The Italian Almanac

english food

Italian News - June 10

Two Italian cooks have taken it on themselves to disprove the common perception that English food is appalling. After living in Britain for years and enduring endless jokes from relatives about soggy pasta and overcooked vegetables, Renata Beltrami and Silvia Mazzola have just published a book which aims to set the record straight.

The volume, called Language on a Plate (Mursia), is part recipe book and part guide to the culture and language of the nation that produced culinary triumphs such as Yorkshire pudding and Shepherd's Pie. The idea is that a little bit of knowledge will help Italian visitors overcome initial difficulties and appreciate the delights of rhubarb crumble and gooseberry fool.

"Perhaps it's about time we stopped complaining about bland vegetables, strange mixes of flavours and unknown ingredients," say the two Milanese authors in the preface. "By learning to eat in English, we will better understand the language and the people and we'll handle restaurants and supermarkets more easily".

The book, which was presented in London on Friday with the help of the Italian ambassador, also offers linguistic help, explaining food-related sayings such as "spill the beans" and "not my cup of tea". They draw attention to the curious names given to certain dishes, explaining that Toad-in-the-Hole is much nicer than it sounds and that Bubble and Squeak is a reference to possible indigestion problems

Despite their passion for English food, the two Milanese cooks say Italian tourists might be right when they fail to be moved by the tradition of 'cheese and biscuits'. "Anyone brought up on ricotta, Parmesan and pecorino will lose heart when faced with Cheddar".