Right after my last grandparent passed, I really got into genealogy and started to research my family's origins. The family I grew up around and identified with most, my mother's side (surnamed Thomas), which came from the British Isles. Specifically Redruth, Cornwall and Cardiff, Wales. Being something of an Anglophile, already, this just seemed a natural extension of my interests. In this, I became interested in aspects of family tradition that were likely lost as my family became more Americanized. Food seemed like an obvious cultural loss. So I started attempting to make some traditional British foods for the fun of it. I usually put my own spin on the recipe, though. Substituting things like carrots for swede (rutabaga), etc.
Anyway, here are a few of the things I've made and eaten. The Brits like them some heavy and hardy foods.
Cornish Pasty. Pronounced "pass-tee" and yes, there's a stripper or burlesque joke in here somewhere, but that's as far as I'm going with it. It's a family(ish) blog. Pasties are meat, potatoes, onions and carrots baked in a short crust. Kind of a homemade potpie flavored Hot Pocket with a history dating back to the Cornish tin mining industry. I've made them several times. They're quite filling. I've eaten three since Sunday, when I made about a dozen.
Perhaps a close cousin to the pasty is the Irish Dingle Pie. Basically the same thing, only in a circular pie shape instead of a half moon. Honestly, the pasty is easier to make. The Dingle Pies require some forethought in rolling out two sets of slightly different sized circles. One set for the bases and one for the caps.
My variation on Yorkshire Rarebit. Similar to Welsh Rarebit, only you add egg and bacon. The cheese sauce you put on your toast has beer and mustard in it. Can't remember the actual recipe at the moment, but it's much better than the simple cheese on toast thing sounds.
Cottage pie, only distinguishable from Shepherds Pie by the filling of ground beef rather than lamb, is a favorite in our house. It's easy to make and you can even use leftover ingredients from your Cornish Pasty endeavors to make it, like I did this past weekend.
Beer Bread. Beer and bread in one awesome package. Need I say more?
Beef and Ale or Stout Stew with Irish Brown Soda Scones or Bread. Probably my favorite to make. It takes about three hours and is best done on a cold and lazy weekend where you don't plan to do much other than hang out around the house.
And on to dessert!
Scottish Shortbread. It can be made in large rounds or cut up into fun shapes using cookie cutters, depending on the occasion.
Finishing where we started, the dessert pasty. These were made with blueberries, mulberries off the tree behind the house, a little sugar and a dab of butter. Simple and they came out great! I've also made them with honey and cinnamon sugar
Food is an great way to feel a cultural connection to a place, even if you've never been there. I'm a VERY picky eater and it's taken some retraining myself to get my head around a few foods. Like when I make Indian curries, Chinese stir-fry, Mexican and SW style foods, etc. I sometimes have to make myself step outside my comfort zone and am, more often than not, pleasantly surprised. But I do need to work on getting more veggies into my meals, I'll admit.