The Sunday Roast: A Brief History & Best Of
We invented The Sunday Roast.
And like most things in British history, it’s basically all thanks to the Church. And bakeries. We’ll get back to why in just a moment.
For now, let’s talk about the would-be 241 year old William Kitchener. Because along with literally inventing the crisp and crafting 11 of the earliest known recipes for ketchup in his 1822 ‘bestselling’ recipe book, The Cook’s Oracle, he was a sort of Victorian era Gillian McKeith. Except with an actual doctorate.
Kitchener’s notoriety as a respectable chef led to a surge in meat consumption across the UK after he proclaimed in 1871 that: everyone should aim to eat 3kg of meat per week, along with a pint of beer every day and 2kg of bread. That’s eight standard French baguettes every 24 hours – nutrition has come a long way. Nevertheless people listened, and among those who could afford it, roasted beef with bread became a standard household dinner.
Now back to the Church, and bakeries.
The things is, only at the end of the 19th Century did the roast’s place as a Sunday ritual become solidified. And to put it in a nutshell, it’s all thanks to a) the whole escapade being a particularly indulgent way to break the fast after Church, and b) the fact that bakeries didn’t make bread on a Sunday. Meaning that housewives without a fully functioning spit lying around at home could take advantage of their local bread maker’s empty ovens – dropping off their own cuts of meat early in the morning, and picking them up, perfectly roasted, on the way back from the service.
So The Sunday Roast was born.
And the trimmings? Well, Yorkshire puds were originally an appetiser, cooked underneath the meat on the spit as a way of catching dripping juices as it rotated; and potatoes had already undergone a tremendous surge in popularity following King Henry VIII’s proclamation of their supposed aphrodisiacal properties.
That very, very old dog.
So there you have it, a brief history of the noble Sunday Roast, a meal so improved upon over time that it now – like any notable cuisine – deserves a ‘best of’ list.
And that’s here: London’s Best Sunday Roasts.
Like your meats? Peruse our list of the most underrated steak restaurants in London