No doubt I am not the only one to have been annoyed by a certain European leader's recent ignorant and ill-considered remarks about our cookery, and although it may constitute preaching to the converted, I feel compelled to respond. The truth is that traditional English food has always had its delights, and in recent decades the situation has only improved. England has not only assimilated a vast array of foreign foods, with an enthusiasm that belies its reputation, but begun to revive its own native cuisine, impelled both by a new-found confidence and cross-fertilisation between English and foreign cuisines, of which Asian and Chinese food have had the greatest influence. The result? London is now one of the best places to eat in the world, there are foreign as well as English restaurants all over the country, and many ordinary English people have become enthusiastic amateur cooks. Amongst modern English fare we can now number, in addition to bangers and mash, Yorkshire pudding, and other native specialities, a variety of foreign dishes and uniquely English/Indian hybrids involving cream as well as curry. Thus it is in a spirit of indignation and defiance that we offer to the world this syllabub recipe, half Mrs Beeton and half hazy childhood memories, which was concocted as therapy after reading Mr Chirac's remarks. Syllabub is Elizabethan in origin, and it has survived because it is a true classic. It may be simple to make, but it is simply unbeatable. And if, by some strange chance, you should happen to know Mr Chirac personally, request him (politely) to eat some.
Serving suggestions: serve over fresh fruit in season. This version uses strawberries, but raspberries would also be nice. Make up small amounts and try it instead of custard or ice cream on other desserts as well. This recipe is sufficient for 2-3 people, depending on the size of the glasses that you serve it in.
1 1/2 cups of whipping cream
1/8 cup of brandy
1/8 cup of sherry (1/4 cup of brandy alone may be substituted for the sherry and brandy)
1 whole lemon
caster sugar to taste
a little nutmeg
a few fresh strawberries
a few grains of salt
Wash the lemon thoroughly, grate the peel, and squeeze out the juice. Put the peel and the juice into a bowl with the cream, sugar, salt, sherry, brandy and nutmeg, and beat the mixture until stiff using a whisk. Wash and halve the strawberries, and place a few halves at the bottom of each tall glass. Spoon the syllabub over the strawberries, and consume either immediately or after chilling for about an hour. Serve with tea, in a garden if you can find one. --Isabel Taylor
The Best Lover........
I feel I could sleep for a fortnight, I feel I could run for a year, I know I could dance for a lifetime; I know this, because you're still here.
You came round last night for a coffee; You needed to clear your head. And so I moved onto the sofa, While you fell asleep in my bed.
You said that you'd stay here forever, We'd be happy here, you and I; But the tears that you wept in my pillows Never really had time to dry.
And now you're cooking me breakfast, While I'm on the phone to your Dad. I know sooner or later you'll leave me: The best lover that I never had. --James Turner