British Cuisine

The Royal Wedding + Crass Commercialism: Commemorative Plates, Throne Up Bags + Pieminister Pies

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Thu, Apr 28, 2011 at 5:00 PM
click to enlarge Kate and Wills pie - PIEMINISTER
  • Pieminister
  • Kate and Wills pie

The British do so many things better than us: Table manners, diction, the drug-addled teens-gone-wild television series, Skins. One thing we can beat them at hands down? Pop culture exploitation. Here, something as minor as Charlie Sheen losing his mind happens and suddenly all you see are Tiger Blood t-shirts, bumper stickers that announce I'm Not Bipolar, I'm Bi-Winning, and the Edison starts featuring the His Extremely Highball cocktail. (Full disclosure: bartender Joseph Brooke invented this head-spinning combination of Whistlepig, Cointreau, Ginger syrup and fresh-squeezed lemon juice at the request of Caroline on Crack for Squid Ink. But, as reported in the post, they were already serving Adonis DNA. and Tiger's Blood drinks in New York and Chicago.)

American dominance at crass gravy train-jumping commercialism was never made so clear as during our recent visit to London. There, Royal Wedding fever seemed primly contained to tabloid headlines and kiosks in Convent Garden whose racks held a meek offering of Wills and Kate emblazoned mugs, a couple of commemorative plates, a tiny ceramic bell with Prince William's coat of arms stamped on it. Pie? Turn the page.

Nowhere to be seen were the Crown Jewels Condoms of Distinction with blurbs suggesting "lie back and think of England" that were sniffily derided as "tasteless" by royal commentators. (Our hearts sank, however, when we discovered that the promising-sounding Royal Wedding "Throne Up Bags" available only online was more of an art project for UK graphic artist, Lydia Leith, and that, when interviewed, Leith said, "The bags are just a bit of fun, a sort of antidote to the hysteria surrounding the wedding -- I'm not an anti-monarchist in the slightest!" and, most disappointing of all, she hoped no one actually used the paper sacks for vomiting purposes.)

So you can only imagine how our tackiness cravings were finally satisfied when we stumbled across a special Royal Wedding limited edition pie for only £3.25 at the local Sainsbury's supermarket! The presentation of the single-serving cockney treat containing British beef, wine, bacon, pearl onions, mushrooms and "a dash of brandy in lovely pastry," may have been a little bit earnest. But at least the box announced itself as "Pieminister Kate & Wills Commemorative Pie," featured barnyard animals holding cutlery and fluttering Union Jack flags.

God Save the Kitsch.

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