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Edible food: a triumph of immigration and globalisation

3 June 2014

12:43 PM

3 June 2014

12:43 PM

As usual I enjoyed Hugo Rifkind’s column in the Times today. His central point that fights, whether on Europe or Scotland or whatever, can’t be ducked forever and that complacency is fatal is all very sound. But that’s not what really caught my eye.

No, I was taken by his reminder that Roger Helmer, Ukip’s sword-bearer in the Newark by-election, reckons that Indian restaurants are the only good thing to have come from immigration and I remembered that, gosh, Mr Helmer is hardly alone in thinking that.

Pretty much anytime anyone writes about immigration commenters will chunter that it’s all very well for you swanky, hoity-toity media types to bore on about the wonders of your local oh-so-authentic Kazakh or Peruvian or Persian restaurant but what about the rest of us, eh? The rest of us being stout-hearted types who sup on salt beef and honest boiled-to-death British vegetables and don’t give tuppence for all this metropolitan crap. Who needs goat curry anyway?

Well, fine. Actually, not fine at all but let’s ignore that for a moment. It’s not as though interesting ethnic restaurants are the only thing Britain has gained from immigration but, just for the fun of it, suppose that were the case? Wouldn’t that be enough to make you hellish appreciative of immigration?

I think so. True, immigration is not the only thing that’s made eating in Britain a worthwhile adventure in recent decades. Foreign travel helped. Britons, having eaten well overseas, began to ask why they couldn’t eat well at home too. At least, not reliably well.

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It’s easy to forget how things used to be. I was reminded of this recently when reading some of Elizabeth David’s cookbooks. True, they were written in a time of post-war austerity but even so the extent of the privations endured by Britons makes for pretty grim reading. Unless you lived in London or a handful of other cities good luck finding olive oil (outside specialty shops a chemist might be your only hope). “British-made” spaghetti is not worth the trouble; search for the stuff made in Italy. Don’t be afraid of it; cooking spaghetti is really rather simple.

Remember: spaghetti was once considered a kind of luxury good. Then again, so were bananas. So, in fact, was edible food.

The discovery – or perhaps the reminder – that food can be a pleasure and not simply a necessity has vastly improved the quality of British life these past 40 years. It has been a long journey right enough, and, sure, it’s easy (even proper) to mock the Guardian’s obsession with quinoa (is it ethical?) but would anyone really want to go back to the bad old days when school food was stuff you ate all your life?

I suspect not. Immigration is only part of the story, of course. The invention of the shipping container played a part. So, more generally, did globalisation. So, of course, did Mrs David and a handful of other heroes.

But with all these fancy foreign restaurants came a revival of actually, quality, British food too. The revelation that food could actually be good – and, elsewhere, was expected to be good –  meant we rediscovered the best parts of our own food history. International influences brought us home, if you will, and it was often foreign chefs who led the way in championing great British ingredients and recipes.

That’s not a trivial development, actually. Eating for pleasure, not just for sustenance, is a pretty big deal. And not just in restaurants either; in other people’s homes too. That’s thanks to globalisation; that’s thanks to immigration too. Each of these has enriched our lives and made them better.

So, sure, bang on about curry houses all you like. Dismiss Britain’s food revolution if you must. Discount the pleasures of eating better if that’s your thing. Treat food as a trivial extra if you want. But don’t be surprised if some of the rest of us disagree and take the view that, actually, food is something it’s worth taking seriously.

It’s not the only benefit of immigration but even if it were the benefits of immigration would hardly be negligible or the kind of thing to be dismissed with such sneering, but unearned, superiority.

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Show comments
  • http://www.aamchimumbai.co.uk/ Kevin

    There has been a drastic influence over the food culture due to globalisation and immigration. To the positive side, it has enriched lives and made them better.

  • blitzer

    ahahaha

  • Bill_der_Berg

    Thanks to immigration and the EU, people in the UK can enjoy a meal in a Greek restaurant, while in Greece many people go hungry. I cannot follow Alex Massie in celebrating this state of affairs.

  • Dogsnob

    Man cannot live on chicken bhuna alone.

  • GraveDave

    Can you believe this guy!

  • FrankS2

    By the way, could Mr Massie recommend a good Scottish restaurant, in the greater London area?

