One of the first times we visited our daughter and son-in-law, we spent a fair bit of time in absolute delight at the Borough Market, which was near their flat at that time. We loved wandering around the various stalls—in fact, I wrote about thatexperience. The smells, the sights, the absolute sensual overload.On our most recent trip, I went grocery shopping with our son-in-law. Our mission—procure all the ingredients for a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch New Year’s Day dinner: pork loin roast, potatoes, sauerkraut and applesauce. The large grocery store we went in had lovely pork roasts, including some from free range pigs. Really? Thinking about shopping for meats in my local U.S. grocery store, I do not routinely find free range meats.
And as for potatoes. Well! I did recall the Borough Market shopping experience where the vegetable arrays were an absolute feast for the eyes, with at least 10 different kinds of POTATOES. Once again, the choices were far larger than I would find in a typical U.S. grocery store. In the U.S., I might have a choice of ordinary white potatoes, yellow potatoes, redskin potatoes and baking potatoes.
In London, in a large grocery store, my choices were: “essential” potatoes, “essential” baking potatoes, organic potatoes, organic NEW potatoes, baby potatoes, Maris Piper potatoes, King Edward potatoes, McCain roasting potatoes, Red Desiree potatoes, Charlotte potatoes, Carlingford small new potatoes, Roseval potatoes and fingerling potatoes. All of these were the FRESH potatoes.
Our shopping trip was successful—true, we had to go to two different grocery stores to get all the items. The large grocery store was OUT of sauerkraut. But, once we went to a grocery that stocked “American” goods, we got the sauerkraut AND the applesauce.
Our New Year’s Day meal was a success. And my admiration is great for the dedication of English grocers, small and large, whether in supermarket grocery store or open-air market, to stocking a full array of marvelous foods.
Next time someone scoffs at English cuisine—I might just say “it is far better than you know.” Why, in the U.S., you can only find a few kinds of potatoes. And no small potatoes!
Note the dish with mashed potatoes in the foreground.