Bring us in Good Ale

It’s the most drinkiest time of the year, to paraphrase a song you will have heard in your local shopping centre recently. Up and down good Englande are men and women bothe mery with ale and wine and jagermeister shottes.

What is wrong with the English, my wife asks in exasperation, why do they just want to drink and not eat with it? What’s the fun in that? Liberal broadsheets and television chefs have been asking the same question for years – why don’t we act more like our continental cousins and enjoy good drink with good food? Why can’t we be more like the French with their copious drinking and eating? Or the Spanish, with their Tapas with every drink?

Alas, had my wife or Jamie Oliver, or the Guardian leader writer visited England in the 15th century, they would have fared (geddit?) no better. England was then, as now, full of inveterate drinkers who did not want to interrupt their drinking with eating, as this drinking song proves:

 

Bring us in good ale and bring us in good ale

and for our blessed Lady’s sake, bring us in good ale

 

Bring us in no brown bread for that is full of brane

Nor bring us in no whit bread, for therein is no game

But bring us in good ale.

 

Bring us in no befe for ther is many bones

But bring us in good ale, for that goth downe at once

And bring us in good ale

 

Bring us in no bacon for that is passing fat

But bring us in good ale and bring us inought of that

And bring us in good ale

 

Bring us in no mutton for that is passing lene

Nor bring us in no tripes, for they be seldom clene

But bring us in good ale

 

Bring us in no egges for ther ar many shelles

But bring us in good ale and give us nothing ells

And bring us in good ale

 

Bring us in no butter for therin ar many heres

Nor bring us in no pigges flesh for that will make us boeys

But bring us in good ale

 

Bring us in no poddings for therein is all gotes blod

Nor bring us in no venison for that is not for our good

But bring us in good ale

 

Bring us in no capon’s flesch for that is ofte der

Nor bring us in no dokes flesh for they slobber in the mer

But bring us in good ale.

 

And there is something else there that hasn’t changed throughout the centuries – damning opinions of English cuisine, from eggs full of shells to butter with hairs in, dull bread, skinny mutton, dirty tripe…and so on. It’s no wonder we’re a nation of drinkers.

I do like the sound of those goat’s blood black puddings though.

And here – once again – is a musical version!

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