    • Jambo25

      I can certainly recommend a few in the Edinburgh area. My son’s recently eaten at a couple of up-market London eateries: the River Café and the Ivy. He thought they were OK but not as good as Martin Wishart’s or Tom Kitchin’s in Edinburgh.

      • FrankS2

        Are they actual Scottish restaurants – I mean, with an all Scottish menu, not worldwide “fusion” food etc?

        • Jambo25

          They’re not specifically Scottish though both; particularly The Kitchin do present Scottish derived classics. Both are really ‘Fine Dining’ and are probably the 2 best restaurants in Edinburgh.
          3 Restaurants that could claim to be ‘Scottish’ are Castle Terrace, Dubh Prais and First Coast. The first 2 are ‘High End’ Scottish all are excellent

  • chrisd87

    Ah, the ‘food and music’ argument. Always good for a chuckle.

    The point is this – few people think there should be (and should have been) no immigration at all into this country. It’s the scale of it over the last 15 years or so that most people object to. We could have had all of the benefits you mention, whilst avoiding some of the big problems we now face, if we’d kept a proper grip on numbers.

  • allymax bruce

    Ha ha; 100+ comments on taking the piss out of Hugo Rifkind’s ‘impression of Bob Marley’.
    How many comments did Hugo get?

  • Bill_der_Berg

    Globalisation is culinary terrorism. It’s effect on French eating habits has been so dire that concerned Frenchmen are striving to encourage good French cooking. All pro-Europeans should cheer them on and leave it to the europhiles to champion globalisation.

  • edlancey

    Just when you think Massie can’t get any worse up he pops with the oldest joke in the book – the curry house.

    No one denies curry have been here for a long time. It’s even referred to in Hound of the Baskervilles. It’s just that then, as now, it was a way of masking the taste of cheap or rancid meat.

    • FrankS2

      Silver Blaze, I think – I don’t recall a mention the HotBs.

      • edlancey

        Ah yes, I stand corrected. I remember the stables.

        • FrankS2

          Sorry, I was overcome by a sudden urge of Holmesian pedantry! As you say,. curry was used to mask flavours – in thi case, I think, the taste of whatever it was that kept the dog that didn’t bark in the night asleep.

  • LucieCabrol

    Actually Mr Massie, I think most people, up to about 7 or 8 years ago did not mind a bit of controlled immigration; The odd centre where a particular community focussed and that included already a broad range of new foods, restaurants and like experiences….Where the wrath of the people has been raised is the utter betrayal of the country by Labour in literally opening the flood gates…a surge so enormous that the normal process of integration and absorption can not occur, a case where the birth rate of newcomers is materially significant, a situation where some newcomers, by weight of numbers are affecting the result of elections, altering policy being made in parliament. These very refugees, economic or otherwise, fleeing medieval conditions, now begin to seek to impose those very customs that have caused the turmoil they flee from…..why, because as usual they are controlled by their own ‘politicians’, whether religious or not, and a politician will use whatever is to hand to control his ‘people’.

  • Bill_der_Berg

    It was once rumoured when a guest in a certain smart restaurant sent a steak back to the kitchen because it was underdone, the chef would spit on it before the waiter returned it to the table. That is very much like the way the EU deals with referendum results it does not like.

  • Lucy Sky Diamonds

    One Million Brits Now Using Food Banks, Charities Say UK Has Violated ‘Human Right To Food’

    A report by the Trussell Trust showed a “shocking” rise of 163% on the previous 12 months amid rising living costs, low pay and welfare problems.

    The charity said rising numbers were turning to food banks because their incomes are “squeezed”, despite signs of an economic recovery.

    IMPORT THE THIRD WORLD AND YOU BECOME THIRD WORLD.

    • Bill_der_Berg

      I know the type very well. He probably steps over sleeping homeless people when leaving his favourite oh-so-authentic Kazakh restaurant.

  • Lucy Sky Diamonds

    Do you know where your food actually comes from you stupid moron?

    Our food security gets worse and worse every year thanks to an increasing population and urbanisation of farmland, and in a world that has to feed 9 BILLION people means this tiny little island will be utterly screwed.

  • Praxilites

    Immigration has also had costs. From the Salman Rushdie case onwards we have seen minority exceptionalism used as a means of squashing core Enlightenment principles which seemed rock solid back in the day. Chief among those is freedom of speech which is fundamental to a free society. We now have police chasing unfortunates deemed to have written an offensive tweet. I would suggest this is rather more important than food.

