England Adventure: the food edition

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.

Ecclesiastes 3:11-14

So I promised, a few days ago, a specifically focused food post from our UK Adventure. Here it is, but with the caveat that I didn’t photograph anywhere near everything we ate. Fact is, I was surprised – albeit pleasantly – that I had made it to England and back again without gaining at least five or six pounds.

First, those who don’t know all that much about England need to understand that the oft-repeated “English food is bland” stereotype is not only out of date now but always was. True, food in the UK is not traditionally spicy or heavily seasoned, lost under a torrent of garlic or peppers or layers of tomato sauce and more.

– pub fish & chips

But there is good reason for that, because if we look carefully at the hottest, spiciest, pepperiest food cultures in the world, it doesn’t take much digging to find that all that heat had its origins in covering up food options that often needed a heavy dose of disguise and distraction.

English food – historically – has always been good meat and potatoes, and vegetables that didn’t need to be overruled by too much in the way of herbs and spices.

– eating at “The Coast”

That said, our food experience in the UK this most recent trip was often the best of both worlds. Good basic ingredients made even better with a lot of imagination.

I can’t say enough, for example, about the traditional English Farmhouse Breakfast we enjoyed at the Caledon Guesthouse on the Isle of Wight, and the amazing culinary experience we had at both visits to “The Coast” restaurant in the old town of Cowes.

Other highlights would be the fish and chips served at The Castle pub near Bodiam, the coffee and pastry we enjoyed at the Cornish Bakery in Hastings, and the most amazing over-the-top experience of seafood on the beach at Camber Sands, prepared by Andrew and Alicia’s friend Joe (a.k.a “the amazing chef they brought in from London”).

My rule of thumb, when traveling in the United Kingdom, is – whenever possible – eat in a pub.

Eat local food, ask local people where they eat, save your chain restaurant experiences for – well – never!

Airplane Food:

This epic adventure was bookmarked by two most outrageously wonderful American Airlines “Business Elite” flights. Rebekah and I enjoyed an experience that will have most certainly spoiled us for life and make it a serious challenge to endure tourist class air travel ever again!

The food served at the front of the plane, we discovered, is not the same – nowhere near! So the last few photographs in the gallery will feature some of the surprisingly excellent cuisine we enjoyed courtesy of our once-in-a-lifetime upgrade!

Grateful and blessed!

In short, the entire trip featured wonderful people and good food and generous spirits. From the pubs… to the fish & chips restaurants… to the guesthouse… to the epic barbecue on the beach… to the amazing Coast restaurant in Cowes… to preparing English delicacies (such as treacle tart and custard) at the Airbnb… to the bakeries… to the grocery store, good food was plentiful and we were blessed in so many ways.

– Rebekah outside “The Coast” on the Isle of Wight

The following photos are just a sampling, and I have tried to label everything the best I can remember.

But you have to go for yourself, and you have to make the effort to eat as exclusively “local” as possible, and you have to approach every meal, every snack, every cup of tea with intentional gratitude and a wide open heart.

Otherwise, why travel in the first place? You don’t fly halfway around the world to experience anything – least of all your dinner – the same as you would at home.

Godspeed in all your travels – DEREK

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