Sunday 19 June 2011

Losing things of value

Often pleasure can be gained from the simplest of things. A weekend breakfast treat I have enjoyed for most of my life is a soft boiled egg together with, what most people refer to as “soldiers”, but which my mother always called “dip fingers”, that is to say buttered toast, or sometimes bread, cut into finger like strips which can be dipped into the soft yellow yolk.

Personally I find the best results are achieved if you part boil the egg and then coddle it in hot water. To do this I bring the water to the boil, carefully drop the egg in to it, and leave it to to boil at full heat for one minute, before turning the heat off and allowing the egg to rest (coddle) in the hot water for between five and eight minutes depending upon the size of the egg and how runny or not one likes the yoke to be.  For my taste a five minutes and ten second coddle produces a perfect egg, whereas my husband, who I suspect, as a teenager, may have been scared by Edwina Currie prefers a firmer yolk, so his eggs receive a seven minute coddle.

One of the simplest breakfast dishes possible, certainly one of the simplest ways to cook an egg, but one which, for those of us who like eggs, is unfailingly a pleasure to eat.

Boiled eggs are, of course, eaten all over the world, in Singapore, soft boiled eggs are known as “half boiled eggs” but they are eaten in a very different way, tipped out of their shell's into bowls and mixed with Soy sauce.  The Swedish on the other hand cook their eggs until they are hard and serve them with “kalles kaviar” - otherwise known as cod's roe.

However, a boiled egg served in its shell, with the top sliced off, sitting in a china egg cup, and served with buttered toast soldiers strikes one as being quintessentially English. Certainly it is a breakfast dish which has been served to British children, and secretly enjoyed by British adults, for many decades, maybe centuries, and has signified the breaking of the night fast in Britain and in every corner of what was once her Empire for generations.

Egg and soldiers, buttered scones, Yorkshire pudding, crumble, custard roast beef or muffins. The simple pleasure of such simple treats, enjoyed before us by generations of English men and women is something we can share with those who went before us, even if was are no longer permitted to share their certainty of their role within the world or their pride in what we are as a people.

However, much has changed, not only in the way we are required to perceive ourselves, but also in how we view our food.

Although, in recent years, some of the better chefs began to rediscover the forgotten glory of English cuisine, in the last forty years or so it has become fashionable to mock English food and and portray it as amounting to little more than a dried up pork chop served with soggy cabbage and boiled potato. Of course, the reality is in fact very different, even if  we ignore some of the delicious regional dishes which food critics are beginning to revisit and enjoy, but concentrate upon the most derided of British recipes they include some of the most ultimately successful comfort food ever invented.

Created in a world before central heating when for nine months out of twelve a family needed warmth and substance to sustain them, there is little in the world as comforting and appetising as food like Shepard's pie, steak and kidney (or steak and ale if you prefer), rhubarb crumble or bangers and mash.  Such food may now be viewed as “heavy” but in a different time, before cars and sedentary lifestyles, that is what was required, in the same way the more exotic flavours from far away places such as Asia or Mexico were designed to hide the taste of putrid meat, much of British food was designed to get one through a British winter, and were massively successful in doing so.

Traditional British food can be as appetising as any nations, with flavours and ingredients which can easily adapt to a health conscious, centrally heated modern life style, but it is not "cool" to say so.  

Multicultural zealots crow that the British now love curry, the subliminal propaganda in their message being that curry is a benefit only possible due to mass immigration, an assertion which ignores the fact Britain was a nation of tea drinkers for centuries before we thought it necessary to import the half the Indian sub-continent to live amongst us.  Furthermore, do the same fanatics ever suggest that the international popularity of hamburgers and Coca-cola means that America should invade the world?

The denigration of simple English food is but a part of a far larger and more sinister campaign, to downgrade all things traditionally viewed as British, or even European, whilst promoting all things imported.  It is a malevolent campaign which exploits the natural instinct to enjoy the exotic, with the implicit suggestion that the “the other”, the foreign and the exotic is “better”.

When it comes to music, for instance, we are told that music which appeals to the baser instincts is somehow more democratic and less elitist than that which touches other instincts, which are less easy to define.  For centuries European musicians and composers have strived to appeal to the heart and to touch the soul, yet in this age their music has been eclipsed by rhythms which caresses gyrating loins and lyrics which worship the posturing, gangster, aggressions of other cultures.   

Even songs of love are now viewed as being of less value than those which celebrate other emotions.

It is of course easier to teach the lazy and the stupid to enjoy what pleasures their groin rather than their soul, but is it better?

In few areas has beauty been so starkly rejected in favour of ugliness as it has in art. When we look at the great art of our forebears what are the feelings and emotions the images create? Are they similar in any way to the feelings and emotions evoked by paintings made with dung, crucifixes in urine, unmade beds or animal corpses in formaldehyde? I don't think so.

Why is beauty no longer considered appropriate to art?.

The same applies to our architecture. In a thousand years from now will people flock to view the glass, steel and plastic architecture of our age as we still flock to view the great cathedrals of Rome the triumphal Viennese palaces  or the stately homes and castles of England?

Are any of these changes really for the better, and is that really the point? Is the whole purpose to create something new or is the destruction of what went before what its really all about?