  • DaveTheRave

    I fancy something really bland tonight…

    • Lucy Sky Diamonds

      Try a foodbank. millions of people rely on them in Britain.

  • Tim Reed

    Ah…’the curry argument’ for mass immigration. Always a winner in the silly desperation stakes.

    …because, in order to avail ourselves of world cuisine, we are first required to invite the rest of the world to come and stay. Preposterous stuff.

  • Hilton Holloway

    I’m the son of an immigrant, though one from a country with even worse food than Britain’s. However, it seems to me that Free Trade ensures that new types food can be imported quite easily, without the annual 100,000 ‘curry chefs’ that Eric Pickles is trying to clamp down on.

    We managed to import endless amounts of Japanese electrical goods that greatly improved life, without bringing in hundreds of thousands of Japanese with them.

    Though I’m sure that wouldn’t have been a good idea.

    • mohdanga

      “We managed to import endless amounts of Japanese electrical goods that greatly improved life, without bringing in hundreds of thousands of Japanese with them.”
      This has been my argument for years whenever multicultis try and give a good reason for mass immigration….”just look at the great ethnic food we have!!’. You can find any type of American fast food in Japan but the Japanese have zero immigration. The Saudis drive big GM SUVs, drink Coke, use lightbulbs invented by Americans, have shops stuffed with Western luxury goods…yet somehow don’t feel the need to import millions of Westerners (except, of course, the needed ex-pats who are expected to tow the line when outside their compounds). So why is it necessary in the West to import half the Indian subcontinent because curry is a nice dish?

      • Kennybhoy

        “..multicultis try and give a good reason for mass immigration…”

        Multiculturalist and pro-immigration are no the.same…

  • http://www.readmypoems.co.uk Alison

    Oh Mr Massie you can do no wrong,
    How truthfully you speak and change my mind,
    For I am feeble, weak where you are strong.
    Uneducated people, like the blind,
    Cannot see what is right before their eyes.
    Knowledge such as yours, so cosmopolitan,
    Our ignorance so daringly defies,
    For immigration to the metropolitan
    Foodie is a reason to be cheerful. How wise!

  • Makroon

    Helmer is not the ‘sword bearer’, he is the sword wielder.
    All those years in Singapore, and he can’t get beyond a Brit curry-house ? What a waste.
    The most popular “foreign food” in Britain is not ‘curry’, ‘Chinese’, ‘Doner’, or ‘Italian’, it is those strange German-American confections ‘burgers’.

  • cromwell

    It is a false premise that British food was boring. British empire builders brought foods back from all over the world. In the 1950s choice was necessary circumscribed due to rations as we payed back in gold to the yanks on top of what we’d payed in blood to defeat the facists. To say that uncontrolled mass immigration by he millions that has destroyed the heart of our country is somehow justified by so Indian/Pakistani/Turkish/Italian/ African etc restaurants selling crap imitations of there homelands food is scrapping the barrel.

    • mohdanga

      Read an interesting book a few years ago called “The History of Curry”….the English actually introduced to India (from Spain I believe).
      Ask a multiculti supporter to give you one benefit of mass Muslim immigration to Britain (and the West). There isn’t one.

  • Bill_der_Berg

    Good food has always been there but was unaffordable for many people. Now, thanks to factory farming, pesticides, antibiotics and third world labourers working for a pittance, we can all feast like kings. Massie is right to celebrate this triumph of globalisation.

  • Bill_der_Berg

    I just can’t imagine what life would be like without monosodium glutamate.

    • Shazza

      Or halal.

      • Bill_der_Berg

        I’m salivating at the thought of it.

  • black11hawk

    Alex, you clearly have a set of opinions which you’ve thought through and have endeavoured to explain in part here in this blog. But I don’t understand how you can call yourself a conservative. The clue is the name, conservatives want to conserve and the way of life that you bash is one that many people have striven for centuries to keep going and yet has been almost wiped out in a matter of decades in spite of their protests.

