Show me a restaurant and I’ll give you a glimpse of Britain in miniature | Restaurants

yOissi Molino, who died last month at the age of 91, has lived a full and rich life. She was one of Britain’s first female chefs to win (in 1978) a Michelin star and anyone who has been fortunate enough to dine at Carved Angel in Dartmouth in the 25 years she has run their kitchen will undoubtedly remember her pioneering approach with local ingredients and her kindness both when using the stove Or with those who worked in the room for it. As for those who are unlucky, they should make do with it Angel carved cookbook, which sold 50,000 copies when it was first published in 1990—and with absolutely no help from a TV series. It tells you everything you need to know that a used copy will set you back around £200.

I read the obituary hungry. Partly because I have fond memories of a day I spent with her in 2017 (I was meeting her for the Lifetime Achievement award she would have gotten from her). Monthly Food Monitor; I made a delicious summer pudding for lunch). But for me, her career is also fascinating, as she skillfully tells the story of Britain and its food in the second half of the twentieth century. To take just one example, Molino’s first job after leaving the local college of science was not in a restaurant, but in the canteen at W Canning & Co, a Birmingham-based manufacturer of electroplating machines, where she was expected to make “special” things like roast chicken For bosses, and to serve pancakes – and fish and chips – to workers.

What a world in that sentence! In 2022, the average working canteen—if it ever existed—serves a diet consisting only of sandwiches, chips, and Kit Kat, which is why they are unlikely to be fed to those with serious ambitions in the direction of chicken parfait and choux pastry. But the W Canning & Co canteen, as Molyneux described it, was an entirely different beast. Here is post-war Britain in a microcosm: highly industrialized, somewhat patriarchal, and somewhat rigidly divided according to social class; A place where chicken was still a pleasure, and where lunch (except that it was often called dinner) was eaten with a knife and fork on a table rather than hopping into a coffee shop or at the desk. No wonder Molino’s cooking, when I graduated to restaurant work, always had a modest democratic slant.

I often said it. Restaurants are Britain in microcosm, whether we’re talking about the open kitchen at Carved Angel – a novelty of its day, but one that would reflect the slow death of a suburban dining room – or a multi-decade acceleration, about the wild scenes that greeted me last week at a chain restaurant. Popular for pizza in a big northern city, where an understaffed manager made the difficult decision not to clear any tables until the queue of customers on a Saturday night was dealt with. Staring at the scenes of destruction all around—the long tables next to us, piled with tattered napkins and stained glasses, I felt a distinct winter of dissatisfaction—I began to feel like I was looking at an art installation: a vision of Brexit as designed by, on Example, Jake and Dinos Chapman. All it needed to be a prize in the Turner Prize was a little EU flag planted in a pile of margarita husks and maybe a toy soldier like Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Two days later we found ourselves, for complicated reasons, in the “fine dining” restaurant of a flashy Lakeland hotel and once again a miniature feeling crept into me. If a lot of people in Britain are struggling, it seems that many are still enjoying themselves, as Larry is happy to pay for tasting menus and wine excursions. to listen to long lectures on each dish; And to eat more than they need, or even really want to. The place had the last days of the atmosphere of Rome, the oblivion that was, in my eyes, more appetizing than the dead pizza 48 hours before. Like two Quakers who grew up unexpectedly in a branch of Paddy Power, we ordered a la carte, insisted on tap water and talked, about warm sourdough and whipped butter, about how things had changed: sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

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