Wednesday, February 23, 2005


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.


  • At 24/2/05 08:21, Blogger Amy Sherman said…

    Glad to hear your bout of homesickness was short-lived.

    I spent several weeks on a farm in Devon in 1982 and the food was fantastic. I ate simply prepared but amazingly farm fresh produce and the best lamb I ever tasted (yes,even better than New Zealand or Australian lamb). I'd never crack a joke about Brit cooking.

  • At 24/2/05 21:20, Anonymous del4yo said…

    I spent the evening trying to find the history book we were talking about

    It's A table, by Anthony Rowley

    I tride to find an english translation, no way!

    Big hug

  • At 25/2/05 06:35, Blogger Sam said…

    thank you, Amy
    et merci bien Del.

  • At 25/2/05 13:43, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A lot of British people (and Australians) make fun of American food, as well, of course, as everyone else. Sameness, mongrelization, americans have no cuisine, there is nothing to eat anywhere in america, whatever. I mean if your talking about the quality of food in general, are you being poked fun at by the sort of people who would have no problem criticizing mcdonalds and twinkies and the american diet or is it people who eat badly but are being rough on you anyway?. because if it's the former, i think you're being a little touchy. i saw this article in the guardian about American chefs coming over to Britain to teach the British about good food and and how to eat and i just sat there trying to think what it reminded me of and now i know; it reminded me of most mainstream american newspaper articles in the eighties about minorities (esp. black people and hispanics):the nurturing of indignation and hostility masked as guileless, innocently overcompensating, inquiry. it is quite as common than not that articles about america particularly travel or food articles in british papers balance anything good that is being said with some kind of critical commentary on the state of american culture somewhere in the article. this just cannot be said of the same types of articles about other countries. What's to be said though? i'm sure the writer visiting Aspen or wherever really did find things to be so. every country gets the kind of stuff your talking about. when asked about french food Faith Willinger likes to say, oh we won't even talk about the F country. Should the french be touchy about that because she comes from the land of mcdonalds, or is it okay because she's lived in italy for so long and it's legit, or could they not give a shit because they're confident in their cuisine. i think this stuff gets to you because there's something to get to and in that case who cares who's saying it; no one you speak to is the representative of the state of american cuisine and opinions about foreign lands.

  • At 25/2/05 13:57, Blogger Estelle said…

    Hello Sam, I thought your nostalgie attack was very moving. I know exactly what you went through, it hits you just like that, although you know you are great in your new home. I was glad to read you are doing better!

    Anyway, this issue of Gourmet is excellent, it feels like you actually are in London, I love the feeling. Their NYC issue last year was pretty good too, I don't know if you read it.

    (BTW: I don't forget the Turkish Delights recipe, it shold come soon!!)

  • At 6/3/05 23:14, Blogger Debra Solomon said…

    Sam, I absolutely know what you went through that night. I live in the Netherlands and Occitania but come from California. Only how would THAT Gourmet magazine cover look, I wonder!

  • At 27/2/06 13:58, Anonymous sha said…

    Hey Sam thank you for this but I know I cant get hold of this mag till mid march here.

    I have spent a great deal of my time and some dosh eating out in UK... london restaurants have good food well some... but really things are changing.

    many gastropubs do serve fantastic english food these days


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