Saturday, November 27, 2010

Smoke Me a Kipper, I'll Be Back for Breakfast

I don't know what's gotten into me lately, but for some reason over the past couple of days I've been eating a lot of "traditional" working-class English food and pub grub. A few nights ago I cooked Lancashire hot pot, brimming with hearty meaty goodness. Last night I made a rich, smoky Welsh rarebit and washed it down with an amber beer. This afternoon I'm having scrambled eggs with kippers on toast, complete with a steaming mug of black tea.

Stoke me a clipper, I'll be back for Christmas
Some years ago when I was still just a pup, my Australian-born-New-Zealand-raised-half-Welsh-half-English grandmother very patiently explained to me the difference between afternoon tea vs. high tea. In a tone polite as only the Brits can be, she told me that afternoon tea was usually held mid-afternoon, and was the sort of event put on by upper class ladies wearing pastel shades and pearl strands. The tea would be black but not too strong, with sugar and cream, though of course no real lady ever took more than one lump of sugar. And there would be pastries and small cakes and those little finger sandwiches full of watercress and curried chicken salad and paper-thin cucumber slices, all with the crusts cut off.

High tea, on the other hand, was a working man's dinner, the sort of thing a common man would eat when he got home from a hard day at the factory or in the mine. It was typically served around six or seven in the evening, standard dinner time. Kippers and toast had their place at such a meal, along with sturdy fare such as meats, boiled eggs, bread and butter, and some sort of cake for dessert, all washed down with mugs of strong black tea.

For this recipe, spouse cooked up the scrambled eggs for me, and I made the kippered toast. It's just buttered wheat toast with chunks of Brunswick kippered snacks on top, popped back in the toaster oven for a minute more to heat them up, with a final sprinkling of paprika for seasoning and color. This is definitely one of those meals that tastes better than it both looks and smells: it's strong, smoky, and fishy, which combo isn't for everyone. But if you need a good dose of omega-3's and can get your nose around the piscine scent, kippers on toast is filling, and it had a nice savory, smoky, slightly nutty flavor coupled with the crisp warmth of the toast.

Spouse has requested Welsh rarebit for dinner again, since he wasn't in for last night's version. I'm also contemplating tackling bangers and mash in the not-too-distant future, or perhaps a scaled-down version of the Sunday Beefeater dinner my mom's family used to have around Christmas time when I was a kid (complete with roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, steamed peas, and apple pie). Stay tuned for more Britfood as I continue to get in touch with my culinary roots.

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