Leading article: British and proud of it

Yorkshire people, for instance, are often thought boastful; but did you know the first powered flight was made near Scarborough in 1853 in an aircraft built by Sir George Cayley and piloted, prudently (it was Yorkshire), by his coachman? You don't hear much about that, though, do you? Or about the invention and use in Halifax of an instrument subsequently claimed by Dr Guillotin.

As you can see, then, a practical, unfussy approach - the British also came up with the corkscrew. And so it is with food, where our diffidence is especially excessive. Take the Cornish pasty. Bob Brown did. Mr Brown, 36, has just become the fastest Briton to cross the EU on foot: 3,000 miles in 55 days, fuelled by pasties, "because they were easy to hold on the run".

Exactly: you couldn't do that with fancy French stuff. There'd be gravy everywhere. And that's our gift to the world: plain food in its proper place as convenient means rather than indulgent end. Pies, sandwiches, fish and chips, and anything else battered for action, that's the thing. Pizza? Tarted up egg and bacon pie. (And I see they've started frying spaghetti.)

Unromantic? Guinevere munches on a pasty in one of the medieval idylls. Songs have been written about pies. How many trysts have been sealed by shared chips at the bus stop? Now, excuse me, as I have to go and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the fish finger in appropriate fashion. Yum!

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