I learned about British foods by name in the books of the wonderful British authors who I read growing up. Scrambled eggs and sardines in P.G. Wodehouse, hot buttered scones and ginger beer in Enid Blyton, salmon and asparagus in Somerset Maugham… I had almost no idea what they would taste like, but they sounded strange, exotic and attractive at the time. Still my first introduction to British food on British soil was anti-climactic, if anything.
I had just spent the whole night and half the day at the airport and in a plane. I had butterflies the size of eagles in my stomach: it was my first trip abroad and I was joining a group of 12 journalists from around the world on an eight-week fellowship to learn all we could about journalism in Britain. I was already more than a day late because of passport-authorizing delays in India and although I’d been up nearly 24 hours I had no time to stop or grab a bite before I had to rush off to join the others who were already touring the BBC and were about to leave for the office of the legendary London Times.
My first meal was a dinner buffet laid out for us by the Times as we chatted with the top editors there (Rupert Murdoch — who owns the Times– wandered in at one point, realized he was in the wrong place, and excused himself immediately. But at the time it was a huge thrill for all of us to see one of the news business’s biggest moguls in the flesh).
I picked up a piece of tuna fish and some salad and immediately regretted it. Perhaps it was the fatigue, or my spice-ravaged tastebuds were just not used to it, but the fish tasted terribly bland and the salad was– well, I’ve said it many times before, I am not a fan of raw salads.
Over the next few weeks, though, I had enough time and opportunity to try out all kinds of British food and I am happy to say that I never again ate anything I absolutely didn’t love. Of course, we always ate at restaurants, but the restaurants were certainly doing a great job of making the local food nothing short of delicious even to tastebuds as diverse as those in our group– we had fellows from South Africa, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, among others.
But the food I ate was either meat-based or dairy-based (this was in my pre-vegan days), so when I got ready to announce It’s A Vegan World: British last month, I confess I was just a wee bit worried– how easy would it be to strip meat, fish, eggs and dairy from British food and still make it spectacular? I decided to go ahead because I reminded myself of all you adventurous cooks out there. You didn’t let me down and thanks to you, we have a great feast here that would convert any skeptic.
So here, without further delay, are your wonderful creations (in alphabetical order, by your names). Thanks to each one of you for participating– what can I say, you’re amazing!
Brown Scone by Arathi of Arathi’s Kitchen
Irish Soda Bread by Champa of BangaloreBaker
Leek and Potato Soup by Claire of Chez Cayenne
Spotted Dick by Jaya of Jayaspace
Oatcakes by Jules
Cranachan by Jules
Shepard’s Pie by Maria of Vegan Dinners
Mulligatawny Soup by Meena of Chettinad Fiesta
Soda Bread Scones by Pavani of Cook’s Hideout
Blueberry Cake by Priya of 365 Days of Pure Vegetarian
Cherry & Peach Crumble by Priya of Akshayapaatram
Scones by Priya Narasimhan of Priya’s Vegetarian Recipes
10 Vegan Pickles from the British Raj by Ramki of One-Page Cookbooks
Vegan Tattie Scones by Sweatha of Tasty Curry Leaf
Colcannon by Sweatha of Tasty Curry Leaf
Savory “Lamb” Stew (Scouse)
Do let me know if I missed anyone– it is not by design, and I’ll add you immediately.
Also, if you haven’t already, do catch up on past editions of IAVW. We have meat-free, dairy-free, fish-free and egg-free feasts from Morocco, Thailand, Mexico and Italy. And this month we’re featuring Malaysian vegan cuisine, so don’t forget to send in your recipes!