St George’s Day

April 20, 2013 by The Co-operative Food StGeorgearticle

The 23rd of April will be St George’s Day which will give the English a good excuse to roll out the red and white flag of our patron saint. It won’t just be the English though as George is the patron saint of several countries, regions and cities. Not surprisingly that includes Georgia, but also Aragon and neighbouring Catalonia in Spain.

I find it fascinating that the date represents the day of his death, yet the first written reference to George is said to be from the venerable Bede who lived over three hundred years after George died. The fact that anyone’s story could live that long, just through being passed on by word of mouth suggests that he must have been a special kind of fellow. The red cross against its white background is consistent in symbolising St George too.

Though the story of him slaying a dragon is rather fanciful if you take it at face value, but when we consider that this is the stuff of legends it doesn’t take much to consider that dragon as a metaphor for some other evil. George we believe was a Greek, born in Turkey who became a soldier in the Roman army and stood up against his masters for the rights of Christians in a time of their suppression.

An ancient human rights activist we could say, and one who paid a high price for his strict moral compass. After George refused numerous brides to renounce his religion he was tortured and beheaded!

St George’s Day was an official feast in England from the year 1222, although in the past couple of centuries its celebration has diminished – until now. As our lives become more homogenised we seem to seek new ways of stating who we are, and in that process national and regional events that had become all but forgotten are seeing a resurgence. Now even Boris Johnson is campaigning for St George’s Day to be made into an English national holiday and it is certainly gaining importance in the pubs up and down the country.

So how should we celebrate this feast from days gone by that our parents probably didn’t give a second thought to?

My suggestions for celebrations usually turn to food, and this is no exception! I propose that we all make the most of the fine fare that we know as English. Here are a few favourites, with special occasion dishes, and simple food that I identify as English too:

  • The Full English! What a way to start your day. I grill the bacon and sausages to cut down on the fat content, and a full English is a treat for us rather than a regular occurrence. It’s often less of a breakfast than a late morning weekend special that sees us well into the day.
  • Roast Beef with all the trimmings! After all the French often call us Rosbifs, so let’s live up to it! Give me crispy roast potatoes. Yorkshire puddings. And plenty of gorgeous veg. I intend to try to serve the full five a day compliment on a single plate and move my best of British dinner in a healthier direction.
  • Or if you really want to push the boat out how about a Beef Wellington. Amazing fillet steak, wrapped in pate and cooked in a pastry crust. Wow! All it needs is a good helping of steaming veg and to wash it down a robust glass of red, or even a good full bodied ale.
  • Simple is good too and what’s better than great English sausages, creamy mash and lashings of gravy? I like to make too much mash and then have bubble and squeak next day.
  • Then the puddings. Jam Roly Poly. Treacle pud. Spotted Dick, or anything with rhubarb. They all seem so English to me, and any pudding needs to be drowned in custard in our household.
  • And beer. Ale, stout, mild, bitter, porter they all speak of England, and the right one can make a fine match for any meal.

If you’re having people around then check out the deals at The Co-operative. There are some lovely joints of pork shoulder and gammon on offer.

We’ll certainly be having the sirloin steaks. You can get two for just a fiver in April. I thought of steak and chips for my favourites above, but it’s one of my favourite dishes when I go to France so it didn’t seem to fit in my English menu.

The 23rd of April. Let’s make it special and celebrate St George’s Day with a great meal. And don’t forget to say happy birthday to the bard. It’s Shakespeare’s birthday on the 23rd as well.

Take a look at more of our great deals online for your feast St George’s day feast: http://www.co-operativefood.co.uk/deals/ 

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