My Book: Food Britannia

food britannia book

It’s not all doom and gloom: there is much deliciousness in the British Isles. You just have to find it, which brilliantly Andrew Webb has done for us. A splendid book.

Particularly good are the descriptions of tastes and textures. Webb is clearly a messy eater, scattering flakes and crumbs wherever he goes. He’s probably horrible to watch in real life, but on paper he’s delicious. When he talks about figit pie or bara brith it’s a stern reader that doesn’t find herself overtaken by a bout of empathetic dribbling.

Andrew Webb seeks out all that is virtuous, venerable and valuable in food production, finds the human story and creates a narrative that is voyeuristic without being invasive and informative without being scholarly.

Andrew proves the future of British food should be an exciting one’ – Cumbria Magazine, December 2011

‘An upbeat and “beguiling” account of Britain’s “food soul”, it’s a travelogue, guidebook and “love song” to British food rolled into one’ – The Week, December 2011

‘Brilliant’ – Stella Magazine

‘Entertaining’ – BBC Good Food, October 2011

‘A must for lovers of British food’ – Food and Travel Magazine

‘Not to be confused with a traditional recipe book, it leaves your mouth watering nevertheless’ – Good Book Guide, September 2011

‘As well as celebrating our food heritage, Andrew proves that the future of British food should be an exciting and intriguing one’ – The Countryman

‘Andrew Webb’s Food Britannia just kind of sucks you in’ – Irish News, June 2011

‘Definitely a book every self-confessed foodie needs on their shelf, and in their boot’ – Leader, July 2011

‘If you follow all of Webb’s mouth-watering suggestions, all you’ll need to pack is one pair of stretchy pants and a satnav’ – Leader, July 2011

‘A fantastic resource’ – Great British Food, July 2011

‘Good for browsing at home’ – Leslie Geddes Brown, Country Life, July 2011

‘Delightful’ – Jonathan Wright, Geographical Magazine, August 2011

‘You’ll enjoy this book’ – Jonathan Wright, Geographical Magazine, August 2011

‘A passionate, well-informed guided tour through the glories of local British food’ – Jonathan Wright, Geographical Magazine, August 2011

I spent much of 2010 writing my book – Food Britannia. It is quite possibly the hardest but most enjoyable thing I have ever done.

Here’s the blurb

British food has not traditionally been regarded as one of the world’s great cuisines, and yet Stilton cheese, Scottish raspberries, Goosnargh duck and Welsh lamb are internationally renowned and celebrated. And then there are all those dishes and recipes that inspire passionate loyalty among the initiated: Whitby lemon buns and banoffi pie, for example; pan haggerty and Henderson’s relish. All are as integral a part of the country’s landscape as green fields, rolling hills and rocky coastline.

In Food Britannia, Andrew Webb travels the country to bring together a treasury of regional dishes, traditional recipes, outstanding ingredients and heroic local producers. He investigates the history of saffron farming in the UK, tastes the first whisky to be produced in Wales for one hundred years, and tracks down the New Forest’s foremost expert on wild mushrooms. And along the way, he uncovers some historical surprises about our national cuisine. Did you know, for example, that the method for making clotted cream, that stalwart of the cream tea, was probably introduced from the Middle East? Or that our very own fish and chips may have started life as a Jewish-Portuguese dish? Or that Alfred Bird invented his famous custard powder because his wife couldn’t eat eggs?

The result is a rich and kaleidoscopic survey of a remarkably vibrant food scene, steeped in history but full of fresh ideas for the future: proof, if proof were needed, that British food has come of age.