Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bronx is the New Britain, or How I Met (and Fell in Love With) Blood Sausage

When Moses said let my people go, Britain was a muddy hole in the ground. When the Emperor Hadrian built his famous wall across England, it was still just a rainy, muddy hole. And as the world’s greatest religious and political dynasties rose and fell, still, Britain was an unspeakably muddy, backwards kind of place. Let’s leave it at this: the Maya were conducting brain surgery as the Scots invented whiskey and not much else. Priorities, people? Well...I guess we could argue over that one pretty endlessly.

Still. It’s safe to say that I’ve never chosen to partake of traditional British cuisine, as long as we're ignoring ale, scotch, stilton, cheddar, and shepherd's pie, which we probably shouldn't, but...Toad-in-the-hole? Sunday boil? Guiness? Hello?

When Yaz – who was raised on the stuff I've spent my entire adult life avoiding – offered to change my lowly opinion of the British and their cuisine once and for all, how could I turn her down? I'm a walking, talking stomach. And following the culinary world's ongoing obsession with broiled marrow bones, I was ready to sink my teeth into anything, yes, anything, especially offal. Yes, definitely offal.

Sunday morning I'm out of bed by nine, which, if you know me, is heroically early. I'm excited, and as I ride the train uptown towards the Bronx, the day's menu figures large in my sleep-starved, under-caffeinated mind: cornish pasties, steak and ale pie, sausage rolls, scrapple, blood sausage, cheddar and apple sandwiches, chips and vinegar, mushy peas, curry dip and Branson's pickles, hot cross buns, Cadbury chocolate, and perhaps, most importantly, that sailor's best friend, the gin and tonic.

We're at Yaz' house watching Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, which, to be honest, has aged incredibly badly, but that's besides the point. The spread before us is formidable, almost ridiculously so. Yaz has outdone herself. I can't keep my mouth closed. There's enough food for ten people, but it's beautiful, especially now, in the afternoon light. Just take a look at the pictures – you'll see.

More to come later!

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