are into ales, mates that aren’t old men with a penchant for tweed jackets with leather elbow patches and corduroy trousers that lament the day smoking was banned in pubs because they can no longer light up a pipe at the bar as they letch at the serving wench’s cleavage.
Aaaaanyhoo… I’ve sat there at the pub and tried to work my way down the pumps, ordering on the advice of my bitter drinking friends, before I gave up and ordered a Fosters. There are SO MANY different types. Dark, pale, hoppy, ruby, bests. They range from a watery 3 point something percent right up to a “blow your head off” variety which would probably get you pissed from the feet up and you’d think you’re fine until you try to go for a piss. I’ve started working in a pub that sells ales so I’ve had to learn how to tell if an ale is ready to go on or not and I just can’t. They all taste like armpit to me. I’m slowing differentiating between the different levels of armpit though; If it tastes like the armpit of a man condemned to walk up a giant hill in 50 degree heat in a world without deodorant whilst wearing a bear suit then you probably shouldn’t sell it just yet, but if it’s merely the armpit of a woman who showers before bed but just woke up from a nightmare in a cool room whilst being fanned by minions who may or may not be wearing bear suits then it’s probably ready to go.
As for food, I reckon we’ve gotten a bit of a raw deal. I don’t think our food is that bad, especially here in Brighton where food is taken very, very seriously and I jumped right on that bandwagon. Nearly broke the fucking thing too. You don’t get to stuff your facehole with all of the goodies the local pubs and restaurants have to offer without your arse becoming big enough to develop its own gravitational pull.
But anyway. English nosh. Let’s start with the humble fish and chips. As a nation we’re weaned on this. It’s the dish that brings the north and the south together but I’m not talking those lovely, straight chips that the EU would drool over. No. I’m talking proper chippy chips. The proper, fat, greasy ones. The slobs of the fried carbohydrate world. The ones you can imagine slouched on a stained sofa wearing a string vest with a can of Stella in one hand and a Lambert & Butler in the other shouting, “LAAARRRD!” If anyone who didn’t grow up here was handed a plate of these, they’d send them back to the kitchen whilst the British would excitedly douse them in salt and vinegar and pile them between two slices of white bread for an epic chip buttie. Fuck yes! But it’s getting harder and harder to get these proper chips as everywhere starts banging on about skinny fries or hand-cut chips with the skin left on the spuds.
As for the fish, it’s got to be battered and dripping with grease. If it doesn’t leave oily stains on the newspaper it was served in then it’s not done right. And and and! Scraps! Now this is a distinctly northern thing, you just don’t get them down here. It’s literally that; it’s scraps, the bits left over in the deep fat fryer shovelled into a small, paper bag which quickly becomes transparent with grease. You used to be able to get them for free. Fish and chips, a pickled onion and a bag of scraps please, mate. Try and explain scraps to a Southerner and they’ll look at you like you just announced your penchant for granny grabbing with a cheeky wink to their grandmother. I haven’t lived oop north for 13 years now, I’ve no idea if you can even still get scraps or if they were banned because it was discovered they caused seven different types of cancer or something. One last nod to the humble chippy; No where else can you get the fuck off great big pickled onions that they sell. Fuck your little cocktail pickled onions that you have to try and skewer with a tiny stick and eat with one’s pinky held aloft. These bad boys are like pickled onions on steroids, even if you could fit them in your gob you wouldn’t be able to chew because you’d have stretched your jaw to that point where you can’t close your mouth unless you remove whatever it is you just stuffed in there.
Aaaaanyway. Let’s move onto the most important meal of the day. Breakfast. Bollocks to your chocolate croissants and glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, and you can keep your bowl of muesli with organic soy milk. There’s no point in eating something if you’re only going to be hungry again in half an hour. Full English Breakfast. That’ll keep you going for a while. A proper full English should consist of fried egg, fried bacon, fried sausage, fried bread, fried black pudding, fried hash browns and baked beans, covered with lashings of your favourite sauce which should either be ketchup or my personal choice, HP sauce. Not “brown” sauce. Fuck off. It’s got to be HP or it’s just not proper. We call it a fry up. Fry ALL of the things. Basically, a full English, when done right, should make your arteries bleed just by looking at it. I’m surprised more people don’t die young in this country.
So, Sundays are a day of rest but not for your digestive system which is usually about to take a traditional culinary beating in the form of a Sunday roast. This is like some kind of sport in Brighton. Everyone, myself included, is dedicated to finding The Best Sunday Roast In Brighton. There’s even a fucking website with reviews. This is serious shit, people. This shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you’re ever invited for a roast with a Brightonian friend, be prepared to spend the meal discussing every single nuance, from the quality of the meat to the quantity of the gravy. The array of vegetables to the crunchiness of the parsnip crisps. The roast potatoes to the size of the Yorkshires. Oh my god, the Yorkshire puddings! A roast without a Yorkie is like Michael Jackson without a sparkly glove. Anne Robinson without a crooked smile and a snide comment. A playground without an 80’s kids’ TV presenter loitering in the shadows. Never has a greasy dollop of batter been so revered by a whole country, it’s no wonder the rest of the world think we’re eccentric or some shit. I tend to inhale mine then sit there and eye up everyone else’s, ready to jump in with a, “Are you going to eat that?” if they show the slightest sign that they might be too full to finish.
Yep, Tubby McFatfuck here is gonna have to loosen the belt a notch or two. My gut currently leaves the sofa a good two minutes after I do. I need to find a hobby which involves less sitting down and shovelling substances into my face like I was raised by fucking wolves or something and more moving around, and not just to the bar to order more snacks.