Okay, so those who know me in life know that I talk about the fact that I have an MSc in Archaeology from the University of Edinburgh. (I'm both brilliant and modest that way.) However, I didn't spend all my time in the UK drinking myself silly and learning about the built environment of workingclass England. I also spent a lot of time in the kitchen of my Edinburgh student rooming house, drinking myself silly and learning about the European approach to food.
I already knew about the Asian approach to food. During my undergraduate years at UMass Lowell my roommate Truc and I set up an illegal hot plate in our dorm room and she taught me to cook Vietnamese food. However, that is a story for another time. Suffice to say that I was already familiar with the idea that, to every other culture in the world, most of the time, cooking and eating have a wonderfully slow-paced sense of ritual about them. I've never really seen it done much in my part of the US, but when I've been in other countries people gather in kitchens, not only for special occasions but for every meal, to cut up fresh ingredients cook and talk and bond. Some of the best times I ever had were in the kitchen of my rooming house in Edinburgh, talking about culture and politics, and, for some reason, Poland.
However, being a poor student, a busy student and a lazy American cook, I mostly stuck to making sandwiches based on what I saw the other students eating and what I saw on telly.
Here, finally, are two of my favorite British sandwiches:
Pub Pickle and Cheese
2 slices toasted white bread (I had a hard time finding wheat bread in Edinburgh, strangely enough)
2 slices cheddar or Red Leicester cheese
Branston's Pub Pickle to taste (do NOT use American-style pickle, pub pickle is a totally different animal, you can get it in the specialty aisle of just about any big chain grocery store)
Assemble sandwich. Consume while hurriedly studying Man Makes Himself for your Archaeolgical Theory paper.
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
2 slices white bread
Assemble sandwich. Consume while leisurely reading Hello! magazine. (Paper? What paper?)