A recent article on Facebook, ‘The Plant Guide’, by another blogger, came up with a few surprises when I read it. I realised how much we take for granted when we sow, what to us are common seeds. However, it doesn’t answer the question of what vegetables are indigenous to Great Britain?
This is a difficult question to answer as there is an assumption that ancient Brits. ate meat alone. We are fortunate that even centuries ago, world travellers had the foresight to bring fruit and vegetables back from their voyages, to liven a fairly boring, uninteresting diet. There would most likely be some herbs around and it has been a suggestion that even more ancient Brits. ate vegetation before they discovered meat. Our molars tell us we are designed to be carnivores and the absence of fruit and vegetables would leave vegans and vegetarians with a bit of a problem. I have not researched this fact and since it does not affect me in the slightest, my interest is more what’s on today’s menu.
Apparently, according to the plant guide, we have to be grateful to South America and Asia for many of our favourite fruits and vegetables. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, beans and squashes are amongst the South American produce where the leafy greens are more Asian in origin. It is a bit sad that none of the land’s most favourite produce actually originated in this little island. So we are eternally grateful to Sir Francis Drake, who is attributed to bringing potatoes back from one of his voyages. Without that, where would we be without the chips to accompany our fish? There are some differences in meaning of the potato chip, in the UK, it is thickly cut and deep fried, thin chips however are known as ‘French fries’ and the American chip, we know as crisps.
The English traditional Sunday roast and the Irish stew are delicious meals of meat and both include our adopted vegetables, but it still doesn’t answer what vegetables are truly British.
The Welsh will probably claim rights to their national emblem, the leek.
The Scots have grain, so plenty of porridge. Samuel Johnston (an English author) once remarked to James Boswell, a Scottish lawyer and diarist, “In England we wouldn’t think of eating oats. We only feed them to Horses. “To which Boswell’s reply was, “Well, maybe that’s why in England you have better horses, and in Scotland we have better men.”
Scottish whisky on the other hand, is difficult to make elsewhere as the quality of the water has a lot to do with it. Water is something we Scots are not short of, and in fact much more of it and we will be able to grow our own rice as the wheat fields slowly turn into paddy fields.
Why not visit my other blog Grannysattic
World map thanks to Kayaken
Fish & chip image by Firkin