Well, I am beat – B. E. A. T. – this morning. So beat that I have skived off heading into London to see the changing of the guard with our son and his wife, who are visiting from the States. Hubby is doing the honours while I languish under a mountain of laundry and proceed to tidy up in the wake of yesterday’s “crawfish” boil.
Ok – so there were no actual crawfish involved here. In England, “crayfish” come cooked and already shelled in plastic packets, all set to be mixed with mayo and spread on a bap for lunch. I know – you don’t have to remind me how gross that sounds. So, in lieu of actual mudbugs, I procured 3 kilos of Scottish langoustines, 2 kilos of magnificent Indonesian prawns, and a boot load of smaller tiger prawns, which we boiled up Louisiana style with the aid of my Cajun princess daughter-in-law last night.
You have not lived until you have seen a Brit responding to seafood bathed in cayenne-red water! It is like a whole other side of the foodie brain is awakened and electrified. Washed down with a beer (or 2) and followed up by ice creams all around, a seafood boil makes for a perfect early summer evening.
Over the years, I have made it my personal mission to bring southern spice to this country. It all started back when we did the first of many “Mexican” nights at the Augustine Ranch. Our British friends queued up for margaritas and fajitas, enchiladas and tacos. I had made jalapeno poppers and gave ample warning. For those not “in the know,” poppers are made by deseeding a whole jalapeno and piping in cream cheese. The whole pepper is then dipped in batter and deep fried. The result is a fairly spicy finger of deliciousness that your average Texan can eat by the dozen.
Not so for your average English newbie to the world of spice. In the mid 90s, most English folk existed on a diet of fish, chips and roast dinners. Delicious though these were, they were devoid of anything spicier than black pepper (if that).
On this particular evening, one ginger-haired friend picked up a handful of jalapeno poppers. “Ray,” I said, “I’ve got to warn you – these are properly hot.”
“Ahh,” he said, shaking his head and giving a cocky grin. “I love spicy food,” he said. Spicy for Ray, I assume, meant ketchup.
“OK, if you say so…”
In went the popper. Up went Ray’s blood pressure. His face turned brick red and his hairline actually disappeared. Everything from the collar up glowed. His eyes started to pour water. Ray sputtered. Ray gagged.
We laughed. (Well, I DID warn him!)
Spicy American food is now much more the norm over here, thank goodness. You can order exotic things like nachos at your local pub. Ok – in all fairness, your plate of chips and cheese will have only a couple tablespoons of salsa sparingly dabbed about, necessitating a trip to the bar to pinch the Tabasco. There will be mayo served on the side, sure. (WHY?)
But as they say, Rome was not built in a day. Neither will England overnight become a land of rival crab shacks, Mexican cantinas or Smokehouse Barbeques, which, I believe, is just as well! In the interest of fairness, Americans have much to learn about how to raise and serve lamb. Chinese food in the States leaves a whole lot to be desired, and don’t even get me started on the lack of decent Indian cuisine… Just saying.
Cultural diversity is – in true fact – the spice of life!
This morning, my bottom lip looks like somebody set light to it and I’m pretty sure I still smell like cayenne in spite of showering. I really could use a nap! Still – last night’s “crawfish” boil goes into the Big Augustine Adventure record books, right alongside all our other mad, mad adventures.
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