SPICE ROUTE NOW KICKS OFF IN BRITAIN.
RITAIN is exporting specialised British foods to unlikely destinations.
BTaylors of Harrogate this year sent their first shipment of Yorkshire Tea to China. The company already does business in 30 countries, but a spokesman said it was like "sending coals to Newcastle".
Food and drink exports were worth PS18.9 billion last year. Beer, lager and stout brought in PS630 million from demand around the world, with Ilkley Brewery selling Yorkshire beer to bars in Georgia and Tennessee.
We've been sending cheese to France and naan bread to India and, not surprisingly for a country with an ongoing passion for curry, we have become world famous for our chillies. More than 600 tons of them were exported in the first six months of this year, an increase of 216% since 2010, to countries like Mexico, Pakistan, India and Brazil.
Curry has almost become Britain's national dish. We have 9,000 take-aways and restaurants, celebrate a National Curry Week (although I do that every week), and 23 million of us eat it regularly. And while we all assume it is an ethnic dish from the Indian sub-continent, it is actually, an amalgam of Indian cooking with the British taste for stew.
Kari was discovered by the Portuguese in Southern India in the 17th century. It was a thin spiced sauce used as a dressing for meat and vegetables. The British followed on to the sub-continent and imported chillies from Mexico and South America and kari became curry, as a sort of spiced stew. The first recipe in English was published in 1747.
"The British took spices all across the world and started growing them in different countries," says celebrity television chef Cyrus Todiwala. "And now we are a nation with so much spice that, when Indians go back to India for holidays, we take spices back with us."
Which again, seems a bit like taking coals to Newcastle, a phrase that has been around since the 16th century when the area around Newcastle had so much coal it was already exporting the stuff.
One man who actually did take coals to Newcastle was Timothy Dexter in the 18th century. He was an uneducated American from Massachusetts, who married a rich widow and became an entrepreneur. He was despised by fellow businessmen and embarked on a series of mad ventures that amazingly turned out successful.
"We have famous for He exported warming pans to the West Indies where they were sold as ladles; stray cats to Caribbean islands to combat rats; and he sold whalebone, that he had acquired by mistake, to corset manufacturers.
His detractors jokingly suggested he carry coals to Newcastle from America so he did and made a fortune!
become world our chillies " He arrived in the middle of a miners' strike and there was a coal shortage.
Compared to that, Yorkshire tea to China and chillies to Mexico are no longer so far-fetched.
"We have become world famous for our chillies "
Celebrity TV chef Cyrus Todiwala
More than 600 tons of chillies were exported from Britain in the first |six months of this year to countries like Mexico, Pakistan and India