    You focus on a single fatuous comment made by an MEP most of the population have probably never heard of, rather than address the core issues of the debate, is immigration good for Britain, are traditional values objectively bad, do the pros of being in the EU outweigh the cons etc. In any case, as Hugo Rifkind points out in his column liberal metropolitan views have become the new establishment, perhaps in this brave new world conservatives are the new iconoclasts.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Massie can feed his obsession for this country to be over-run with EU immigrants all he likes but once again his deranged highly dishonest perspective fails to recognise the obvious. The availability of foreign cuisine pre-dates Blair’s obscene open immigration policies by millenia.

    You don’t need dereliction of the Government’s duty to control immigration from Europe to enjoy all the benefits of international cuisine.

  • William Haworth

    What a good swap; Lee Rigby and the people killed on 7/7 for a few curry houses. Can’t see any fault in that argument.

    • Makroon

      The murderers of Rigby and the 7/7 terrorists were not Indian nor Bangladeshi.

      • Salmondnet

        Their antecedents, however, were from Africa and the Indian sub-continent respectively and their religion was Islam. Never mind, I expect they were just as likely to be the descendants of (Christian) Huguenots. Notoriously prone to blow up their fellow citizens or behead their own country’s off-duty soldiers as we all know.

        • Kennybhoy

          “Never mind, I expect they were just as likely to be the descendants of (Christian) Huguenots.”

          Their parents are Christians…

  • ADW

    It’s about time everyone stopped indulging Massie. His game is a bit obvious. For the first few months he was with the Spectator, he was the new Clive Davis, whose comments used to hover around the zero mark before they finally let him go. Massie wasn’t much different – no-one ever read anything he wrote about anything – so eventually he resorted to ‘click bait’ by posting trash about immigration that one suspects he doesn’t believe a word of. As has been observed many times, he’s no better than the old hypocrites Roy Jenkins and Ted Heath (both of whom were far superior intellectually) who lived respectively in an Oxford Village and Salisbury Cathedral Close, ethnic minorities = zero in both places.

    • Rhoda Klapp8

      I’d forgotten about Clive Davis. It isn’t very nice of you to remind me. Remember how he left and started his own blog where he didn’t think he needed to reply to comments? I wonder how that went.

      • ADW

        Sorry about that, though to be honest that’s the first time Clive Davis has evoked an emotional reaction online, ever, so there’s something of note.

        He closed his blog to comments because he never got any, so wanted to hide the fact. He left and resumed his own blog, free of editors, sub-editors or readers, much less commentators. Apparently the unrestricted freedom was too much for him after a while.

        All you need to know about him is that he managed a show of faux-liberal outrage when Rod Liddle was blunt and un-PC about a brutal crime committed by some ethnic miniority offenders. Nothing to say about the crime, of course, it was only Rod’s indelicate language that outraged Davis.

    • dmitri the impostor

      “Jenkins loathed the idea of referendums not least because this most self-consciously elitist of politicians saw them as ‘the likely enemy of progressive causes from the abolition of capital punishment to race relations legislation.’ ”

      Dominic Sandbrook

      State of Emergency p158

      Rhoda – The preposterous Clive Davis closed his blog to comments while it was still hosted by the Spectator, a policy whose preciosity was much derided by various luminaries including Leo McKinstry. Clive then decamped and tentatively opened his blog to comments. When you and the Colonel (as he then wasn’t) availed yourself of this generous facility, Clive burst into tears. The enterprise did not last long after that.

      God knows what the pair of you are still doing in this oubliette, BTW. Defect to Breitbart. acp

      • ADW

        According to his fellow liberal elitist Lord Lester, Jenkins was shocked to discover that some minority communities were keen to sign up to some of his multicultural doctrine, but didn’t want to accept a secular, neutral state – instead they wanted to impose their religion on everyone else like in brutal theocracies elsewhere. Having met precious few human beings outside Oxford and Westminster, or his little Oxford Village, Jenkins couldn’t get his otherwise large intellect to work that one out.

        Quite why he thought there was some magical liberal indoctrination machine that all newcomers stepped into the moment they got off the plane is anyone’s guess. Still, as I said, never affected him, living in his twee village and occasionally dining at high table.

    • sarahsmith232

      Think you’re right on the ‘click bait’ thing. This Massie doesn’t appear to have very much to say about society other than daftly provocative pro immigration articles.
      I don’t understand why anyone bothers to reply to this Telemachus that’s always posting silly comments that are the equiv’. He’s no interest in writing anything of interest, he just wants to provoke. So many allow themselves to fall for it and let the saddo rile them.
      This Massie is basically on this Telemachus level, I’m sure he must feel so really very proud.

