Friday, July 11, 2003

British food product of the day

It started with the rhubarb. It awakened the Anglophile in me, who has long lay dormant in the absence of Jane Austen and Agatha Christie books. I’m feeling nostalgic for afternoon tea, rigid class hierarchies, and saying things like “Rah-ther!” and “Hear, hear!”.

However, British food, unlike its literature, historically has a less-than-sterling reputation, at least according to my sources. I imagine this may be changing what with all the sexy cooking from the Naked Chef and Nigella. But in any case, I never thought the traditional stuff sounded all that bad, though I’ve never actually had any myself. So I set out to discover British cuisine.

And that is how I ended up with a jar of English Double Devon cream. I found it, strangely enough, at the Italian market. Double Devon cream is a type of clotted cream, which is the British counterpart of cream cheese, specialty of the West Country (hence the alternate name of Devonshire cream) and a quintessential part of the whole tea-with-scones thing. It looks like mayonnaise, but much thicker, being 48% butterfat (I try not to think of that last part too much). How to use it: spread on bread, with jam on scones, mixed with sauces, and on top of fruits and desserts. By itself it tastes kind of weird, kind like eating butter straight up would be, but it was wonderful mixed into hot rhubarb crisp. It adds a creaminess that is something more (okay, a lot more) than Reddi-Wip and not as sweet.

The English thing would be cream with fresh strawberries (a Wimbledon tradition), but I like it with broiled peaches, the preparation of which is so easy it can hardly be called a recipe. Sprinkle sugar on top of two peach halves, let them sit a bit, and then put them under the broiler for about 5 minutes. Top with double Devon cream. Jolly good, wot?

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