Seventy years ago, when The Queen came to the Throne, the culinary outlook in the United Kingdom was bleak: several foods were still rationed and the meagre choice of ingredients on offer posed a challenge to even the most creative cook. Meals from other parts of the world were almost unheard of. The only option for a takeaway was the ever-faithful fish and chips; and olive oil was sold in small bottles by chemists, for medical rather than culinary use. Today, our tastes have been transformed. More than ever before we welcome one another’s culinary heritage into our homes – and, for this, we are deeply grateful.
What has not changed is the profound, almost spiritual, significance of breaking bread with others, be they family, friends or strangers. A shared meal has always been a path to building relationships and resolving differences. While we all know this instinctively to be true in our daily lives, this book reveals that food is equally essential to our country’s diplomatic relations.
Some of the recipes in this wonderful collection from our network of diplomatic posts are authentically local; some are proudly British; and others represent the coming together of British and local influences, often to spectacular effect. What shines through is a sense of the excitement and pleasure that our diplomats have experienced from discovering a local cuisine and, through it, a new country and people. It is, we think, also a fitting tribute to those Residence Chefs and Managers who are often unsung heroes and heroines – as important as ambassadors for our country as are our diplomats.
On all Royal Visits, food plays an important part, presenting opportunities to enjoy a taste of the host nation’s culinary heritage, while also offering a chance to share the best of British cuisine. We recognize some of the dishes here, from the British-Malaysian fusion Rendang Beef Wellington we enjoyed in Kuala Lumpur, through to the utterly delicious, whisky bread and butter pudding we enjoyed in Washington.
As we come together as a nation, in the Realms, and across the Commonwealth to celebrate Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, food will no doubt play a central part in our public and private celebrations. We only hope that this book provides you with both pleasure and inspiration, and that food continues to bring you together with family, friends, neighbours and your community.