Friday, August 28, 2009

Peasant Pairings

Pairing beer and food seems to be the big thing these days, even hotels in Prague are getting in on the act. From what I read over on Relentless Thirst, Richmond has regular beer dinners pairing up different beers with each course. To my mind though there is something about these things which bugs my head.

Beer is the everyman drink, transcending class and status; and the pub is the ultimate social leveller. To my mind then, beer is best "paired" with everyman foods - perhaps this is my inner peasant speaking, but I have no time for juliennes of this with coulis of that. The everyman drink should never lose its place, paired with everyman food. Here then are some of my favourite foods, all of which are British naturally, and the beers I would drink with them:
  • Steak and kidney pudding (it should be in a suet crust not a pastry pie thing!) - good traditional British fare deserves the classic British beer, a pint of best bitter. Anything darker would add an extra layer of richness making it cloying, anything lighter would be lost.
  • Fish pie, not the insipid offerings of the supermarket but my mum's made with trout, cockles, mussels, salmon and whatever other fish we got from the fishermen, topped with mashed potato and grated mature cheddar demands something with backbone, so it has to be a good stout. Stout and oysters is of course a classic, and with fish pie an absolute delight.
  • For me the highlight of the culinary year is Christmas, in particular mince pies (again ditch the shop bought stuff, my mum still makes her own mincemeat, with beef in it). Served warmed with a dollop of philadelphia cheese under the lid, what would work better than a lightly hopped 80/- Scottish ale?

I guess I am just old-fashioned in many ways, and I am quite happy to trumpet loud the superb nature of traditional British food, made properly and served with well made traditional beer. For me the ongoing growth in the craft beer scene is part of something bigger, it is part of a rebellion against industrial food and drink plied with chemicals and junk in order to cut costs.

In pairing food with beer, follow the peasant inside and go traditional - whatever that means to you in your world. Moules frites with a Flanders red ale? Currywurst with weizen? Burger with an American IPA? Yes, please! Sure cross-cultural pairings may work, but lets not turn our backs on beer's place as the everyman drink.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. Mince Pies are a great example of unfussy food, made to be drunk with beer - the flavours are so close. That's why a lot of Christmas beers tend to evoke those flavours. I also count Sausages, Pies, Hamburgers (reallu), Pizza (good Pizza) and Mussels (if it's good enough for the belgians...) as simple foods that take some beating for beer matching.