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Eating Great Britain, Part III: Boozing

A year or so ago, I taught a writing class to folks with Alzheimer’s and dementia. On an exercise writing about travel, one gentleman commented that in England, “they have a hundred religions and only one sauce.” Well, that may have been true once upon a time. A few hundred years ago is when Voltaire first made that comment, though he cited only sixty religions. But still one sauce. Bad, bland food seems to be a pesky detail Brits have a hard time shaking. Even now, upon returning from England and telling friends (who haven’t visited the mighty island) about my trip, they instantly don a face of genuine concern before asking, “How was the food?” then wait with bated breath for me to traumatize them with tales of jellied eel and black pudding. Instead, I tell them about the fabulous vegetable gardens and spread the gospel of pickled onions. Truthfully, I don’t know how horrendous English food might have once been. Maybe pretty bad, considering its global reputation (but let’s take it with a grain of salt, especially when judgement comes from our own country that now values quantity over quality). Hubs assures me that English cuisine has greatly improved over the recent years and I have to say, I’ve not had a bad meal yet.

Rumtopf is named for the pot in which it is made

But regardless of food, one thing I’m certain they do right is booze. And how. But I’m not just talking about beer. With his abundance of fruit from the garden, my father-in-law puts it to good use by making his own rum and wine. Too many currants? Ferment them into vino! Tired of eating damson? Drown it in rum! His concoctions are good, though I have to say it’ll make your eyes cross. If you’re thinking of making fruit wine at home, check out this handy guide: http://www.fruitwinemaker.com/ 

Homemade black currant wine

And if you’re here for something stronger, I’ll pass along the easiest recipe ever. Drink the rum, and use the boozy fruit as a topping for ice cream.

Rumtopf 

Ingredients: 

1 lb. fruit (berries, peaches, plums, etc.)

1 heaping cup sugar

rum

Directions: 

  • Wash fruit and cut in half.
  • Put fruit and sugar in rumtopf. Add enough rum to completely cover the fruit. Mix.
  • Close rumtopf and store in a cool, dry place. You can add more fruit/sugar/rum as you like.
  • Wait about 6 weeks and voila! Fruit flavored rum, and rum flavored fruit!