  • MichtyMe

    For good or ill I am one of those whose gastronomic tastes ceased to develop at a young age and am reluctant to eat anything that I was not exposed to as a child. I occasionally will consume a banana, they were rationed when young, but an avocado, never tasted one of those.

    • Colonel Mustard

      You’re not missing much. Overrated and tasteless, like cold tinned peas ground into a paste. Give me ginger pudding and treacle any time.

      • MichtyMe

        Yum, Yum, that’s brought back memories.

      • Kaine

        If we’re going for ginger, has to be Jamaican Ginger Cake.

        All this food talk is tempting me to do some baking.

      • Hexhamgeezer

        Mmmm…. hot mushy peas or cold pease pudding – with salty ham & pickle n’ stotty n’ beer….

      • Makroon

        Oh rubbish. A beautiful ripe avocado in Brazil or Mexico, sprinkled with the merest hint of coarse salt, is rich, subtle and delightful.

  • callingallcomets

    Well the DM does have form in this area. Only a few weeks ago they had to settle with Mrs Farage for making false claims

    http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/daily-mail-pays-damages-and-legal-costs-farage-wife-after-saying-she-was-previously-his-mistress

    Funny how that settlement didn’t get much coverage in the media (especially the DT & Speccie….I wonder why?

    What was even more astonishing was that after the election some pilchard at the Mail claimed that they never joined in the media mauling of Farage/UKIP

    http://www.theagedp.com/?tag=daily-mail

    As for McBore…isn’t it time he was superannuated?

    • Makroon

      Fair comment, but aren’t UKIP agin’ the ‘culture of litigation’ ?

      • callingallcomets

        You must give me the name of your dealer…you’re obviously smoking some really powerful stuff…

  • Donafugata

    Does Massie not consider it at all possible that English people can go to a country and take a course in cooking the local specialities?

    To justify mass immigration by saying we have a choice of menu seems somewhat foolish.

    • mohdanga

      Don’t even have to do that, they can read a cookbook!! I’ve never been to India but I can make great curry.

      • Alexsandr

        you dont need to be asian to make a curry. Anyone can do it.

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    how many Scots immigrants do we have? Millions. How many Haggis restaurants?

    No link.

    • Hexhamgeezer

      Or Irish….

      • Makroon

        Thousands of Oirish pubs ?

        • Hexhamgeezer

          Thought we were talking food, or are you praising oirish crisps?

          But as regards their boozers……..massively overated shed-like rooms selling only Guinness and shyte lager. Not a patch on the British version.

    • Makroon

      Angus Steakhouse ? Loch Fyne ?

      • La Fold

        Angus Steakhouses are about as Scottish as a salad!

  • dmitri the impostor

    ‘dismissed with such sneering, but unearned, superiority.’

    The ultimate schoolboy debating tactic: accuse the antagonist of one’s own worst failing.

    Schoolboy (= student) debater. Check.

    Sneering. Check.

    Unearned. Daddy’s coat-tails. Not unlike your fellow Pharisee, Rifkind. Double check.

    Superiority. As in: ‘I thank thee, Lord, that I am not as other men.’ (Luke 18.11) Check.

    The profundity of your ‘food is nice’ argument would justify unlimited migration. But then difficult practicalities like costs -vs.- benefits, allocation of resources and how public services are expected to function under unlimited strain are sordidities far beneath the dignity of intellectuals like you.

  • IainRMuir

    Good choice of food available in Tokyo as well.

    How come?

  • anyfool

    Massie the reason food in the fifties and sixties onwards was dull, was that because of the war and rationing, the ingredients were at best crap, not the best training for those who had to do the cooking
    There has always been good food in the UK, you think it started when you and your kind decided to put pretension on the menu and imported an authentic native to boost your self satisfaction.

    The millions you imported cannot all serve you, if your bellies were as big as your own idea of worth, you would need a lot more.

