Modern Britain is proud of its multiculturalism — as it should be. Even a cursory visitor to a British city, typified by the polyglot megalopolis of London, will not really find himself out of place. But there may be one shortcoming of this multi-culturalism: Multi-culti Britain may have smothered what many would call 'Britishness'. Now, we desis more than anyone know that a catch-all word like 'Britishness' will upset many a Scotsman, Irishman and Welshman (not to mention a few Englishmen) as much as the concept of 'Indianness' will be debated till the holy cows come home. But nowhere is the eclipse of 'British culture' more visible, at least to us sitting here across a continent and a half away than in the food department.
We all know about how former British Foreign Minister Robin Cook tried to make it official that the chicken tikka masala — that orangy product of mutatis Britannia — was Britain's (read: New Labour Britain's) official dish. Frankly, we expected some show of liberal conservatism in the form of signature dishes like shepherd's pie, fish'n'chips, bangers'n'mash during meals hosted during Brit PM David Cameron's visit to India. We understand their desire to tuck into Indian food — the chicken tikka, as opposed to the chicken tikka masala, included. But surely for the rest of us, a helpful reminder would have been a 'full English' or a steak and kidney pie on the menu.
Let us make a suggestion to those who govern the land of balti cuisine and doner kebabs: do try and convince the magnificent Ferguson Hendersen to open his St John restaurants serving wholesome English food in India. And a flowering of fish'n'chip shops all across our land. That, Mr Cameron, would truly amount to a "enhanced partnership".