In a fit of anxiety that I wouldn’t have anything to blog about (apparently that’s not an issue as I seem to have a backlog of posts that I’m trying to catch up on) I joined the Daring Kitchen group Daring Baker’s Challenge. For those not in the know, they challenge everyone in the group to bake the same thing and then post simultaneously the results of the baking on the 27th of the month. The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.
I’m not squeamish about food ingredients. In fact, I’m not squeamish about nearly ANYTHING when it comes to food of any sort (hello, I’m Asian and have eaten pretty much anything and any part of most commonly eaten animals). However, I really didn’t want to go down the route of tracking down and processing suet. Suet, if you are unfamiliar with the ingredient, is hard beef or mutton fat found around the loins and kidneys. It’s a traditional ingredient in making British steamed pudding. Steamed puddings like the much maligned “Spotted Dick” dessert and the traditional kidney and onion pudding. My friend Peter would probably love this challenge, as he loves pretty much anything related to meat or animal parts (which leads to all sorts of interesting conversations when I am around him and his partner Grant who is a vegetarian).
However, I was so NOT enthusiastic about this challenge. I don’t know why, as usually I love to play with ingredients that I’m not that familiar with. But the idea of tracking down suet (which, in a food town like San Francisco, probably wouldn’t be that hard) and then grating it and rendering it down just seemed like a lot of work for a dish that never really appealed to me in the first place.
I love the British. I love the fact that they gave us French and Saunders and AbFab and Anthony Steward Head (Giles from Buffy!) and The Beatles and Kate Bush and Kylie Minogue (ok, I know she’s Australian, but she moved from Australia to England to launch her music career, so I’m gonna count her in this list). They gave us James Bond and The Spice Girls and William Shakespeare! They gave us The Sex Pistols and punk rock and Princess Di. And yes, they gave us Sir Alec Guinness – Obi-Wan Kenobi. For that AJ will be forever grateful.
I love the guard at Westminster Abbey who adored us when we visited (he asked where we were visiting from, and when we replied “San Francisco”, gave us a lascivious wink and said “Luv your city!” as he held open the door for us).
I love the fact that when I was in London with AJ, we actually were stopped at the entryway of the dance club G.A.Y. and grilled on whether or not we understood what sort of club we were going to, and if we were ok with that. Um. Yeah. The club is called G.A.Y. We know what sort of club is it. Not ALL Americans are ridiculously stupid.
I, do NOT, however really love traditional British food. I’m not talking the new British food explosion Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay British food. I’m talking old school black pudding, kippers, pickled cabbage and the aforementioned Spotted Dick. Don’t really care for it. And this challenge seem to fall squarely in that category.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love me some chicken tikka marsala and I love fish and chips (both of which we ate tons of when we were in London). But for the first challenge in the Daring Kitchen Daring Baker’s Challenge was definitely something I wasn’t enthusiastic about.
So I put off making the dish until this past weekend. And when I finally tried to track down suet, the people I talked to said they needed a two week lead time to get it. Ah my laziness….