I consider myself to be a very curious person and therefore I am always exploring new places around the city in a continuous attempt to learn more about the history and customs of England.
This comprises trying new foods as well.
And many times, also trying to prepare them at home.
Overall, I think that English food is underrated internationally but if one browses through the regional and local delicacies, one may find delicious alternatives to the most classic fish and chips.
All in all, I think English dishes are quite complete and also healthy as they are always including a meat or fish, some vegetables and also potatoes as side dishes.
Unlike Italy where people usually eat a first and second course, English dishes are a complete meal by themselves.
Back to my English cooking ventures, my latest attempt has been trying to prepare the Bedforshire clanger.
Although ingredients and shapes can be a bit different depending on regional differences and individual preferences, the Bedforshire clanger is comparable to a Cornish pasty.
In fact, the Bedforshire clanger was born as a food for the packed lunch of workers or peasants working in the fields.
In the recipe I followed I have read that this savoury roll, made from tallow (animal fat) and flour, has been prepared since the nineteenth century in the counties in the East of England.
The external dough, despite being very nutritious, was not properly intended for consumption: it served originally more as a wrapper (ideally to be discarded) to protect the filling from the dirty hands of the workers.
It used to be very thick and layered so one could ‘peel the clanger’ and eat the dough and filling on the inside only.
Speaking of filling, the clanger lends itself to several combinations: liver and onions, bacon and potatoes or pork and vegetables, often with the addition of sweet elements such as cooked fruit and jam and all characterized by the aroma of sage.
In fact, the etymology of ‘clanger’ could refer precisely to the combination of two different ingredients ‘clanging together.’
Traveling through the numerous English counties you will find all kinds: have fun choosing them by the most curious name among dog-in-blanket, bacon badger and flitting pudding.
I have tried making the dog-in-blanket version which I have noticed to be similar to the American pig-in-a-blanket pastry but, while the American version is a simple frankfurter in phyllo dough, the English version is made with better ingredients like high-quality sausages and homemade crust and the filling does not show
My second attempt has been making potted brown shrimps, a curious preparation based on shrimps and clarified butter that you can eat in a pot or spread onto some hot bread.
Many English recipes involve making potted meats or fish and this means cooking or preserving the food in a glass pot usually air-tight.
In this recipe I found in a magazine, the shrimps are boiled in salted water, cooked slowly in butter and finally flavoured by adding some nutmeg, crushed garlic, cayenne pepper and black pepper to taste.
Some friends of mine also told me that this preparation is also excellent as a sauce for pasta, but on this point we Italians could disagree.
It is supposedly a local delicacy from the Morecambe Bay and they say one should use shrimps from this bay to have the best results.
I, unfortunately, could not find these fresh shrimps here in London but, nonetheless, I tried using high quality Atlantic brown prawns and the result was not bad at all.