Friday, August 25, 2006

The thing I love about the English is their unashamed love of simple food. Food that provides comfort, food that is designed to fill and dare I say bloat! Food that can be found in pubs and is always served with some sort of potato!

The English love it all - Jacket potatoes, cabbage mash, Tuna and sweet corn, or cheese, onion and salad cream baps (don’t knock it till you try it!!). Even the poshest English lass will get stuck into a plate of fried eggs and Baked Beans after a big night out!!

In the four years I’ve been a UK resident I have not once come across an act of food snobbery perpetrated by a local. Generally speaking the English have a ‘food humility’ that stands in stark contrast to the attitudes I grew up with in Australia. I can’t include my New Zealand experiences in this instance as when you grow up with Maoris you have to accept one fundamental fact about yourself and your heritage…. Maoris eat anything!!

Maybe that’s why I love the English approach to food.

As a Maori growing up in Australia I found many adjustments were necessary. Very early on in the piece I learnt that to stop being teased about your funny accent you quickly had to assume the beloved ‘Aussie Twang’. Likewise, to stop being at the receiving end of school yard taunts over the contents of ones lunchbox one had to loose the ‘I eat anything and I’m proud of it’ attitude.

At my school in Australia to admit that you ate baked beans was to commit social suicide. To have tuna in your lunchbox was to be accused of smelling like cat food. The funny thing was that even as I got older many of my peers still held tight to these attitudes. So I continued to deny the relief evoked by publicly vocalising my true food inclinations.

Don’t get me wrong – I believe that to eat well is to eat a variety and to eat good quality. I even like donning the glad rags and spending a fortune on Posh Nosh every now and again too. However I also believe that everyone has room to indulge in a little simple, maybe even filthy, food every now and again.

England has induced a regression back to my childhood food attitudes. No longer do I ashamedly eat beans on toast for breakfast without admitting to my friends that this was the reason I didn’t feel like lunch. Rather I celebrate simple food. I eat it. I cook it. I love it!

I think maybe there is something quite Maori about the English!!