    • Hexhamgeezer

      Can’t praise this post enough. Cut right through Massie’s Bubblista crud

    • Kitty MLB

      Yes there has always been good food in the UK and yes the war must have had a influence at that particular time. But variety adds to the spice of life.
      I know a kipper from elsewhere who only eats English food- that must cause
      issues eating out. And how dull.
      Yet saying that if eating Lamb it will always be Welsh or English Lamb and
      Scottish Salmon. And English fruit and Vegetables if I can. But love foreign
      cheeses, hams, Belgium chocolates. And different cuisines as well as our own.

      • Alexsandr

        french cheese.? but what about wensledale, a proper farmhouse cheddar, some of our great stltons.
        or my favourite, Monkland’s little hereford
        http://www.monklandcheesedairy.co.uk/epages/BT4099.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/BT4099/Products/%22Little%20Hereford%22

      • anyfool

        I don’t have a problem with food from around the world, I have a problem with this clot Massie insinuating we need millions of third world peasants to enrich our lives with their culinary offerings.
        His fatuous comment that foreigners coming here sparked the rise in quality food is nonsense, more money in the pay packet did that.
        Lastly if someone is going to try to persuade the people of this country, that the Labour party driven immigration which drove down the money in the pay packet, using the high end quality food that he and his witless friends consume, will not sway people, who now because of lower wages cannot afford.

      • john king

        Same here, but I wouldn’t ask the cook to move into my spare room.
        All we really need is the recipe.

    • LadyDingDong

      I can well remember having to eat (Army ration) corned beef for Christmas in the mid-50s and my late sainted mother was able to turn it into something delicious. The recent availabilty of diverse and exotic foodstuffs in Morrisons, the Coop, Waitrose or the corner shop run by Ahmed owe much to globalisation and very little to the mass immigration that this bonehead is trying to credit. Germany, Italy and France have large numbers of immigrants also but try getting anything other that German, French or Italian food there (apart from McDonalds and a few Thai, Vietnamese or Indian restaurants in the main cities). I know it’s free to read but does Fraser actually pay these people to write misinformed tripe?

      • La Fold

        I have to say thta after french food the most popular cuisine in France is probably MacDonalds or a pizza. Almost every medium sized town ive been to has a drive through. Almost the same number of restaurants as the UK and I think the 5th or 6th biggest market for macdonalds in the world. Telling the French this winds them up no end.

        • LadyDingDong

          I think you will find that France is the biggest market in the world for McDonalds after the USA – extraordinary but I believe true. Don’t get me wrong, I love French food and you can eat eat very well there, but for someone like me who prefers eastern cuisines, France is not well served. London is now the food capital of the world and the only country that come close is Singapore for the diversity and quality of cuisines. The fact is, I do not see many: Polish, Hungarian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Pakistani, Somalian or Nigerian restaurants but isn’t that where most of these immigrants that so enrich us and excite Mr Massie come from? The Indian restaurants were here before Labour vastly increased their voting pool from the sub continent and anyway, are usually of inferior quality and offer mostly overcooked Bangladeshi food. Very few Indian restaurants compare to (say) the outstanding cross-Asian East Street in Rathbone Place, or the many excellent Thai restaurants that occupy most decent suburbs and towns, or the new breed of high-end Chinese restaurants in London that offer food far superior to that in Hong Kong, Shanghai or San Francisco.

          • La Fold

            I know France used to be MacDonalds the biggest growing market after Northern America, Paris has more MacdOnalds than London and the head of MacDonalds Europe was a Frenchman but sure i read that Japan was now the 2nd biggest market for them now and has the most outlets outside USA, although if not I stand corrected.

          • Makroon

            If you really think London has better Chinese restaurants than Shanghai or Hong Kong (or especially Guangzhou), you are very sadly misinformed, and robbing yourself of spectacular culinary experiences.
            Similarly, Singapore serves up only a particularly manque version of Chinese, and dreadfully poor versions of the rich and glorious dishes of neighbouring Malaysia.

            • LadyDingDong

              Really? Thank you so much for your well-informed comment. Of course, having lived in Kuala Lumpur for 3 years, Jahor Bahru for a year and in Singapore off and on for the last 45 years with an office and an apartment there since 2010 what would I know? I have only been to Hong Kong 30 or 40 times and China less than 20 so my knowledge is a bit limited. How good of you to enlighten this uneducated peasant.

              • Hexhamgeezer

                Sledgehammer cracks nut 😉 !

              • Makroon

                And yet … you think London has better Chinese food than Hong Kong or Shanghai ? Does not compute.

