English Roast for the Birthday Boy

There is something very special about a proper English sunday roast dinner that no other country in the world seems to be able to match in quite the same way and certainly no one else obsesses over it like we do. The incredible flavour of Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding is unique and on cold wintery Sundays, obligatory.

This Sunday is no exception. I'm almost fully recovered from yesterday's golf and the evening entertainment that goes along with it. It's hard not to get in a drunken stupor on those occasions, not least because we have a kind of kangaroo court, which is really more of an excessive to "Thank" the organiser of the day by giving them plenty of drinks under the ruse of telling them they've done a rubbish job.

For example, there is a fixed rule that no mobile phones are to be used in the clubhouse. So when our organiser is checking his calculations of the costs for the day on his calculator, well that's a charge because he's using his phone. The punishment being 'two fingers of a pint' or about an inch and a half in old money. All seems perfectly reasonable, until you realise that the organiser seems to get an inordinate amount of charges and ends up drinking about 4 pints in the space of an hour.

Believe me, this is a much calmer situation that our court sessions used to be, when the bar was literally filled with shot glasses of all sorts of rubbish. Luckily we're all a little older, if not wiser now and pints are so much more mature than shots..... we tell ourselves.

Regardless of my condition this morning though, the correct English method for enjoying a swift and speedy cure to the hangover is the great British Sunday roast dinner and what better way to help Golfyball Sr celebrate his 405th (See Friday's post) than with a slap up meal at Mrs Miggin's Pie Shop or a Toby Carvery Sunday Roast. You really can't go wrong.

Sunday roast is the perfect traditional English food and is so ingrained into our national identity that the French even refer to us as les rosbifs. All across the country on a Sunday families sit down to re-enact the role of the 15th century bodyguards to king Henry VII. Not so much the beating up of the peasants or protecting the crown, more of the eating of the beef which led to them being called beefeaters.... Obviously.

Early Victorian London saw the establishment of cookshops and butchers' shops which just cemented our relationship with British Beef. Christmas wasn't Christmas without it even if you were working for Mr Scrooge. Turkey was good too, but you knew where you were with a joint of British Beef.

And then, the rumours started. There's something wrong with beef. The cows are going mad. The problem began, many believe, when feed containing infected sheep remains was fed to cattle as a protein supplement; farmers were supposed to dispose of the infected feed, but some of them undoubtedly used up their remaining stock.

In May 1990, John Selwyn Gummer, the Conservative government's Minister of Agriculture, attempted to demonstrate the safety of British beef by feeding a hamburger to his daughter. Six years later, on the morning of March 18, 1996, John Major, then Prime Minister of the UK, was presented with a memo from the Health and Agriculture Ministers confirming a link between bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle and Creutzfeldt- Jakob disease (CJD) in humans. The British Beef market collapsed.

By the end of March, the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, announced a worldwide ban on the export of British beef products . Britain was angered by the ban and threatened to retaliate by crippling EU business. Three years later, the strain on the EU was worsened by France's refusal to lift its ban even after the European Commission decided to rescind its sanctions on British beef. It was a bloody mess.

Laws have been established. Methods of farming modified and improved. Today, the picture of British Beef is safer than it ever has been before. And thank god for that. Of course CJD still exists and it's a terrible debilitating disease, but it's not in the British herd anymore so beefeaters of England rejoice and take your old man to the pub for Sunday Lunch with all the trimmings.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous