Rules: oldest restaurant in London, serving traditional British food

Rules was established by Thomas Rule in 1798 making it the oldest restaurant in London. It serves traditional British food, specialising in classic game.

Source: Oldest restaurant in London. It serves traditional British food.

Rules restaurant, at 35 Maiden Lane, Convent Garden, London, “serves the traditional food of this country at its best – and at affordable prices. It specialises in classic game cookery, oysters, pies and puddings.” I must confess, their version of “affordable” is not exactly mine (a situation often the case here in the U.S., as well), but I would nonetheless love to go there!

The website notes,

“Rules is a heritage restaurant. There is a demand for the best in life as we are confronted with so much mediocrity. In an age when everyone is deluged with homogeneous brands, we like to create the special. There is a real unfulfilled need and desire to experience it.”

With that, I cannot disagree!

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Fried Chicken In The 18th Century? 300 Year old Recipe | Townsend

An old English recipe from Nathan Bailey’s 1736 cookbook, “Dictionarium Domesticum,” courtesy of Jas. Townsend & Sons. Sounds tasty!

A day in the life of an English “Bobby” (policeman) in 1959 – ah, the good ol’ days!

One year ago today, British & Commonwealth Forces posted this lovely video on their Facebook page, with the following commentary:

The British Policeman (1959) – a Public Information Film produced for the Colonial Office.

This portrait of a British Policeman was commissioned by the Colonial Office to promote Britain’s Police Service to the colonies and Commonwealth states.

Released in 1959, this film upholds one of the Central Office of Information’s (COI) founding principles and the reason for its commitment to producing Public Information Films. In December 1945 the incumbent Prime Minister Clement Attlee stated it was important “a true and adequate picture of British institutions and the British way of life should be presented overseas” through such films.

Following a ‘typical’ day in the life of Police Constable Jack Edwards, the film shows his ‘typical’ duties over an eight-hour shift. The film portrayal of PC Edwards as a guardian of law and order in 1950s Britain, understandably looks dated, when compared to today’s modern Police Service.

This film made available courtesy the UK National Archives.

How times have changed – and not particularly for the better, either!

Nota Bene: Why are British policemen known as “Bobbies”? Why, ’tis an affectionate and respectful nod to Sir Robert Peel, their founder:

“The concept of modern policing has its roots in pre-Victorian England, when the British home minister, Sir Robert Peel (1778-1850), oversaw the creation of London’s first organized police force. Before Peel’s 1829 reforms, public order had been maintained by a mix of night watchmen, local constables and red-coat-wearing army soldiers, who were deployed as much to quell political troubles as to deal with local crime.

“In creating London’s Metropolitan Police (headquartered on a short street called Scotland Yard), Peel sought to create a professionalized law enforcement corps that was as accountable to everyday citizens as to the ruling classes. When Peel’s opponents complained that the creation of the new police force would restrict personal liberties, Peel responded, ‘I want to teach people that liberty does not consist in having your house robbed by organized gangs of thieves, and in leaving the principal streets of London in the nightly possession of drunken women and vagabonds.’

“Instead of the resented red coats, Peel’s patrolmen wore black jackets and tall wool hats with shiny badges. They went out armed only with a short club and a whistle for summoning backup, walking regular beats and working to gain the trust of the local citizens. Robert Peel’s system was a success, and by the mid-19th century large American cities had created similar police forces. In London, the policemen were so identified with the politician who created them that they were referred to as ‘Peelers’ or—more memorably—’Bobbies,’ after the popular nickname for Robert.”

A Brief History of the Great British Sunday Roast

Sunday Roast

Source: A Brief History of the Great British Sunday Roast

When mighty Roast Beef was the Englishman’s food,
It ennobled our brains and enriched our blood.
Our soldiers were brave, and our courtiers were good
Oh! The Roast Beef of old England,
And old English Roast Beef!

— “The Roast Beef of Old England,” by Henry Fielding (1731)

I’m a bit late in the day for this week, but perhaps some inspiration for next Sunday…?

“The British love of beef, and particularly for lunch on a Sunday, is nothing new, as it is such a part of the national identity, that even the French call us ‘rosbifs’ (roast beef). The Sunday Roast came to prominence during the reign of King Henry VII in 1485 and the Yeoman of the Guard – the royal bodyguard – have affectionately been known as ‘beefeaters’ since the 15th century because of their love of eating roast beef.”

Read on for more! See also How to Cook the Perfect Sunday Roast, these Tips and Recipes for Cooking the Roast Beef, and of course, this guide to cooking the Traditional Yorkshire Pudding that is the classic accompaniment to the Sunday roast.

My own dear late mother cooked a roast of beef, with most of the traditional accompaniments (sans Yorkshire pudding), for midday dinner every Sunday through most of my childhood and into young adulthood. It was such a fixture that one of my brother’s girlfriends was once reported as asking, “Does she know how to cook anything else?” – since she only came over for dinner on Sundays, and of course, that was what was on the menu!

