In Britain, we have always had an awkward relationship with food. We’ve been told for so long that we are terrible cooks and yet when someone with a clipboard asks us what the best things are about being British, our traditional food and drink are more important than the monarchy and at least as significant as our landscape and national monuments in defining a collective notion of who we are.
Taking nine archetypically British dishes – Pie and Peas, A Cheese Sandwich, Fish and Chips, Spag Bol, Devonshire Cream Tea, Curry, The Full English, The Sunday Roast and a Crumble with Custard – and enjoying them in their most typical settings, Pete Brown examines just how fundamental food is to our sense of identity, perhaps even our sense of pride, and the ways in which we understand our place in the world.
Pete Brown is a middle-class north London foodie, who grew up working-class in Barnsley. He may well now speak fluent ramen and conversational kimchi, but he does so with a thick fish-and-chips accent. He has written several books on food and drink, including Man Walks into a Pub, Three Sheets to the Wind, and The Apple Orchard. His discriminating palate has led him to be a judge in the Great Taste Awards and the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards, and a frequent contributor to Radio 4’s The Food Programme.
“The book examines a series of traditional British meals with Hornby’s geeky obsessiveness and Orwell’s incisive class observation… His prose is engaging, his storytelling effortless… Brown writes beautifully and fondly of every dish in a way that will have you desperate to taste it again at the end of each chapter. This historical information he weaves around the food is plentiful, accurate and worn lightly, and his observations are fresh and provocative.” – Financial Times.
“Part Nigel Slater, part Bill Bryson, and wholly delicious… Funny, informative and written with passion, Pie Fidelity is a love poem to all that’s great in British cooking.” – Mail on Sunday.
“A heart-felt book that makes an important point without false pride or sentimentality. When it comes to food, we're better than we think.” – The Times.
“Genuinely revealing… Brown evokes the emotionalism of eating.” – The Guardian.
Interested in learning more about Newham Bookshop and some of the people connected with it? We have four lessons for classroom or family use developed from On the Record’s oral history project centered around Newham Bookshop, Writing and Reading Newham. Click here for full details.
We are proud that Newham Bookshop is LoveReading’s Bookshop of the Month. The article features a Q&A with Vivian Archer, which you can read here.