Since moving to New York, I have not once visited either of the two city-renound British food shops Myers of Keswick and Tea & Sympathy. This is not for lack of fancy for Heinz Baked Beans, Marmite, PG Tips and Digestives- it’s just that since moving we’ve had rather a lot of UK visitors who only receive a towel and clean sheets on presentation of the such favoured items. Nothing is free in this life, even for friends and family looking for a bed.
The summer heat however, seems to have put off further hotel-avoiding visitors and our supplies have nearly all but dried up. Fortunately, New York has a rather strong British contingent and the demand means that the most basic English goods can be found in just about all the main New York supermarkets. I even read recently that there is a campaign for a “Little Britain” in the city- although if this has any resemblance to the TV show, then I think I might be forced in shame to adopt an American accent after all.
But when I did some research on the Internet and discovered that Myers of Keswick were purveyors of true British Chipolatas, Bangers* and Cumberland sausages, there was a rumble in my tummy that signalled I would have to make a trip downtown. Oh the joy that a Chipolata would bring me. Crispy on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside, served with a side of mash and peas or baked beans with a fried egg on top. Cravings like these are essential to nurture and satisfy. Having been raised in a household that ate sausages every week, it came to no surprise to me that I would miss them when I crossed the pond- it was only a matter of time.
Americans’ do not know how to make good sausages. There I’ve said it. The day that I crave an American Breakfast sausage, Frank or Weiner will be on the same day that I’m diagnosed as no longer having taste buds. I apologise if I have offended any American but I don’t take offense at your hate for Marmite. My pure disgust for American sausages led me to do some research into how they are made. American sausages tend to be sold precooked, they don’t contain breadcrumbs and the meat is pulverised rather than finely chopped but I don’t see how this can make them so different. I think there is more to it and I intended to find out**. But in the meantime, I needed a reminder of how good the sausages from back home are.
Walking into Myers of Keswick it is like walking into a little village shop in the English countryside (minus the kids counting out their penny sweets, and the smell of freshly printed newspapers). The shop itself is tiny, but it sells every British staple including several varieties of Baked Beans stacked on shelves the whole way up the wall. Of, course there is a heavy price to pay for these delectables- but with a large population of British people in New York pining after sausages and beans- it’s expected; I suppose.
I was seduced immediately by the sausages behind the glass casing and despite their raw and flaccid condition they seemed to me, a picture of comfort. Even without knowing that they supplied Gordon Ramsey’s New York restaurant “The London” , I would have found temptation in them.
Needless-to-say I was not dissatisfied. I baked a selection off in the oven and they had just enough fat near the skin surface to create a crispy outer-layer. The flavours were spot on- no ketchup, mustard or onions required. I may have just become a good friend to Myers of Keswick- or certainly overly familiar face. Next stop: Tea and Sympathy.
*They are called Bangers for their tendency to burst open when cooking, if not pierced.
**For more information on American hot dogs please visit http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Hot_Dogs/index.asp