The Sunday roast is an English tradition that dates back to the 1700s. It nearly always consists of some type of roasted meat in gravy: beef, pork and lamb are common and a medley of vegetables, potatoes and often a Yorkshire Pudding.
Yorkshire pudding is not to be confused with the British colloquialism that uses “pudding” in place of “dessert.” No, this is a baked crispy batter cup that’s hot and flakey and perfect for soaking up excess gravy.
The Sunday roast mid-afternoon meal seems to have died in America after the 1960s brought microwave TV dinners and more women working outside the home. Craig remembers his mother making a Sunday roast for their family every week without fail, layering fat and batter and pouring it into metal tins and popping them into the hot oven.
Craig drove me, his friend Emma and her two young daughters to the Mendip Inn in Radstock, its about 45 minutes outside Bristol on the edge of the Mendips.
The building itself is quaint, or as the Brits are fond of saying, “twee.” The parking lot was packed and the dining rooms were full of families enjoying a partially cloudy Sunday afternoon. The service was slow but we didn’t mind too much. The girls brought picture frames to color and a deck of cards. We played a few rounds of Old Maid all together and they played Spit. Emma’s husband recently died suddenly and unexpectedly. I’ve witnessed such compassion and support from Craig’s friends as they help Emma navigate her grief, childcare, funeral arrangements and generally keeping the ship steered in the right direction as Emma makes plans for the new version of her family and future.
Craig and Emma both ordered the pork, which was incredible. I was enviously I didn’t order it myself. I don’t always like mustard, but this sauce was spicy and light and delicious. The meat came with a side of pig cracklin’, Yorkshire pudding and carrots, broccoli and potatoes. I had the topside of beef with brown gravy, and while it was good, it played second fiddle to the pork. The girls ordered roast pork with the same gravy as me and brownies with salted caramel ice cream.
I don’t typically go for dessert but the Tropical and lime sphere spoke to Craig and he went for it. It was magnificent. A white chocolate cup with a graham cracker bottom contained two types of cream filling and looked like a white and green Death Star dessert. A side of mango sorbet was divine and the whole mess was drizzled in mango sauce.
We thought we might be able to go for a hike but the weather wasn’t cooperating with the idea. We did, however see a rainbow on the way home spread across the sky over the fields. Emma asked if I had heard of the Wurzles, a classic British old man band. I most certainly hadn’t and so as soon as we regained Cell reception I found a youtube video for Combine Harvester. It’s a classic.
I drove my tractor through your haystack last night
I threw me pitch fork at your dog to keep quiet
Now somethin's tellin' me, that you'm avoidin' me
Come on now, darlin', you got somethin' I need
'Cause I've got a brand new combine harvester and I'll give you the key
Come on now, let's get together in perfect harmony
Oh, I got twenty acres and you got forty-three
Now I've got a brand new combine harvester and I'll give you the key
She made I laugh, haha
I'll stick by you, I'll give you all that ya need
We'll have twins and triplets, I'm a man built for speed
And you know I'll love ya, darlin', so give me your hand
But the thing I want the most is all the acres of land
Phwoar, she's a lovely bit of stuff 'n all
For seven long years I've been alone in this place
Pigs sleep in the kitchen, it's a proper disgrace
Now if I cleaned it up, would ya change our mind?
I'll give up drinkin' scrumpy and that lager and lime
Who loves ya, baby, ha
Weren't we a grand couple at that last Wurzel Dance?
I wore brand new gaiters and me corduroy pants
In your new Sunday dress with your perfume smellin' grand
We had our photos taken, us holding hands
Arrr, you're a fine lookin' woman and I can't wait to get me hands on your land