I often hear people cracking jokes about traditional British food. Namely, that it’s not very good. “Everything’s boiled,” I hear them say. “I hope you like boiled, salted porks and overcooked cabbage and flavorless shepherd’s pies”.
Of course, these are really unfair generalizations. Just because England isn’t known for developing the endless gourmet varieties of West European countries, doesn’t mean they haven’t perfected their butcheries and meat pies over the last couple of thousand years.
I decided, while in London, I needed to find the most “authentic” British dining experience. I asked random people near my hostel at Shepherd’s Bush, until I was directed to a place called The Ginger Pig. There are seven ginger piggeries around London, originating from a farming operation that they take a lot of pride in (and also offer classes on butchery). From their website:
“The Ginger Pig began over 20 years ago, with a near-derelict farmhouse and three Tamworth pigs. We now farm over 3,000 acres of our own pasture and North Yorkshire moorland, and work with a small network of like-minded farmers to supply our seven London butchers’ shops. At the heart of everything we do is good animal husbandry and welfare; livestock that is looked after well in the field will simply taste better on the plate.”
So in I went, to the Ginger Pig on W12 Askew Road, London.
Black pudding is a well-known English food, a special concoction of boiled and prepped pig’s blood, pig fats, diced and powdered onion, and various other herbs. The final product looks like a loaf of holiday fruitcake.
Black puddings have been around for as long as animals have been butchered and eaten by humans. However, I’m willing to bet that the recipes have been perfected from “bloody and caustic” to actually edible by non-fans of blood based dishes
As for the sausage roll, I’m not sure the Ginger Pig’s secret recipe, but I imagine it involved a hefty amount of herbs. As with the namesake, I definitely tasted some ginger inside of it. On the outside, the crust was light, flaky, and buttery.
The blood sausage was like eating a cold loaf of “something”. There was an unmistakable bloody after-taste. But, it was far from unpleasant, and stronger than the blood was the taste of the herbs and spices, which blended well together. In fact, I didn’t even mind the bloody taste of it. It was quite good, in it’s own way.
What was missing was anything green. Combining this with a pint of ale at the hostel / pub I am staying at, I am well on my way to acquiring gout if I don’t balance my diet soon.
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