How to Eat (and Drink) Like the Queen: Royal Chefs Reveal Elizabeth II's Favorite Foods

Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images
Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

It’s good to be the Queen. Twice a week, Queen Elizabeth II browses a leather-bound menu of the latest meal suggestions from the royal family’s head chef, Mark Flanagan, and whichever items she checks off, she gets to eat. The Telegraph recently spoke with two former royal chefs who were ready to dish out the Queen’s most personal food tastes.

Mealtime at Buckingham Palace isn’t always the extravagant affair non-royals might assume it to be. As former personal chef to the Queen Darren McGrady told The Telegraph, her royal majesty is no foodie. “She eats to live,” he said. And even the delicacies she does enjoy don’t appear on her plate every day. “The Queen loved scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and a grating of truffle. But she was too frugal to ever order fresh truffles and only really enjoyed them at Christmas when the truffles were sent as a gift.” Instead, she prefers regular cereal like Special K with fresh fruit for a typical breakfast.

But even the most humble meals served to the Queen are held to high standards. When Owen Hodgson, who worked in the palace kitchen in the early 1990s, spoke to The Telegraph, he recalled the level of detail that went into a simple tuna fish sandwich. The crusts were removed, the bread was buttered on both sides, and the sandwiches were cut into eight identical triangles before they were fit for the Queen.

Of course, the royal diet includes the most classic of British culinary traditions, afternoon tea. Queen Elizabeth has a weakness for chocolate, and there’s usually chocolate perfection pie or chocolate biscuit cake included in the spread.

For dinner, she likes to keep things light with grilled fish like sole served with vegetables and a salad. On Sundays, she enjoys a roast, preferring the well-done end slice over something more rare. Ingredients from her farms, like white peaches from Windsor Castle and fillets of beef and venison from Sandringham and Balmoral, are often worked into the menu.

As for her preferred drink, it's a gin and Dubonnet with a slice of lemon. She also sometimes drinks wine with lunch, and reportedly enjoys a glass of champagne before bed.

In 2017, the royal palace made it a little easier to drink like the Queen when they made wine from her royal vineyard available for the public to purchase. Beyond that, you may need to hire a personal chef of your own to recreate her full experience.

[h/t The Telegraph]

A Shrine to Brine: The Mysterious Case of Missouri's Highway Pickle Jar

iStock.com/MorePixels
iStock.com/MorePixels

No one knows how it started. No one knows who was responsible. Some may even have dismissed it as an aberration, a glitch in the scenery that would soon be corrected. But eventually, drivers in and around Des Peres, Missouri who took a highway off-ramp connecting I-270 North to Manchester Road began to notice that a jar of pickles was sitting on a dividing barrier on the ramp. And it wasn’t going anywhere.

Since 2012, the pickle jar has confounded drivers and internet sleuths alike, according to Atlas Obscura. Some have speculated that someone was trying to send a secret message or share a private joke. Perhaps someone pulling off to the side due to car trouble felt the need to place the brine-filled jar on the concrete wall and then forgot about it. Maybe someone thought it would be a kind of three-dimensional graffiti, incongruous amid the bustling traffic. Maybe it’s an indictment of commerce.

Whatever the case, once the pickles appeared, advocates refused to let them go. Jars that end up toppled over or otherwise damaged are replaced. Sometimes they reappear in protective Tupperware or with a holiday-themed bow. Sightings are photographed for posterity and posted on a Facebook fan page devoted to the jar, which currently has over 4200 members and has morphed from a place to theorize about the mysterious jar's origins to a place where people swap pickle-related recipes and stories.

There are dry spells—no one has posted of a pickle sighting in several months—but followers remain optimistic the jar will continue to remain a presence in Des Peres even if the motivation for placing them near the roadway remains as murky as the briny juice inside.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

Why the Filet-O-Fish Sandwich Has Been on the McDonald's Menu for Nearly 60 Years

McDonald's has introduced and quietly killed many dishes over the years (remember McDonald's pizza?), but there's a core group of items that have held their spot on the menu for decades. Listed alongside the Big Mac and McNuggets is the Filet-O-Fish—a McDonald's staple you may have forgotten about if you're not the type of person who orders seafood from fast food restaurants. But the classic sandwich, consisting of a fried fish filet, tartar sauce, and American cheese on a bun, didn't get on the menu by mistake—and thanks to its popularity around Lent, it's likely to stick around.

According to Taste of Home, the inception of the Filet-O-Fish can be traced back to a McDonald's franchise that opened near Cincinnati, Ohio in 1959. Back then the restaurant offered beef burgers as its only main dish, and for most of the year, diners couldn't get enough of them. Things changed during Lent: Many Catholics abstain from eating meat and poultry on Fridays during the holy season as a form of fasting, and in the early 1960s, Cincinnati was more than 85 percent Catholic. Fridays are supposed to be one of the busiest days of the week for restaurants, but sales at the Ohio McDonald's took a nosedive every Friday leading up to Easter.

Franchise owner Lou Groen went to McDonald's founder Ray Kroc with the plan of adding a meat alternative to the menu to lure back Catholic customers. He proposed a fried halibut sandwich with tartar sauce (though meat is off-limits for Catholics on Fridays during Lent, seafood doesn't count as meat). Kroc didn't love the idea, citing his fears of stores smelling like fish, and suggested a "Hula Burger" made from a pineapple slice with cheese instead. To decide which item would earn a permanent place on the menu, they put the two sandwiches head to head at Groen's McDonald's one Friday during Lent.

The restaurant sold 350 Filet-O-Fish sandwiches that day—clearly beating the Hula Burger (though exactly how many pineapple burgers sold, Kroc wouldn't say). The basic recipe has received a few tweaks, switching from halibut to the cheaper cod and from cod to the more sustainable Alaskan pollock, but the Filet-O-Fish has remained part of the McDonald's lineup in some form ever since. Today 300 million of the sandwiches are sold annually, and about a quarter of those sales are made during Lent.

Other seafood products McDonald's has introduced haven't had the same staying power as the Filet-O-Fish. In 2013, the chain rolled out Fish McBites, a chickenless take on McNuggets, only to pull them from menus that same year.

[h/t Taste of Home]

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