Author Claire Hopley

great british comestibles In 2001 British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook called chicken tikka masala “a true British national dish.” Everyone gasped. What about fish and chips and roast beef and Yorkshire pudding? But Cook was right. The enticing curried chunks of chicken—the tikka of its name—in a spicy sauce—the masala—had become the UK’s most popular dish, served in all Indian restaurants and many pubs, available ready-made in all supermarkets and known affectionately as CTM. CTM sped to popularity in the 1970s, and succeeded so quickly because the British were confirmed curry lovers. And not just Indian curries. British cooks had…

great british comestibles Visitors to Britain soon spot the country’s love of cakes, pastries and all things baked. High Street bakeries, country tearooms, fancy hotels and simple market stalls parade such enticing arrays that having to choose just one treat is hard. British bakers learned many of their recipes from European countries, especially France, but also Switzerland and Italy. British emigrants took their favorites to North America and other countries, so now many baked goods are international. But Britain retains many distinctive cakes and breads, and a strong tradition of home baking. Each region of the country has its own…

SCORES OF DIFFERENT SPECIES of fish swim the silver seas surrounding Britain, and crustaceans find homes in the crannied coast. No wonder fish and chips is the most popular national dish, traditionally made with cod or haddock, or nowadays sometimes with pollock. Fish and chips are inexpensive. At the other end of the price scale, delicious Dover sole is deservedly costly. Usually it’s grilled whole and ceremoniously separated into fillets by the waiter at the table. Trout and sea bass are also often served whole, eying diners from the plate—to the occasional alarm of visitors. But Britain has a myriad…

The 620 unique gardens of the National Plants Collection TO PRESERVE BRITAIN’S CULTIVATED FLORA IN SETTINGS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC Wedgwood-colored pyramid of agapanthus soars above a crowd of admirers at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Flower Show at Tatton Park in Cheshire. Around it glow banks of pink and purple fuchsia, yellow and orange chrysanthemums, multicolored dahlias, delicious roses. They have their admirers, but nothing quite competes with Steve Hickman’s elegant display. When designers needed some white agapanthus to adorn Leicester Square during the Olympics, they came to him. As the holder of the National Collection of agapanthus, Hickman cultivates…

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