Helen Matthes Library patrons got a taste of culture — and tea — from England native Catherine Bailey, who explained the United Kingdom's iconic delicacies and their origins Thursday night.
Attendants nibbled English cookies with black tea during the presentation that was part of the “Have Book, Will Travel” theme of the library's summer reading program.
The Marketing and Adult Programming coordinator shared her favorite dishes, and ones she wouldn't touch, while breaking down the foods by region — jellied eels, whitebait and stargazy pie, three fish dishes, come from the south of England. While Bailey has had eels, jellied eels is “something I have not tried and don't intend to try,” although she is a fan of whitebait, which are tiny fish, deep-fried and eaten whole. Stargazy pie is an entree with eggs, potatoes and fish heads, pointed up, baked in a pastry crust.
Scrumpy, a type of cider, is also popular in the area. Bailey said the beverage is always alcoholic in England, and the name comes from “scrimping,” slang for stealing apples.
The British very much enjoy savory pies and gravies, classic dishes that allowed laborers to pack their lunch in a handkerchief and enjoy their meal without a mess.
“Our sausages are very different from your sausages,” Bailey said, adding she believes it's the spices.
A type of sausage called “bangers” were so named during wartime, when meat rationing went into effect. Water was added to sausages to stretch them out, causing them to explode or “bang” when cooked.
The British also have several dishes that make use of less popular organs, such as faggots, which are made from offal, or the innards of an animal. While the popularity of the dish has decreased in recent years, Bailey said it's low cost and nutrition were what made it an attractive meal.