Sunday, 2 August 2015

Cricket cuisine

By: Mrs Robot

There are lots of very good reasons to like going to watch cricket, but have you ever considered the food? Some of my best memories of cricket matches are of the food, odd though it might sound. Some years back we saved for three years to go to Barbados to watch a West Indies-England Test, and I still remember the man who'd walk through the ground selling paper bags of fishcakes, yelling, "Last two! Last two!" (It never was the last two.) Then there were fish cutters (breaded flying fish fillets in break rolls), macaroni pie (macaroni cheese) and other tasty treats sold from stalls behind the stands. At Lords, there are gourmet burger vans. The food at the ground at Bristol hasn't stuck in my mind, though the Caribbean restaurant we walk past on the way back to the railway station has.

Mr Robot and I went to Edgbaston this week to watch the first day of the third England-Australia Test match. I was looking forward to it, because Edgbaston is in Birmingham, and that means masses of good curry. Or so I thought... But I'm getting ahead of myself.
 There are food stalls all the way round the ground behind the stands, but there is one main area where most of the vans and stalls are clustered. Our seats were in a stand very close by the food court, which was fab. When we walked in, we had time for a good look around. Hog roast and pizza, waffles and burritos, burgers, posh sausages and fish and chips... so much choice. Though you will notice something missing there. Where's the curry? We settled for a breakfast bap (bacon, sausage, egg, and black pudding, all in a brioche roll) and I got a free cuppa from the Yorkshire Tea stall.
Lunch was excellent soft tacos from Smoqued. The tacos were made from purple maize and were delicious. Later Mr Robot had a foot-long hot dog and I dragged him to the other side of the ground in search of Edgbaston Cheese Crunch. I'd seen it mentioned on the ground's website, with no description, and there was no description online. What could it be? As Birmingham is in the Black Country (the amount of industry there in the 19th century meant the whole region was sooty) I wondered if it was pork scratchings covered in cheese. Edgbaston Cheese Crunch turned out to be our old chum macaroni cheese*, coated in breadcrumbs and fried. Not very healthy, but very tasty.

And that curry? There was a lone curry stall, Spice Nation, which we visited at the tea break. It was excellent. There may not have been the choice I'd imagined, but the quality was definitely there. Beautifully tender lamb, well spiced... delicious!

All that, and a decent performance by England too. Owzat?
*After the cricket, I got into a Twitter chat with Mi Mi Aye about macaroni pie. I'd wondered if the cheese crunch owed its origins to Birmingham's large Caribbean community. She mentioned that macaroni pie was also a Scottish delicacy. Early in Barbados' colonial history, the sugar plantations were worked by Scottish indentured servants, the ancestors of the 'redlegs', and I found myself wondering if they'd taken macaroni pie there, and the people who came to the UK in the 1950s brought it almost all the way back. 

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