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In Search of Good English Food by Verona Paul and Jason Winner 1. How come it is so difficult to find English food in England? In Greece you eat Greek food, in France French food, in Italy Italian food, but in England, in any High Street in the Land, it is easier to find Indian and Chinese restaurants than English ones. In London you can eat Thai, Portuguese, Turkish, Lebanese, Japanese, Russian, Polish, Swiss, Swedish, Spanish, and Italian — but where are the English restaurants? 2. It is not only in restaurants that foreign dishes are replacing traditional British food. In every supermarket, sales of pasta, pizza and poppadoms are booming. Why has this happened? What is wrong with the cooks of Britain that they prefer cooking pasta to potatoes? Why do the British choose to eat lasagne instead of shepherd’s pie? Why do they now like cooking in wine and olive oil? But perhaps it is a good thing. After all, this is the end of the 20th century and we can get ingredients from all over the world in just a few hours. Anyway, wasn’t English food always disgusting and tasteless? Wasn’t it always boiled to death and swimming in fat? The answer to these questions is a resounding ‘No’, but to understand this, we have to go back to before World War II. 3. The British have in fact always imported food from abroad. From the time of the Roman invasion foreign trade was a major influence on British cooking. English kitchens, like the English language, absorbed ingredients from all over the world — chickens, rabbits, apples, and tea. All of these and more were successfully incorporated into British dishes. Another important influence on British cooking was of course the weather. The good old British rain gives us rich soil and green grass, and means that we are able to produce some of the finest varieties of meat, fruit and vegetables, which don’t need fancy sauces or complicated reci pes to disguise their taste. 4. However, World War II changed everything. Wartime women had to forget 600 years of British cooking, learn to do without foreign