I once had a friend – and I use the past tense conspicuously – who, when I suggested a walk and a pub Sunday roast, told me she didn’t like Sunday roasts. Did not like Sunday roasts. I don’t know the specific medical terminology for this pathology, but I hope she is getting the help she needs. I imagine so, because the waiting list must be very short.
I’m never happier than when diving into a moat of gravy. If it were possible, I would shrink myself and jump merrily into the middle of a giant, squishy yorkshire pudding, like a kid on a bouncy castle.
Originally the roast was an after-church meal (hence the Sunday). I think often about how frustrating it is that they are limited to just one day of the week, and where this ranks on the world scale of injustice (high).
Brits are such big fans of the roast that, in one survey about what we are most proud of, it came in at No 16. Yorkshire puds alone came it at No 9. To put this into context, that’s ahead of Stonehenge, the Royal family, and Shakespeare.
As a vegetarian, I am sometimes accused of not taking full advantage of all the roast has to offer, whether that’s beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey or other meats. But this ignores the fact that the increasing quality of available nut roasts and butternut squash wellingtons tempts even carnivores. It is not uncommon for me to find, these days, that the veggie roasts have run out. (I am sure you can imagine my reaction.) There are also cook books and columns full of home options: Nigella’s roast stuffed pumpkin; or our own Nigel Slater’s parsnip loaf.
Of course, as with the best meals, the joy of a Sunday roast isn’t merely about what is on one’s plate. It is the act of gathering, and the company one shares. Whether it is a friend hosting and pulling a disparate collection of chairs together to accommodate pals around a too-small table, or meeting up one-on-one with an old mate one hasn’t seen for ages, tucking into potatoes and life events. For me, the best roasts are enjoyed after an appetite has been built up on a muddy stroll. The afternoon is spent reading at home, top trouser button undone. Utterly sated.
Or perhaps not quite sated, given how handy the surplus can be to fold into bubble and squeak, or sandwiches. Truly, the gift that keeps on giving. And a deserving matter of national pride.