On this day in 1770 the first shipment of rhubarb was sent to the USA from London. Our sumptuous and infamous rhubarb along with (eventually) the apple pie was making its way west to the almighty America.
I began to think of iconic food; and how certain fare has become a symbol for its country. Here is my list of comestibles but if you can think of more feel free to add them in the comment box.
The classic ruby-red rhubarb is synonymous with Britain and fused to our culture through a variety of delicious dishes. We have rhubarb crumble, pie, rhubarb jam and the celebrated sweeties, rhubarb and custards. The plant is making a colossal come back with chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall encouraging us to cook and buy British produce.
This is a rich but light indulgent dessert combing coffee, ladyfingers, eggs, mascarpone, cocoa and plenty of Marsala wine. The translation of its name means, ‘pick-me-up’ (e.g. make me happy) perhaps either referring to the espresso used in it or, my theory, the glee you experience from consuming copious amounts of cream!
From the whitewash, baked streets of Andalucía comes the chilled tomato soup: gazpacho. On a blistering day in southern Spain there is not much better than a bowl of this ice-cold savory soup, however it can be an acquired taste. There are many modern versions of gazpacho, which omit the tomatoes and use a base of avocados, cucumber or watermelons instead.
Tarte Tatin: France
This upside down, caramelized; buttery tart is synonymous with French cuisine. There is substantial evidence pointing to its creation, as an accident, in the Hotel Tatin 100 miles from Paris. I wish my culinary accidents resulted in mouthwatering desserts and not singed slices of unrecognisable food.
This rich, syrupy pastry constructed from layers of filo crammed with nuts and honey is an ancient and traditional recipe found in many countries including Turkey. For me, the yummiest version of this classic is the sticky, pistachio baklava served with kaymak.
Oranges: California and Florida
Who doesn’t love orange juice at breakfast? Even if you hate fruit I’m sure you’re still partial to the occasional glass of sweet orange. The incessant Tropicana adverts are a solid reminder of the orange as a symbol for Florida.
As one of the meatiest countries, Argentina is world-renowned for their juicy steaks and cuts of sizzling meat. It will come as no surprise that Argentina has the world’s second highest consumption rate of beef, at around 55kg per head, per year!
Mexican food is all about taste sensations; with their abundance of chili, garlic and lime juice used in most dishes. I love all Mexican grub and the best is often found at the local street markets; quesadillas, tortillas, tamales, refried beans, they serve it all, piping hot and fresh. Guacamole is both cooling and piquant and goes perfectly with any snack. This avocado based dip originated with the Aztecs in Mexico.
These beautiful and delectable bit size pieces of sweet rolled rice and tangy fish have become an emblem of Japanese cuisine and character. You can find quality sushi bars up and down the country, but don’t stop there; the rest of Japanese food is just as good so explore a little more of the menu.