World Chefs: Say Cheese pop-up plays with notions of English food

Tue Mar 25, 2014 4:05am EDT
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By Simon Falush

LONDON (Reuters) - Ellen Parr's photographer father Martin is famous for a 1995 book that showed British food for what it was - greasy, heavy, unhealthy and, more often than not, fried.

Now, at a pop-up restaurant in a community hall in east London, Ellen Parr and partner Alice Hodge are serving dishes that may resemble the food Parr's father so graphically portrayed in "British Food". But they are given a few twists to make them healthier, more international and trendier.

Served at communal tables, the dishes at the Say Cheese pop up play with conventions of Englishness.

The meal starts with three humble radishes - the stalwarts of British allotments, or communal vegetable patches - served on a doily.

This is followed by a more conventional selection of raw vegetable crudites served with taramosalata and anchovy sauce.

The quintessential English scone with jam and clotted cream gets an international twist: The cake is infused with cumin and topped with labneh, a type of goats-milk yoghurt and served on a plate hand painted by co-chef Hodge.

A spicy Thai beef and coconut Massaman-style broth is served into china teacups from a teapot clothed in a tea-cosy, a distinctly British covering used to keep the tea piping hot.

Chicken roasted with vermouth comes with spring greens. It is served in an unassuming foil container, typically used for Chinese takeaways, but the quality of ingredients and depth of flavor makes the dish anything but ordinary.   Continued...