Monday, 18 November 2013

What is it that visitors to Britain want to do most? Fuller's Tenants Extra October 2013

What is it that visitors to Britain want to do most? Tourists surveys show that, alongside visiting the Tower of London and seeing the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, very close  to the top of the list for many is visiting a ‘proper’ British pub and eating a traditional dish such as fish and chips or sausage and mash, ideally accompanied by a pint of bitter. 

Of course it’s not just tourists who love the pub. Surveys also show that the pub is the favourite place for Britons to eat out, from a sandwich to a family Sunday lunch. So why, when ‘pub grub’ is referred to in the media, is all too often qualified by a descriptor such as ‘ordinary’ or ‘run-of-the-mill’?  

As one of the perks of my job, I had the good fortune to mark the start of British Food Fortnight in September at a dinner overseen by Brian Turner. The great chef and champion of British produce had worked with EBLEX and BPEX, the trade bodies that promote British meat, to create a menu that spotlighted the very best of home-produced food.

I won’t bore you with the menu … oh, all right I will. Charcuterie from Monmouthshire, freshly grilled mackerel, roast English lamb and a blackberry Eton mess. The reason I mention it, though, is because between courses Mr Turner made a point that I thought was worth repeating.

British cuisine, especially when compared to French, used to be dismissed as bland and a bit ordinary. Brian’s view is that there’s now a recognition that both British produce and traditional British dishes are amongst the best in the world, and as we loosened our belts at the end of his meal, it was very hard to argue.

The overall rehabilitation of the reputation of British food has also helped pub food raise its game, although unfortunately the perception still lags behind the reality. However, there are some easy ways for pubs to put this right:
  • People love provenance: Use geographic descriptions on menus wherever you can – From Welsh lamb to Suffolk pork and Whitby scampi, you might be surprised how much of your menu already has provenance you can promote
  • Talk it up: Use terms such as ‘local’, ‘in season’, ‘fresh’, and ‘homemade’ wherever you can to highlight dishes on the menu
  • Celebrate it all: There’s a whole calendar’s worth of special events such as British Food Fortnight to spotlight your menu, or invent your own - it’s not just bangers and mash with a pint, it’s a Beer and Sausage Festival!
This Kitchen Porter column appear in the October 2013 issue of Fuller's Tenants Extra

No comments:

Post a Comment