Becoming British

Ever since I moved to this country, I’ve started doing things without being exactly sure why I do them. One of them is stopping for a chat when I run into someone that I don’t particularly like. I’m puzzled by my own strange behaviour. I’m hardly a social animal and in most cases it would be just as easy to walk on after saying ‘hello’, especially if the other person makes no obvious move to engage me in conversation. I described my strange social conduct to my best friend, who is Scottish and therefore knows more about the mores of this country than I do.

“It’s called politeness,” she said with the face of a doctor who is reassuring a patient about an ugly looking, but totally harmless rash. “It’s really British and the longer you live here, the worse it’ll get.”

I was shocked. “No! No!”, I stammered, “It can’t be, I’m European! I’m from the mainland!” She pulled the doctor’s face again, this time telling the patient that for previously mentioned rash, there is no cure. “I’m afraid there’s no escaping it. These things cling to your heart and grow on you like a cancer. You’re becoming British. Before you know it you’ll be washing your hands religiously and queueing in an orderly fashion for just about anything. But you’ve been here for four years now, it’s to be expected. Haven’t you noticed any other changes?”

Actually, I have. I now eat eggs with HP sauce. I now drink my tea with a dash of milk, no sugar. I now drink beer in pints at the same speed as I’d drink a 33cl back home. I now call dinner ‘my tea’ (as in “I think I’ll head home for my tea shortly.”.) And I have long ago yielded to the baked potato, that staple of staples, that most British dish of them all, that ubiquitous, ghastly, but at the same time delightful lunch option.

But I feel the need to prove how European I am, so we’re not going to fill it with tuna-mayo, or with boiled egg, or with grated cheddar, or, God forbid, with baked beans (which toppings, in all honesty, I still find offensive to almost all of my senses, British or not). We’re going to fill it with weird and healthy stuff. Baked potato with goat’s cheese and green asparagus! Tell me I’m becoming British one more time. I dare you.

For two you will need:

  • 2 big baking potatoes, or 4 littler ones (which is what I did, for lack of massive mutant tatties)
  • about 100 gr of good, full fat, unsweetened Greek yoghurt (I used Total, a little tub)
  • about 125 gr of a soft, but strong goat’s cheese
  • a red onion
  • 12 green asparagus
  • some balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Also, you’ll need some tin foil for the preparation.

Wash the potatoes and dry them well. Use a fork to poke holes in them, spread out evenly around the potato. Wrap them individually in tin foil and pop them in a preheated oven (200°C) for at least an hour (but this depends on the size of your potatoes: bigger ones might need an hour and 15).

Slice rings out of the onion and fry them gently in some olive oil. Keep the heat low-medium. Once they’ve gone soft, turn up the heat and add a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar. Stir occasionally and take off the heat once the vinegar has evaporated/been soaked up completely.

Take the ends off the asparagus and boil the stalks in water with plenty of salt for about 5 minutes.

Mix the yoghurt with the goat’s cheese. Taste and add some black pepper and, if you feel you have to, a pinch of salt.

Once the potatoes are done, take them out of their tin foil and cut a cross on the top so they can easily be opened and stuffed. Now scoop in some of the cheese mixture, some onion, three stalks of asparagus each and top with some more pepper.

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5 Responses to Becoming British

  1. Jeroen says:

    Don’t know about Scotland, but here in the South East, they’re called jacket potatoes … Perhaps you are not that British yet after all … ? :-)


    • Some people here do call them jacket potato, but baked potato is more common. Probably because it’s quicker, the Scottish seem to prefer the short version of just about anything.


      • Baked tattie is the fastest way of saying it, and… yes… that’s what I’d say generally :) Just discovered your blog Veerle! As a fellow foodie I can’t believe I missed it for so long… And now I’m exceptionally hungry and must go cook something!


      • Aaah Kit, how very lovely to hear from you, and how lovely to see that you like my blog. What did you end up making today? I hope it was tasty. Also, it’ll please you to hear that I still use the knives you gave me in second year very frequently, they’re probably visible in some of the pictures. Great gift, still enjoy it pretty much daily, so thanks again :)


  2. Pingback: My Scottish family | La dittatrice della cucina

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