Heinz: British Pantry

In this week’s British Pantry, we’re paying homage not to a product, but a whole brand – and a US one at that. We don’t think the contradiction here is anything to worry about. After all, we have spoken many times about the shared culinary heritage of us transatlantic cousins, and the “57 Varieties” of the H. J. Heinz Company founded in Sharpsburg, PA in 1869 offer a prime example. From ketchup to Worcestershire sauce to cans of soup, Heinz’s condiments and convenient sustenance is as beloved in New York City as in Norwich or Newcastle.

But in this store-cupboard romance, there’s one particular product which we feel the Brits have well and truly made their own. For many, beans on toast has summed up the frugal food that’s dominated British plates since World War II. Hungover students and busy mums alike knew that with a can opener, a microwave and a toaster you could fill demanding stomachs pretty sharpish – and for less than £1! Indeed, Brits consume 95% of the world’s baked beans. And while the Jamie Oliver age of British cuisine has seen a slowdown in their sales, they’re still one of the biggest sellers in our store and restaurant.

^ A rather silly take on Gordon Ramsey’s F-Word, paying homage to beans on toast.

With news that Heinz are set to release a new five bean variety of the classic, we’re interested to see whether they can tickle the more exotic, health-conscious tastes of British taste buds – as well as try them for ourselves! And as a fascinating little aside to end today’s post on: did you know that tomato ketchup used to be made of fish?!  We’ll hand over to Gizmodo here for further explanation:

The first English reference to “katchop” was in the book, Compleat Housewife [sic], published in 1727, which contained directions for a sauce spun from “twelve to fourteen anchovies, ten to twelve shallots, white wine vinegar, white wine…mace, ginger, cloves, whole peppers, a whole nutmeg, lemon peel, and horseradish.”

Food historians reckon the recipe was brought back from Southeast Asia by travellers, and that British shelves were also adorned with mushroom, walnut, red pepper, grape and oyster variants! However the new “Five Beanz” taste, we’ll be sure to count our blessings!

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