Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Fast Food And Pancakes

I finally have a good reason for not having updated the blog in a wee while - more on that later - but in this culinary exposé I'm going to take a look at fast foods (the good ones) and it just wouldn't be right to ignore the fact that yesterday was Shrove Tuesday. And that means pancakes.

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Alright - so that reason for not updating the blog. A couple of weeks ago my jaw started clicking, cracking, and generally causing me a lot of pain when I was trying to eat or drink. This meant I had about a week or so of eating soup and spaghetti hoops and all things soft and slushy. So really not much to report on the cooking front.

An odd segueway into talking about fast foods, perhaps, but one that can easily be explained. After not having had anything 'proper' to eat for about six days, I was really craving some fat, fried, generally disgustingly bad food. And what better way to reintroduce yourself to food than to go for the king of the takeaway - the mighty doner kebab.

This is a food that is just as likely to make you sick as it is to taste delicious - but that really is the fun of a kebab. You never know what you're going to get - from what's in that mystery meat, to how hot the chilli sauce is going to be, to whether the garlic mayo will be just ever so slightly off... it's all a gamble!

I think it epitomises what fast food ought to be. And I don't mean the sanitised, homogenised efforts put forward by the likes of McDonalds or Burger King or any other sub-standard chain.

Fast food is about that roulette of uncertainty of just exactly what you're getting. Or alternatively something that's specific to a particular locality.

For example Middlesbrough's Parmo. This is a classic Teesside carry out that is loosely based on Parmigiana. For the northern re-working, a chicken fillet is flattened, covered in egg yolk and breadcrumbs, deep fried, layered with bechamel sauce, covered in grated cheddar (not parmesan...) and then grilled. Typically served with chips.

Glasgow is another city rife with its own original deep fried delicacies. Most notably perhaps is the deep fried Mars bar which is fairly self explanatory.

This is not the extent of Glaswegian ingenuity though, with the pizza crunch (a battered and deep fried slice of pizza - typically cheese or pepperoni), and the somewhat vulgarly named stauner (a battered sausage wrapped in doner kebab meat, re-battered and deep fried) also finding their origins in the west coast city.

Glasgow is also the alleged home of the chicken tikka masala. The popular curry was supposedly invented to cater for a population who 'wanted a bit of gravy on their meat'.

Now, I don't usually do this, but for a couple of reasons I'd like you to comment on this blog if you know of any other regional fast foods or interesting stories about the origins of a particular 'delicacy' that I haven't (or indeed have!) mentioned. Firstly to try and expand my knowledge of the subject (I'd also like to do a food tour of the UK at some point and will do my best to try such dishes as are suggested), and secondly to try and gauge how many people are reading this. Probably five - hi mum!

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It would, as I've already mentioned, be a bit of a sin to not write even a small amount about pancakes in this blog. It was 'Pancake Tuesday' yesterday after all.

I'm not going to put a recipe up for pancakes - everyone has their own, and yes, your own is probably the best - it always is. Though I'm in the mood for a little history and culture here after indulging in the modern delights of deep fried foods.

So, do you know why we have pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? No? Then let me tell you. With Lent upon us, yesterday was traditionally (and still is for some) the last day that sugar, fat, eggs, and other such foods were allowed to be eaten before a period of fasting. What do you get when you combine all these forbidden foods? Why, pancakes of course! And so a last meal before the fasting starts.

The fasting, and the period of Lent itself has its origins in Christianity, often Catholicism specifically, though other denominations also practice fasting during this time. If you're interested to know a little more about Christianity, please do have a look here. And if that's got you interested, then here is a good place to go to ask some questions...

Let me leave you with a picture of one of my pancakes from this year.

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Coming up:

- I haven't done any proper recipe based blogging for a while, so I'll try to put something together soon.
- It's the centenary of Sweden's national cheese this year, Västerbottensost, so I'll be trying to get hold of some to give it a try.
- And finally, there's a website I've just stumbled across, Miss Piggy's, which sells a marvellous Guinness Cake which I'm looking into trying to introduce to a work St Patrick's Day celebration that's coming up in 8 days!
- Don't forget to leave a comment as mentioned above if you'd be so kind!

3 comments:

  1. well I don't know if this is strictly a regional thing, but in my home town of Leicester you can get chip butties from the chip shop (though not a fan myself....) Or how about a melton mowbray pork pie? - not fast if you make it yourself, but fast enough bought from a farm shop :-)

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  2. The MM Pork Pie is already on my radar, though the chip butty now has me wondering about its origins...

    I'll have to find out. Thank you!

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