Friday, 2 April 2010

Parsnips, bacon, chips, peas and chow mein

This soup lark is working really well, despite having the same meal for two days running each time. But a bit of cheat now kicks in.

Tonight I'm making a parsnip soup. Now, I loathe parsnips. They're horrible. So this is an excuse for me to have my monthly portion of chips, with mushy peas. Which CJBS thinks are horrible, so it's a fair exchange.

Since this soup isn't for a vegetarian and CJBS is due some of his meagre bacon ration, I'm going to do a bacon and parsnip soup. This just adds bacon at the frying stage of the roux, plus a carrot for the colour. A little bit of evap, on points, makes it into a cream of parsnip soup.

Tomorrow is a very special day: Doctor Who is back on and we promised to celebrate with our first Chinese takeaway this year. Britain's Chinese population have been here almost as long as our Asian population, but whilst the white British took to Indian food very quickly, they were slower to embrace Chinese (more precisely, Cantonese) cookery.

There is an exception to this: Merseyside. Here, Chinese food became a normal part of the diet early on, perhaps because the port of Liverpool, formerly being so huge, has long made the area very cosmopolitan (despite the poverty, of which there is a frighteningly large amount, Merseyside has very good 'race relations' - racism does exist, but not in the confrontational style seen in such dumps as Dagenham or Blackburn) and the people have historically been quick to adopt 'foreign' food.

The vast majority of the fish and chip shops on Merseyside are British Chinese owned and operated, a fact that surprises people from other areas (for some reason). Chinese food got in through the back door because of this: selling fish and chips, but also offering rice, then noodles, then stir fries... and soon Merseysiders were commonly buying fish and chips with chow mein and fried rice in the same way other Brits ask for fish and chips and a battered sausage.

From there, it's a short journey to Chinese sit-down restaurants without the fish and chips, of which Liverpool has a number worth visiting (and it always pleases me no end to see people making their way from Argos and Primark, laden with cheap shopping, stopping for a quick lunch of sweet and sour chicken and some prawn toast before getting a bus back to their terraced house).

All of this is a long way of saying that tomorrow's dinner is not anachronistic to World War II eating habits, at least locally. But normal service will be resumed on Sunday, where it's that old standby bubble and squeak, with a week of soups to start again on Monday. I'm thinking Minestrone, made in my slow cooker...

3 comments:

angygraham said...

The only way to get me to eat parsnips is to roast them. Even then they still taste like they have sugar on them.

Tanya Jones said...

Chip shops were all Chinese-run round my way in Hampshire as well. Now I'm in Ruislip, I think both the chip shops near me are run by Turkish families, and offer Matzo batter. Isn't multi-cultural Britain fascinating?

RJGraham said...

It's unendingly wonderful! 3 years ago, a friend took us out in (greater) London, ignoring all the stuff in the centre and straight to... New Malden.

There was method in his madness: the entire high street, it seemed, was taken up with Korean restaurants of varying quality and expense (there's bound to be a fascinating historical reason for this) and I ate until I was ready to explode. It was lovely in every possible way (I'm a sucker for noodles, but this was noodles-double-plus).

It made me realise that there are suburbs without number with every possible type of food. So many types of food, so little time... :o)