UK is full of eater­ies she would love

The Guardian - - NEWS - Tony Nay­lor

Fa­mously, in 2005, with her beloved Nor­wich City trail­ing, the club’s joint ma­jor­ity share­holder, Delia Smith, strode onto the pitch at half-time and at­tempted to rally the fans. “Where are you? Let’s be ‘avin you,” de­manded the “sainted Delia”, in a hith­erto unimag­in­ably ram­bunc­tious out­burst.

Yes­ter­day’s com­ments af­ter vis­it­ing the Queen reprised some of that sup­pressed, scat­ter­gun at­ti­tude, as Smith – now 76, and ev­i­dently past car­ing about her mod­est pub­lic im­age – got a few things off her chest. Un­for­tu­nately, she chose the wrong tar­get.

Smith’s de­spair at “very pon­cey, very chefy” food, and her sug­ges­tion that it has ru­ined Bri­tish restau­rants, is sad and com­pletely wrong.

It is an un­sur­pris­ing stance from nonon­sense Delia, who, in How to Cheat at Cook­ing, rec­om­mended we use tinned mince and frozen mash.

But like @We­want­plates (that har­rumph­ing on­line log of bizarre serv­ing ideas: tiramisu in a trainer shoe; burg­ers on bin lids etc), Smith’s sweep­ing dis­missal of or­nately de­signed dishes with “six dots of sauce on” en­cap­su­lates a small-minded English fear of moder­nity and fuss, of risk-tak­ing and cre­ativ­ity, of out­ra­geous plea­sure.

There are chefs push­ing daft, im­prac­ti­cal plat­ing ideas. Chips served in lit­tle fry­ing bas­kets are the least of it. But take it on a case by case ba­sis. From ice-cream cre­ated ta­ble­side at Fat Duck in clouds of dry ice, to the whole fried cauliflower at Cum­bria’s Lake Road Kitchen (like a black­ened as­ter­oid, speared with a hunt­ing knife), much of the most ex­cit­ing cook­ing in the past decade has been at restau­rants that em­brace witty, chal­leng­ing pre­sen­ta­tion. It is not show­ing off.

These are not gorm­less chefs. Such restau­rants are of­ten run by cere­bral fig­ures com­mit­ted to the sus­tain­able, waste-free cook­ing that Smith favours.

More­over, cook­ing rooted in tra­di­tional tech­nique is thriv­ing in Bri­tain. Smith needs to get out more. To Roger Hickman’s in Nor­wich per­haps, which the Good Food Guide praises for its “real food”, or to Ch­ester to ex­pe­ri­ence Sticky Wal­nut’s rig­or­ous, mod­ern bistro cook­ing. Fur­ther north, in Sed­bergh (stop off for a pie at Lan­cashire’s Park­ers Arms first), Smith could en­joy lamb’s kid­neys on toast at the Three Hares – with no the­atri­cal flour­ishes.

True, Smith may not find rich but­tery French sauces out there. Bri­tish cook­ing is lighter now, thank­fully. Like that night at Car­row Road (Nor­wich even­tu­ally lost 2-3), she will have to stom­ach any dis­ap­point­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.