“Half memoir, half travel, A Yank Back to England...is an absolutely wonderful book, not only about going home again but also about love and family and tradition and the passage of the years.” —Michael Dirda, Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic (Washington Post) To see the entire quote, click here.
Prodigal Wife found this beautiful photo of Rye at PublicDomainePictures.net, and it made me grin like a happy giraffe! At the end of the street is Lamb House, once the home of E.F. Benson (and Henry James before him)—better known as Mallards to millions of Mapp and Lucia fans like myself. Looking up at the conservatory, I so easily imagine Lucia spying on her neighbors from her music room. And one of the lovely cottages on the right must be George's home, before he became Lucia's husband (in name only, of course). Perhaps the one with the charming pink roses?
When England was celebrating the Festival of Britain and cheering for the Queen, I came into the world without many cheers but quite a lot of tears. Mum bawled her eyes out when I turned out to be a boy and not the girl she always wanted. Regardless, after the nurse offered to take me, mum reluctantly assumed the maternal role.
The town of Sandwich was first recorded in the seventh century and had Saxon origins, though many believe it was settled much earlier. The name was derived from the Place of Sand, but it was the origin of the edible sandwich that intrigued us most. It all started in the mid-eighteenth century. The illustrious Earl of Sandwich, in order to continue gambling and, presumably, not break a winning streak, called for beef to be placed between two slices of bread so he could eat without getting gravy on his playing cards or ruffled shirt sleeves. Thus a new dish was created. Ironically, the earls of Sandwich had no real connection to the town. The first earl, Edward Montagu, only took the title of Earl of Sandwich because his fleet docked at Sandwich prior to sailing for France to pick up King Charles the Second and return him to the throne of England. Montagu could just as easily taken his title from another town along the coast. “Anyone for a roast beef portsmouth?” I asked. We thought about it for a moment; it did not sound as strange as I expected. “Could work,” said Frances. “Although roast beef ‘rye’ would be better.” “Rye! Yes. Clever. Very.” I smiled.
Here’s a refreshing, very simple starter to add to your repertoire. The Stilton cheese make this a very proper English dish. This recipe is enough for at least four servings, with a half a pear per guest. Of course, you might like this so much you’ll need a whole pear! You need two ounces of Stilton and the same amount of cream cheese. Two ripe pears, salad fixings, a lemon, and olive oil. Here’s what you do. Crumble the Stilton (no nibbling!), then combine with the cream cheese and whip—we use a mini food-processor for this—until well blended. Use any pears that look and feels nice and ripe. Chill down the pears for an hour or two, then peel and slice in half. Use a spoon to core them out, then spoon the cheese mixture into the hollows you have so cleverly created. I serve the pear halves on a little bed of lettuce garnished with endive spears, and walnut halves that have been sautéed in butter for just a minute.
The pear halves and salad bits are dressed with a vinaigrette made of lemon juice, olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a little sugar. Freshly ground pepper is the final touch.
This is a refreshing and delicious starter, and so simple to put together. Too simple? Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
Standing, from L to R: Lew (Dad), Frances (Prodigal Wife), Denis (The Prodigal Tourist), and Jessie (Mum). Floating: Kate (Prodigal Daughter).
About this blog
You are reading random vignettes, deleted scenes, and other extras from and about my book, A Yank Back to England: The Prodigal Tourist Returns. Enjoy, let me know what you think, ask questions, and thanks for your support! Cheers, The Prodigal Tourist
Years ago I shed my Cockney accent and left London's blighted East End for America. Since then, I’ve only returned to see my increasingly cantankerous parents and assorted relatives. Until my American wife comes along. She wants to tour, see the sights. No thank you. It’s not for me. But she insists, and I become a reluctant tourist in my former homeland.