Like our heritage, so much within our culture is now actively denied.  Speak of British culture and some baying moron will jump in with some mocking sarcastic quip about morris dancing or cheese rolling.  To hear them speak is as if Tallis and Elgar never existed, as if English choirs never sang as if Shakespeare, Chaucer, Dickens and Austin never wrote and as if haunting folk songs never echoed along our coasts.

To respect other cultures it is not necessary to disrespect or deny our own, but that is what is happening, so maybe respecting other cultures is not the point at all.

The point is to so devalue our culture in our eyes that we will not care what happens to it.  After all, a man will only fight to defend that which he loves whilst he still loves it, if he ceases to love it why would he fight for it? Of course, if he is never taught what he has he will not miss it when its taken from him, and if he's never seen the stars he will never know their beauty and will not care if they cease to be.

You can only miss what you know, or what you can remember.  If I was never allowed another boiled egg on Sunday morning, I would miss them, but if I had never had one I would not know what I missed, and it I was told that they were nasty, why wouldn't I believe it? On a more mundane level if instead of boiling my egg, I had broken it into an omelet and mixed it with fried onions, pepper herbs and spices, it might be nice, but it wouldn't be the same.

That may sound a tiny issue, but there are a million different different experiences, feelings thoughts and objects which come together to create a national identity, we can lose them one by one until we lose them all.  

Our enemies seek to take away what we value by changing how we view it. The louder they play the music the less easy it is to hear the words and the spicier they make our food the less we realise what we are really being fed.

As the music around us gets louder and our food is more exotic, we are told that its better, but it isn't better, its merely different.  However, if it carries on long enough we won't know that any more.


Anonymous said...

Curry was 'invented/discovered' by the British Army during the days of the Raj.

They used the spices to preserve their meat in the sweltering heat i.e. to prevent it from going rancid.

Tikka Masala, Vindaloo etc. have evolved in British Restaurants with no 'origins' from Indian Sub continental ethnics.

That's a myth!

misterfox said...

Ezra Mishan in The Costs of Economic Growth showed how the Liberal attitude was destroying our environment. I have always rated P.T.Baur and Ezra Mishan. Baur, destroyed the liberal arguments for overseas aid, Mishan the arguments for Economic Growth and that immigration boosts the economy.

Anonymous said...

Ezra Mishan - a very English name hmmm

Anonymous said...

Very true indeed.

misterfox said...

The problem is "Anonymous" our people are not producing the arguments. They are all asleep, it seems. For those of us who are trying to we have to take it from where we can or there would be nothing.

Dr.D said...

Sarah, I agree with your general point, but I don't think I will join you for Sunday morning breakfast, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Music once brought people together, but now it separates them. Not only is it divisive, but it is also invasive, now nearly ubiquitous and, even when it is no longer audible, fastens on to the memory, where it plays over and over with alienating malice.

It is the strangest thing that, after a lifetime of devotion to music, and to the cause of high-fidelity, I find that I no longer like music. A “song” is not so much a piece of music as an artefact of industrial civilisation, thoroughly exploited already by the time you hear it, as any musician will attest, and primed to exploit you, financially, and through that aspect of your consciousness that is moved by music. If you must have music, I encourage you to get it illegally. With any luck, you will bring the entire tottering edifice down. Joni Mitchell will thank you. Jews will try to sue you.

Take a look at the comments on YouTube on music from the 1960s or 1970s, and see how widespread is the regret that music isn't made like that any more. Well, of course it isn't! Because the cultural conditions that made such music possible no longer exists. And what sort of cultural conditions were they? To my mind, it was the point at which rigid, conservative cultural norms gave way to freer but less demanding expectations. The grim irony, of course, is that the discipline and exacting standards of the previous generation was what made the Mamas and the Papas or Led Zeppelin possible. Once that had run its course, there were no more Brill Buildings or any other hothouses where people had been trained. It is not just death by folk; early doom metal was at least archetypally coherent.

So it turns out that the flowering of popular music that is able to stir our deepest longings and turns out to be a cause of nostalgia in very young people was a one-shot deal: it was the product of a collision between a dying conservative world order and a younger generation whose world was warmed and lighted and uplifted by fossil-fuel-burning post-war prosperity.

Jazzie said...

If you think life is bad now, how would you like to be an egg? You only get laid once. You get eaten once. It takes for minutes to get hard, only to minutes to get soft. You share your box with 11 other guys, but worst of all, the only chick that ever sat on top of you was your mom! So cheer up, your life isnt that bad!

Anonymous said...

I love soft boiled eggs. If you order them in the US, you will get a dirty look from the waiter/waitress. It is too much trouble for them, so I make them at home. Thanks for the tip about the bread. Just made one this morning following your directions:)

The Watcher On The Wall said...

"Britain as a political society exhibits the characteristics of a dying or dead organism. It does not respond to threats to its existence or to attacks on its body. It just lies there, while its destroyers—the political class and the flood of immigrants—keep eating away at what remains."
Lawrence Auster, View From The Right

Paul Weston said...

A wonderful article.

Exzanian said...

Great article! I do love my toast fingers dipped in soft boiled egg (esp with marmite) but when it comes to exotic foods I love it all, I'm not fussy. Perhaps food is the one thing that can cross the cultural divide?

But I do insist on parting company with you if you offer me mopani worms...

Unknown said...

It is Jane Austen not Austin

Unknown said...

Just to point out, that comment was actually posted by my English Degree-qualified fiancée, who takes the English language and its abuses very seriously, as well as being a fan of "Jane Austin".