Ma’s version was of the “pot-roast” variety – the beef, potatoes, onions, carrots, and sometimes celery were cooked in the pressure-cooker, while we were at church, rather than in the oven, and she served it with “essence” (what the French would call au jus), rather than gravy – but for all that, it was nonetheless a continuation of the old tradition, and one I must say I rather miss.

The classic Ploughman’s Lunch: a how-to, from the UK’s “The Guardian”

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How To Eat is in a country pub trying to enjoy a ploughman’s lunch. But an argument is raging…

Source: How to eat: a ploughman’s lunch | Food | The Guardian

“This month, How To Eat is in a country pub trying to enjoy a ploughman’s lunch. But an argument is raging about what that means. Ham? One cheese or three? Is pate OK? Are pickled onions edible? Is this a sharing dish or best enjoyed solo?”

And here I had always thought that a “ploughman’s lunch” was the soul of simplicity: a thick slice of bread, a wedge of cheese, and a pickled onion, with a pint of ale! Who knew that there was this much controversy…? But there is, seemingly. To begin with,

“Pedants will take great pleasure in pointing out that this ‘classic’ was only actually given a name and a PR push in the 1960s, by the Milk Marketing Board; but people, including some ploughmen, had been eating bread and cheese with beer for aeons. Therefore, no matter how it has been glossed, this stands as a much-loved British meal, and one which people feel passionately about.”

Indeed! I would venture to guess that this was probably one of the most common, if not the most common, midday meals for working people in the countryside at least back to the Middle Ages, and probably beyond – so long a bread, cheese, and beer existed!

Bread and aged, hard cheese have the inestimable advantages of being easily portable, keeping well, and being relatively resistant to being dropped and knocked about; they also provide a good balance of protein and carbohydrates, to keep a person’s energy levels up whilst working in the fields.

And of course beer has been ubiquitous at least since the Sumerians… in fact, it’s been argued that grains may have been used for beer-making even before bread-making, making the brewing of beer the foundation of civilization!

Bread and cheese are similarly ancient: bread is now thought to possibly predate agriculture itself; while the first solid cheese dates back at least to the 13th century B.C., while “the earliest evidence of cheese-making in the archaeological record dates back to 5500 BCE, in what is now Kujawy, Poland, where strainers with milk fats molecules have been found.”

It doesn’t take the proverbial rocket scientist to imagine our forebears quickly realizing that these are (if I may adapt from an old advertising jingle) “three great tastes that taste great together”! And of course, the mildly intoxicating qualities of beer may have helped to ease the pain and stiffness of muscles strained by hard work in the field.

But now, back to Britain and the Ploughman’s Lunch: “How to Eat” includes these minimal components of the meal: “Bread, cheese, ham and some sort of pickled dimension. Traditionalists may question the necessity of ham, but without it this is just bread ‘n’ cheese, not a ploughman’s.” Call me a traditionalist (for I am, in many ways), but I was surprised to see ham in there!

No objection, mind you, from a culinary perspective. But I do wonder how authentically “ploughman’s” that is: unlike the bread, cheese, and beer, ham is more inclined to go “off” (spoil) in the hot sun. But if one is enjoying in the cool of the local pub, then by all means! I’m never one to refuse cured pig flesh… At least they are cautious to warn that the ham in question “should be baked, thick-cut, ‘proper’ pig, no limp, wet boiled ham” or “thin, pallid, suspiciously uniform slices.” Hear, hear!

At any rate, read the article for more mouth-watering suggestions for taking this meal from a convenient, if unassuming, packet for a ploughman’s satchel to a culinary experience of high degree. Whether you limit it to bread, beer, cheese, and something pickled – with maybe an apple thrown in – to include boiled eggs or a slice of cold pork pie, watercress, radishes, or celery, and possibly even a “dessert” of fruit bread, it’s a sturdy, filling, and flavorful meal for anyone: not just an authentic ploughman!

Heat Wave Reveals Hidden Archaeological Sites Across England (Photos) | The Weather Channel

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Hot, dry conditions this summer in England have revealed mysterious Stone Age ceremonial monuments, Iron Age settlements, burial mounds and a Roman farm.

Source: Heat Wave Reveals Hidden Archaeological Sites Across England (Photos) | The Weather Channel

This is fascinating!

“A scorching heat wave that has left much of the English countryside dusty and brown has also uncovered parts of the country’s past that have been buried for millennia.

“Archaeologists have been flying over the parched landscape this summer looking for patterns in the fields. As the soil dried out , ‘mysterious Neolithic ceremonial monuments, Iron Age settlements, square barrows and a Roman farm’ have become visible, Historic England said in a news release this week.”

Follow the link for more information, and/or see this Guardian article.