For the first time since arriving in the US four years ago, I was suddenly hit by a huge force of homesickness. I have to blame Gourmet's March 2005 "All About London" edition which arrived in my mailbox this morning.
Fred and I had been having a small disagreement about the quality of the modern-day English Chef over the washing up when, suddenly, I spotted the Gourmet, with its Abbey Road cover and was magnetically drawn to it. Whilst he expounded the virtues of French 3-star Michelin chefs, I started to leaf through the magazine.
Pictures and words about places and foods I love, pictures of appealing new places I had no knowledge about or experience of. I had a sudden feeling I was missing out on something coupled with a tinge of bitterness that these places simply did not exist when I lived there. Slowly, my eyes started to well up with tears and not too many seconds later I was sobbing uncontrollably. At that point Fred noticed that something was wrong and he came to give me a hug. Of course, he wanted to know what was the matter. I managed to squeak "The magazine just made me homesick". Gently he wiped the tears from my eyes, smiled and whispered, "Ah, that's so cute", shortly followed by a "do you want to move back?"
A minute later, recovery well under way, I reassured him I had no intention of moving away from the San Francisco I love. But I sure as hell am pleased that the British are starting to get the culinary recognition they deserve after years in the wilderness, being dismissed, laughed at and blamed for a lot of the world's bad food. It always exasperated me that it was Americans who would give us Brits so much stick anyway. That would be the Americans that invented Mcdonalds, Jello salads, Cool Whip and plastic cheese.
Well you know what? We Brits went through some bad food times in the 60s, 70s and 80s, it's true. But Britain has a solid culinary tradition and background, one which I am proud of, one which I intend to continue to study, learn about and celebrate.
And just so you all know, I am not going to take any crap jokes about English food anymore. (Marmite aside). I am happy to announce: Britain has moved on. Gourmet has caught on to the fact. So should the rest of the world. Homesick?