The savoury dishes normally associated with traditional English cooking are characterized by a total lack of pretension and infantile simplicity of preparation and, as the Englishman in me would admit, distinguish themselves more by their strangely esoteric names than any claim to subtlety of taste. The limited space available to us here does not allow mention to extend beyond the following, generally considered to be the most common:
Bubble and Squeak: In the past this typically English savoury dish was a standard Monday lunchtime fry-up of vegetable and meat left-overs from the Sunday roast. Preparation and cooking present no great challenge, being well within the reach of a moderately-sharp five-year-old. Instead of being tipped into the wheelie bin, ingredients are chopped up and dumped into a frying pan. Mashed potato is then added as a binder, and the resulting agglomeration fried and turned until golden brown. The name itself, apparently, is an onomatopoeic echo of the sounds emitted during the frying process.
Yorkshire Pudding: Contrary to what most French people think, a pudding is not necessarily a hot dessert. Traditionally, Yorkshire Pudding is eaten either with the main Sunday lunch of roast beef and vegetables, or on its own as a starter. Made simply from a mixture of plain flour, milk and eggs, preparation is well within the competence of anyone capable of producing a tolerable cup of instant coffee, though it is vital to use lard as a cooking medium, and the oven must be really hot before baking. The dish can include onions, and is served with plain gravy or onion gravy sauce.
Bangers and Mash: This quintessentially English savoury dish consists of sausages served with mashed potatoes. Preparation is elementary enough to be well within the capabilities of anybody able to crack an egg five times out of ten without breaking the yolk. My French readers will be interested to note that ‘banger’ is a familiar word for a sausage, and constitutes an onomatopoeic reference to the fact that, unless thoroughly pricked before frying, their high water content makes them liable to explode with a deafening bang.
Toad-in-the-Hole: A sausage covered in a thick, Yorkshire Pudding-type batter, and then baked in the oven. Given that the sausage is usually bought ready-made, this is yet another English savoury dish which would not tax the culinary skills of anyone capable of making a decent cup of tea (though, apparently, the next-in-line to the British throne can’t). And what about the strange-sounding name?’ One explanation has it that the end of the sausage emerging from its batter coating is not without resembling a toad sticking its head out of a hole. Well…err with a bit of imagination, why not?