              • john king

                Perhaps while in Johor you noticed a very, very popular restaurant that is always packed and serves only English food? (the Sunday lunch being the speciality)
                It seems that we British are not as rubbish as the author would have us believe.

            • Jambo25

              Its doubtful if London has better Chinese restaurants than Manchester.

      • Jambo25

        One of the better meals I’ve had in Germany was Middle Eastern food in an Egyptian owned beerhall in Bamberg. Falafels, Middle Eastern salads with really good German beer. A great combination on a warm summer’s night. Germany has come on a bit you know. It’s not all Schnitzel and Sauerbraten.

  • http://twitter.com/georgeigler George Igler

    When my parents came here from the very gastronomically renowned country of Hungary, in 1970, they were astonished by the extraordinary quality and quantity of food that was available. Compared to what they were used to they would stand literally staring, agog, through the windows of the countless independent butcher shops and fishmongers which dotted every high street.

    This was nothing new. There is a lovely painting by Hogarth in the National Gallery called “O the Roast Beef of Old England” which depicts starving continentals lusting after the fine produce of these isles. Even during WWII fish and chips were not rationed, at the height of war, if you wanted and needed to eat, and eat well, you could.

    But to hear it told today prior to the arrival of the Empire Windrush and the mass immigration that followed, all British people ever ate were grey hued pasties stuffed with stewed cabbage, acorns and sawdust.

    • Blindsideflanker

      They might have a bit of difficulty explaining away Creme Anglais.

      • Donafugata

        Crème Anglaise is the French word for custard, culinary traffic is two-way.

        • Kaine

          If I was expecting custard with my apple crumble and I got Crème Anglais I would be rather miffed.

          • Alexsandr

            nowt wrong with proper Birds custard. The stuff made from the pink powder, not the pre made stuff.
            (As an aside, did you know custard powder is an explosive?)

    • Makroon

      Ha-ha, that was then, this is now. I have a couple of Hungarian acquaintances – they do nothing but moan about the quality of our supermarket vegetables and compare them unfavourably to the produce in Budapest market.
      I have pointed out that those tasteless watery tomatoes and limp and neutered lettuces, are all imported from Dutch (subsidised gas fired) greenhouses and Spanish ‘industrial farms’ using water they can’t spare and EU subsidies.

  • Blindsideflanker

    Does any other country in the world have dominance of a meal of the day as English people do with the Full English?

    • Kaine

      I will point out the Full Scottish, Full Irish and Ulster Fry also exist, the last being my personal favourite (though this may be because of what it means about where I’ve woken up).

      • La Fold

        Ulster fry, love the stuff, but the full scottish for me. square sausage, black pudding and tattie scones, oocha boy!

        • Alexsandr

          have you tried fruit sausage. Think its a western scotland thing. I have only been served it in Tarbert. Yummy with egg.

          • La Fold

            fruit pudding? Yes I have, got to admit im not a big fan, would prefer just a white pudding by itself. You get it all over Scotland, mostly seen in “breakfast packs” you get from the corner shop which will have sausages, lorne/ square sausage, black pudding and fruit pudding in them.

    • echo34

      Does any other country in the world have such dullards as so called journos spewing forth this absolutely asinine drivel as informed thinking?

  • La Fold

    I always thought the popularity of indian and to a lesser extent “chinese” food came from soldiers coming back from serving abroad in various places in Asia and nothing to do with mass immigration otherwise i think rice and peas would be Britiains most popular dish instead of a Tikka Masala.
    Saying that the British are very open when it comes to its culinary tastes. Apart from the occassional “kebab” shop and the very occassional Vietnamese you’ll be hard pushed to find anything like a curry house, say outside of Paris or Toulouse. The germans idea of exotic food is Currywurst (sliced sausages in tomato sauce sprinkled with curry powder). Same goes in general with the Italians, the Spanish, the dutch and especially the Nordics (my mate from Sweden, ironically, makes it a point of going for a decent curry when he visits the UK). Thats not knocking anyones cuisine but they just tend to stick to their own nations, in some cases, regions cooking.

    • Kaine

      It comes from being a maritime power I think. We nicked stuff from everywhere!

      • La Fold

        Youre right, thats definitely a large part of it.

