Food & Beer – We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby
I really enjoyed Mark’s recent post on the ‘state’ of Beer & Food. There’s plenty in there to think about, and Mark’s right – Beer & Food hasn’t really ‘taken off’ yet in a way that we maybe thought it would do.
The problem in that statement, perhaps, is ‘we’. It’s easy to exist in a microcosm of blogging and Twitter, mistaking Twissups, Beer and food events or bottleswaps as things that everyone does. It’s very easy, as Boak & Bailey have repeatedly impressed upon us this year, to lose perspective.
Ok, here comes that trademark Leigh Linley optimism.
Despite our reservations, let’s not lose sight of the things that have changed. Again, I can only speak for Leeds and its environs, but I’m seeing much more Beer and Food interest – especially in the last two years. I personally have run formal meals at Dough Bistro, and a few more informal events all with varying degrees of success. People come, are interested, speak to you and genuinely want to know more. What’s more, they go away either buying a bottle of what they’ve tasted or askig for it when they sit down to eat next. In the case of Dough, people were paying to come and eat -and both events that we ran sold out. People were, and are, interested.
Look at the great work Source Deli do. Look at the always-sold-out meet the brewer meals that The Cross Keys do. Byron Hamburger‘s excellent example of ongoing collaboration with Camden. Shepherd Neame recently featured on the surprisingly watchable ‘Our Food‘ in relation to Hop Harvesting (ok it wasn’t beer and food but it was a step toward recognising Beer as part of our ‘foodie’ heritage). Even the free magazine given away at the tills at Morrisons this month have a rundown of Beer on offer – and a few food suggestions.
This wasn’t happening a few years ago. We’ve come a long way!
I totally agree with Mark that it still needs a push outside that bubble; to become a way of life rather than a novelty, to be paid for in advance and enjoyed with guidance. But that’s a cultural change; and that’s not easy to achieve – maybe impossible. That breakout TV programme may never come. There are plenty of Beer cookbooks out there – some truly excellent – none of which have really ignited public imagination.
In the meantime, we should enjoy it; enjoy your beer and food – whether it be a packet of Pork Scratchings with your pint on a lunchtime or a weekend meal, shared with friends and bottles of beer rather than wine. Wine is not the enemy, but it’s culturally more ingrained.
Let’s keep heading toward that point, having fun along the way. Enjoying beer and food and always looking for the next experience – if you want to formalise it that much. I know that I prefer the range of flavour that Beer has with my food most of the time; let’s just carry on enjoying it. Who knows, maybe that’s how we affect things. By just doing.