Food for Thought

Caramel WafflesMcDonalds latest special is the 1955 Burger, ‘a tribute to where it all began’ apparently and advertised with modern day scenes of life in the UK that transform into homely images of 1950s American suburbia.

The burger is comprised of: ‘A 100% beef patty with caramelised onions, lettuce, tomato, bacon, seasoned tomato sauce and our special smoky sauce in a sesame seeded bun.’

I’ve no idea if that was indeed the kind of fast-food fare you could enjoy in post-war America, but it would certainly have been a novelty in the austere UK of the 1950s when cheesecake and spam fritters would have been considered exotic.

But tastes have changed, or rather they have become homogenised as foodstuffs have become yet another globalised commodity that the consumer can count on for consistency from Blackpool to Bangkok.

It is heartening then that some treats and dishes retain their sense of place and seldom venture beyond their country of creation, no matter how yummy they might be.

Take kudu for example. The meat of this African antelope is delicious when cooked correctly. Lean and dry and slightly gamey, but apart from a few specialist online suppliers, it is not something that is readily available in the UK.

Of course, it is a long way from Africa, but we’ve never had a problem with Argentinian beef or New Zealand lamb in the past, at least not since the invention of refrigeration.

What made me think of all this is the photo above of the originele stroopwafels that my daughter brought back from her recent visit to Holland where I gather they are a common delicacy.

They are a simple confection — caramel sandwiched between two crispy waffles. Fifteen seconds in the microwave and they are absolutely delicious.

My point is that UK manufacturers haven’t pounced on this idea when Holland is but a shortish boat ride away and despite the historical association between our two countries.

It rather gives me hope that not all foodstuffs will become McDonaldised or KFC-ed and that there are still many culinary discoveries for me to make beyond these shores.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

3 comments… Add yours
  • rog 22nd September 2011

    it’s a problem in the USA too – homogenization, i.e.

  • Yorkshire Pudding 22nd September 2011

    It is a shame that most food has “gone international”. In the past, part of the delight of travel would have been to discover new and previously untried foodstuffs. Perhaps you should import a few hundred cases of the caramelised waffles and then repackage them as “Uncle Ian’s Traditional Stockport Flatcakes”. I could be your van driver. There’s be your mugshot on the side – like Manchester’s answer to Colonel Sanders.

  • The Wartime Housewife 23rd September 2011

    At the Wartime Housewife we do try to keep our recipes British although the odd dish from the former colonies is sometimes slipped in for variety.

    Re McDonald’s, I visited one for the first time in 1977 in North London and we were given a plate and a knife and fork as they weren’t convinced that the British would consent to eating with their hands. It was a mediocre experience but I wish I’d kept the stationery set I was given with my meal – it’d be worth a fortune now!

    My family’s diet was pretty awful once my grandmother died. We lived on packets and tins and things you mixed with boiling water. Occasionally we would go to a Wimpy after the pictures and it was such a treat because they did about twenty different flavours of milkshake that were thinner and more palatable than McDonalds.

    I love trying new food and will eat anything that casts a shadow but often the joy of eating something exotic is to eat it in its country of origin. Taste becomes part of the memory, along with sounds, smells and sights.

    Now will someone please send me to India for a month or so.


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