      • glurk

        Agreed…as much due to us invading them as vice versa

    • MikeF

      Indeed – ‘diversity’ as a consequence of ‘imperialism’. Funny that you never hear the ‘multiculturalists’ saying so.

      • Kennybhoy

        Or, conversely, the anti-immigrationists who usually laud the days of empire…

        Just sayin…

  • Colonel Mustard

    This is like some first class passenger on the Titanic enthusing that the ice from the iceberg enriches his gin and tonic. It is muddle headed on so many counts of missing the point that its patronising tone is all the more foolish.

    • Hello

      “This is like some first class passenger on the Titanic enthusing that the ice from the iceberg enriches his gin and tonic”

      He did more or less acknowledge that that’s the case. His point was that it’s the right of that passenger to enjoy his gin and tonic, and even to state that he intends to do so. In much the same way that it’s your right to run around screaming “We’re all gonna die!”, and even to enjoy doing so.

      Of course, you’re exaggerating somewhat to suggest that the ship is going down. This is not the Titanic.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Er, I’m not running around screaming that “We’re all gonna die”.

        As for the ship going down I’m afraid that it really is, especially for your party. But never mind, eh? You keep re-arranging those deckchairs as your band plays the same old tune and enjoy your gin and tonic as you sneer at those passengers less than enthusiastic about embracing the ice cold and bitter briny of Chairman Miliband. After all it’s your right to do so. I fear it will be Goodbye rather than Hello though.

  • Luke

    This reminds me of the Garrison Keillor remark about Lutherans regarding food not so much as fuel as ballast.

  • Wessex Man

    I take that Massie has definate proof that Roger Helmer said those things at all, I only ask because Roger Halmer has written a stinging letter to Simon Walters, Political Editor of the Mail on Sunday about him (Walters) putting words not spoken by Helmer in a report of their meeting which he then went on to publish.

    I understand that Roger Helmer is considering legal action against Walters and would love to see him launcing legal action against Alex Massie.

    In fact, I would love to see it so much, I’m going to send Mr Massie’s article to UKip Head Office.

    • John Dalton

      Good for you Wessex Man! I am going to do the same. They should not be allowed to get away with this.

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    We had Indian restaurants before mass immigration, largely as a result of demand from ex-ex-pats. We manage to have restaurants based around cuisines with no large immigrant base, and immigrants groups who have had no impact on our eating habits. By which I mean there is no strong link.

    But then, this is Massie. No link is even expected. Make up your own arguments, there is no need to deal with actual arguments raised by your opponents if you can make up theirs too.

    • Cooper1992

      In the past I have read articles by journalists who I clearly don’t agree with but they have at least provided some kind of argument with some logic used.

      This articles argument is one of the worst I’ve ever read! Utter rubbish!

    • John Dalton

      One of Massie’s stupidest yet. The man is a wind up merchant, crippled by the chips on his shoulder, who would like to see England destroyed and conservatives and patriots have their noses well and truly rubbed in it.

      Does he ever consider WHY most readers of this blog feel so furious about how their once great country has been systematically dismantled by hateful people of his ilk?

      • Makroon

        Just what are you going on about ?

        • john king

          Troll you know TROLL.
          Look in the mirror.

      • Kennybhoy

        “The man is a wind up merchant…”

        You have just worked this out…? Nelson employs him as a troll! lol

  • Blindsideflanker

    Massie is typical of people thinking that different is better, and in their worship of all things foreign forgetting the richness of the culture here, including food, after all the world would be all the poorer for not having our pies and puddings, or roast meats, or cheeses, or booze.

  • you_kid

    Mummy, what is an Aubergine? Why is it purple?
    Be quite child and eat your UKIP vegetables.

    • Wessex Man

      so sad.

      • you_kid

        But Mummy, it’s not home-grown.
        Shut up child, it’s good for you!

        • Hexhamgeezer

          Dire.

        • Inverted Meniscus

          But Mummy, what is this gibberish spouting socialist nutter talking about? Shut up child, he is a gibberish spouting socialist nutter.

          • Kitty MLB

            Maybe some mummies give too many microwavable meals
            in plastic trays to socialist children to eat. Instead of nice fresh
            food to help the intellect to grow.

    • Inverted Meniscus

      Does anybody know what this socialist nutter and his sock puppet menagerie are talking about?

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