Huffpost Taste
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Christine Hayes Headshot

Back to the Future for the UK Food Scene

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

In the past decade we have witnessed a period of profound change in the UK food scene. From the diversity of what we eat to seeking out great-value whether cooking at home or eating out our food culture has developed at a break neck pace.

Ten years ago our favourite cook was Delia. We loved her faultless recipes, her brilliantly clear, step-by-step instructions and the new ingredients she introduced us to - many of us hadn't heard of crème fraiche, or cumin or Maldon sea salt before Delia taught us how to use them. Now we confidently get to grips with a wide variety of ingredients we'd barely heard of in the early noughties. It seems almost unbelievable, but our 10th anniversary poll identified chorizo and sweet chilli sauce as two fridge staples that we'd barely heard of ten years ago.

Today we have swagger in the kitchen. We appreciate the instinctive flair of Nigel Slater, named the favourite cook in the same poll. Slater's relaxed cooking style and the seasonal, straight-from-the-garden, food he champions chimes with our increased desire to use ingredients when they are at their best. The poll found the availability of locally produced, seasonal ingredients was the thing we most like about the modern food scene. We want to get our hands dirty and mess up the kitchen by cooking from scratch, so much so that we are now keener cooks than the French.

An enthusiasm for cooking has also been accompanied by a keenness to seek out good value. Sales of champagne are one of the best barometers of the wider economy. We spent more and more on champagne until 2007. Then the credit crunch hit, we reigned it in, got briefly optimistic in 2010, then moderated slightly when we realised that, as our government informed us, there was no quick solution to the economic crisis. Now prosecco has replaced champagne as our choice of fizz.

The recession has necessitated a change in attitude towards 'waste not want' rather than 'want it and want it now', a welcome trend I hope will stick. Baking has of course been a massive new trend, witness the nine million plus viewers tuning into the Great British Bake Off, with people seeking comfort foods in tough times and looks set to stay.

Others have proved more flighty. Molecular gastronomy was the hottest trend just a few years ago, but now has been identified as the most annoying of the past decade.

Most of all we're embracing a new pride in British cooking, happily recreating childhood classics such as pies and stews and puddings, this time round with better, carefully-sourced ingredients. We are even transforming pub snacks into gastronomic delights - ten years ago, we might have snaffled one in private, but now we are pleased to champion the return of the scotch egg. Back to the future.

Around the Web

British Street Food Because 'Good Grub Should Be For Everyone ...

Food bloggers to follow in 2013 | Square Meal Feature

Scandinavian food: Why is it becoming popular in the UK? - BBC

UK Food Bloggers Association

Five of the best...London street food spots | ELLE UK

Birmingham food scene is rated 'first class'

Spanish eatery in Old Town takes 'Best in England' title

The new foodopolis