Heston’s Great British Food - TV review: Hot stuff from Heston as he reinvents Britain’s curry house dishes
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Friday 09 May 2014
Heston Blumenthal’s food shows always make for spectacular television, but Heston’s Great British Food (Channel 4) can claim an additional triumph: it has succeeded in restoring pride to Britain’s national cuisine. How can dishes such as fish and chips, roast beef and sticky toffee pudding be dull and uninspiring, when each has served as inspiration for one of Heston’s fabulous feasts? The return of the show for a second series also proves Britain isn’t out of foodie favourites yet – even if this episode’s curry theme did seem a bit of a stretch.
Curry is from India, yes? Well, no, not quite. Most of the curry house pioneers were actually from Bangladesh, not India, and, as Heston was informed by restaurateur Enam Ali, the deliciously inauthentic likes of chicken tikka masala and onion bhaji were both invented on these shores. So, much like the Birmingham-produced bhangra-pop hit “Mundian to Bach Ke”, which we heard on the soundtrack, Heston’s curry episode was a celebration of the culture of second, third and fourth-generation British-Asians.
The food history sections were full of fascinating morsels, since even before the Second World War instigated a wave of mass immigration, Britain had a culinary relationship with India. This has resulted in Victorian Anglo-Indian concoctions of varying tastiness, like kedgeree (yum), mulligatawny (passable) and devilled kidneys (the very work of Satan). In conversation with Heston, the author and historian Shrabani Basu, also scandalously hinted at an affair between Queen Victoria and her Indian Secretary Abdul Karim. For it was he who first introduced her maj to that known aphrodisiac – a massive curry. If Karim’s poppadum’s were as impressively over-sized as Heston’s, we can hardly blame her.
It wasn’t this tittle-tattle, which made Heston’s famous glasses – literally – mist over, however. That visual spectacle took place after he bit into a moruga scorpion chili, aka “the hottest chili in the world”. As if his discomfort wasn’t evident enough from his crimson cheeks and steamed-up specs, Heston also managed a mind-bending description for the viewer: “Ooh, I’ve just found a couple of radiators at either side of my head!”
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 2 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Spiritual leader allegedly manipulated 400 men into removing testicles to be 'closer to God'
Poldark star Heida Reed says show is not that racy: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
Broadchurch series 3: David Tennant and Olivia Colman to return for third season, ITV confirms
Harris' List of Covent Garden Ladies: Georgian guide to London sex workers acquired by Wellcome Collection
House of Cards season 3: Claire Underwood is based on an eagle, says Robin Wright
Game of Thrones season 5 spoilers: What we can expect according to George RR Martin's books
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut