Food for thought

I read Jackie Ashley's article "Goodbye to all that boiled cabbage" (22 January) with mounting incredulity, reaching a peak when she wrote: "We have no tradition of cuisine handed down from one generation to the next".

I grew up in Yorkshire and throughout my youth enjoyed the best food I have ever come across in my considerable travels (with the possible exception of rural Cyprus). My grandmother made incomparable bread - fresh, moist and crumbly. We enjoyed locally grown salads and vegetables - including delicious boiled cabbage - but the British cuisine was built on a plentiful supply of fine game, meats and fish. All were expertly braised, grilled, roasted, fried or boiled as necessary. Most items travelled little distance and, except for well-hung beef, were wonderfully fresh.

I believe it was Escoffier who praised British puddings as one of the joys of life. If Ashley cannot make apple pie, trifle, Sussex pond pudding, Snowdon pudding, treacle tart or any of a thousand other culinary poems we have in these islands, then at least recognise that others can.

Joan Davis
Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire

Well done to Jackie Ashley for expressing what I have long felt; namely, that the foodie phenomenon has yet to imbed itself into the fabric of our society. A quick glance at the TV listings of countries with a true culinary heritage, such as France or Italy, reveal an almost total absence of cookery programmes. While we Brits use food as a weapon for one-upmanship, they just get on with it.

David Shaw
London N11

This article first appeared in the 12 February 1999 issue of the New Statesman, Kick out the image-makers