to eat your words (idiom)
definition: to retract what you have said, especially in a humiliated or apologetic way.
Kayte – As a linguist, I spend my working days with people who are not British. Which is great, and everything. BUT what I don’t love is the fact that at least twenty times a year one of these people-who-are-not-British tells us that British food is “rubbish”. At least twenty times a year. And I take a deep breath, and a patient expression and say hopeful things like “But what about crumpets? Crumpets are lovely”.
And they say…”What’s a crumpet?”
(Ok, it might not always be a crumpet actually. It might be Yorkshire Pudding, or Toad-in-the-Hole, or even a simple old rarebit…but the conversation is the same).
Our clients complain that it’s difficult to “try British food”. Our streets are full of Chinese, Indian, Italian, French restaurants, and you never hear anyone say “Oooh, I’m off for an English”. Lots of British food is cooked at home, and you, therefore, need an invitation. So, badly prepared and overpriced crap in a tourist pub is often as close as many of them get to “British food”.
And since so much of our language is filled with food-related expression and idiom, it seemed the perfect thing: a collection of properly British food, with some jolly useful language thrown in.
– Kayte, the Brilliant English Company
Nicer Kate* – we Brits have one of the richest food cultures in the world, full of inspirations from other nations- from the Romans, via the Vikings and especially thanks to our long-standing (and not always amicable) relationship with France.
We are amongst the most invaded nations in the world, and have picked up traditions and foods from these visitors (it’s amazing how many recipes we get from the Romans), but as everyone knows the British have done a bit of invading themselves … and brought things home too.
We have delicious wintery stews, slow cooked roasts, light summer dishes, tarts, cakes, bakes, kedgerees, chutneys, more cheeses than the French, wines and ales, creamy fruit puddings, and lots and lots of dishes with very odd names.
What do today’s visitors take away from Great Britain, though?
The greasy fish and chips and beige fried rubbish they found in a bloody pub in Leicester Square. And what do they say about British cooking? They say we boil and deep-fry everything. And what do they say about the taste? They say everything is bland and without flavour.
When I hear people say ‘bland’ (bland!!!), it makes me want to take a jar of Hot English Mustard and flick it at them.
It’s all too depressing for words.
And SO, for all those who have told us that British food is ‘rubbish’, this little blog will, we hope, make you Eat Your Words.
– Nicer Kate, brewer, baker and cake maker, Bake
One last note:
We would like to dedicate this blog to two people:
Our very dear, very handsome Italian friend, who we shall call Mr Wickham for now… because, without his regular scathing criticism of British food, his exaggerated expressions of revulsion at British recipes and his constant hysterical laughter at the British ability to cook, we would not have thought of our title. We love you for it, Mr W, so thank you and up yours.
And to Auntie Yumi, stupidly far away in Tokyo. Our very own Bakey-Bakey Lady, and godmother to one of our daughters, who in her years living alongside us embraced every aspect of our food and our drink (especially our drink) and with whom we had many a happy cheese-fuelled road trip. You should never have left us. Bad girl.
*People often ask why Nicer Kate is so-called. To make a long story short, a few years ago, Kayte and Kate played netball for a mixed team in Central London. In the pub after a training session (what? Doesn’t everyone go for a few beers after a training session?), a dear friend of ours, Aki, referred in conversation to something ‘Kate told me’. Kayte looked confused and said ‘I don’t remember saying that’. Aki replied, entirely straight-faced ‘No, not you. Nicer Kate. (…) What’s wrong with that? She is nicer’.
And the legend was born.