I’m going away over Easter, camping in the Brecon Beacons. This is an attempt to guarantee rain. Everyone can thank me next week.
As a result, I’m going to miss St George’s Day. That’s not a huge deal, as I’m not really a tubthumping patriot. England fills me with a more private pride. I love the varied landscape on this big lump of rock we live in, the changing seasons, and our coast. There are loads of other little quirky stuff I love too, like our allotments, and the fruit and veg grown on them.
Which got me thinking, and I thought I’d leave this with you all while I go away: if you were to name one fruit or veg as symbolic of England, what would it be?
While sitting on my plot at the weekend, I ummed and ahhed, and came up with the following:
I’ve yet to meet a grow-your-owner who doesn’t obsess about growing show-stopping parsnips (myself included). Even if we don’t like them, we seem to be hellbent on getting a perfect parsnip.
Christmas dinner just isn’t the same without them, and they are an important part of the time-honoured English roast dinner.
‘Snips flavour also improve with some frost, making a very snug fit without climate.
I’m dead keen on the humble sprout as our St Georges Day veg because us English and our self deprecating humour tend to enjoy liking boring stuff, like trains and family-sized cars.
The sprout is no exception. As kids, we revel in not eating our greens. Then, all of a sudden we have a Hallelujah coming of age moment when we realise that sprouts are significant to us, and they should be on every roast diner.
I wasn’t keen on nicking the potato from the Irish, but the spud is another veg that we can’t do without. Although they’re dirt cheap, and available all year round, we still grow rows and rows of the things on our plots.
Plus they are integral to two of our traditional dishes: who’d have a roast without a roastie, and what other country serves so much fish and chips?
Rhubarb is technically a veg, so I thought I could include it in my list. We enjoy it so much that we’ve found a way to cheat nature, and ‘force’ it through earlier. What’s more, we’re really good at forcing rhubarb; especially in Yorkshire where the ‘Rhubarb Triangle’ has been Protected Designation of Origin status by the European Commission.
However, the winner for me has got to be the delectable asparagus. It’s a real luxury, made even more so by the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it season. Famed for its taste, healthiness, and ability to make your wee smell funny, asparagus is revered all over the country as one of the finest culinary vegetables we grow.
And what could more fitting than a veg whose season officially starts on St Georges Day?
I’m sure there are loads more ideas out there, and no doubt a super vegetable that I’ve overlooked, but these are the ones that get me going.
I’d be delighted to hear what you think!
Have a great Easter.