The Jealous Crumpet

A sweet little blog


Eating In London:Westminster Arms


Mary Poppins has been digitally added to this photograph in order to create a more accurate view of the London skyline.

Over the Christmas holidays my husband, my sister-in-law and I jetted away for a whirlwind, two day trip to London. We were going to spend several days in the city, but (London Fun Fact) the trains shut down on Christmas Eve Eve (Dec. 23rd) so we shortened the trip.

Since we only had two days we hit the highlights and stuck to the most stereotypically touristy parts of London: Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, fish and chips, tea, etc., but it was still immensely fun.

Now let’s be honest, Great Britain isn’t exactly known for their culinary prowess. True they have tea, scones, and fish and chips, all of which are lovely, but they also have a mysterious, slightly scary, tar-like substance called Marmite, which I’ve gathered you eat on toast (Is it like jam or closer to peanut butter?) and Stargazy Pie, which maybe delicious, but honestly just looks terrifying. (Are you supposed to eat the fish heads?) My point being, I had very mixed expectations when it came to English cuisine.


By Krista – Baked Stargazy Pie Uploaded by Diadoco, CC by 2.0

I am happy to report that most of the dishes were wonderfully delicious and I would eat them again.  That being said, I played it pretty safe and avoided the fish head pies and jellied eels (look it up).


A view of what my husband was convinced was London Bridge, but was in fact not London Bridge. It was London Bridge adjacent.

In the morning went sightseeing, shot the obligatory photo at Big Ben, toured Westminster Abbey with an audio recording by Jeremy Irons (fancy), complained about the pesky tourists (Wow, Americans are SO loud! Sorry rest of the world), and in general enjoyed this wonderful, exciting city.

When we finally decided to stop for lunch we had no plan, so we picked the first interesting place we across: Westminster Arms. Apparently we picked well because in addition to being frequented by politicians and journalists, it has also been visited by Desmond Tutu, Angelina Jolie and Bill Clinton. All of this I learned after I got back to the States.Untitled-1We walked downstairs to the crowded restaurant portion of the pub and I fully expected to be turned away or a long wait.

“Are you here to eat?” asked a man brusquely.  He definitely seemed like the owner, so from henceforth I will refer to him as such.

“Yes” I answered.  I reined in my Americanness and said it with polite, deference rather than the exuberant, enthusiasm I’m used to in the States. Polite, deference would never fly at T.G.I.Fridays. They waitstaff would harass you until you faked absolute bliss to be eating artichoke dip. Being an American can be exhausting, who wants to be that upbeat and energetic all the time.

The owner walked up to a table filled with pint sipping patrons and said to the people “These people are eating, you need to leave.”

My husband and I were shocked, but the people seemed to take it in stride, got up and headed upstairs so we could take their table.  I guess it is tavern protocol.

I ordered the most tourist dish possible, fish and chips, which was more for the mashed peas than the fish and chips. I’ve tasted canned Mushy, which I wasn’t a fan off, but it made me want to try the real stuff. As I suspected, real mushy peas are delicious! Of course the fish and chips were also wonderful. 9My husband went for the second most touristy dish, bangers and mash, which was also quite good. I’d like to visit again and try something less obvious, but overall everything was well-cooked and plated.   Untitled-1a The tavern itself was nice with booths, tables and a bar at the front. Everything was covered in wood and complimented with appropriate art and decor.

The ladies’ toilets were also an adventure.  There was a sink with two facets: one for hot water and one for cold water, but none for comfortable temperature water.  I’ve been told this is fairly common in Great Britain, but this was the only sink I encountered like this, granted I was only there for 2 days.IMG_2737The restroom also had charming wall art to keep you entertained during your visit. IMG_2736I’m not sure what ‘cor scrummy’ means but I take it to mean something good.  ‘Sexy’ maybe, ‘tasty’, it’s possible.  If anyone knows please feel free to educate me.

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More Mushy Peas Please!

Mushy Peas

Mushy Peas

I’ve always been fascinated with British cuisine, as you may have guessed from the title of my blog.

It started as a child.  I loved English fiction, especially the Secret Garden, Oliver Twist, and anything by Roald Dahl.  I loved these books so much that at 8 my life goal was to be an impoverished, English orphan.  Unfortunately for me, I was a middle-class, american child with two living parents.  My mother was quite disturbed when I told her I wanted to be an orphan.

But other than concerning my mother, English literature left me with a fascination of the dishes described in these books. I had no idea what trifles, crumpets, or custards were, but they sounded amazing.  And throughout my life, I have continued to be intrigued with British cuisine despite its stereotypical bad reputation.

In an attempt to separate fact from fiction of English cuisine, I decided to taste test popular British dish, mushy peas (mashed peas, often canned).

Batchelor's Mushy

The green splat on the can gave me flash backs to Nickelodeon in the 1990s.

According the BBC’s recipe website mushy peas are a quintessential British dish, often served with pies and roasts. They are made of marrowfat peas, which is a large pea that is harvested after it has dried out on the vine.  The dried peas are then ground up, rehydrated, seasoned, colored green (otherwise they would be a grayish color) and canned.  You can also enjoy marrowfat peas as the main ingredient in the Asian snack wasabi peas.

In order to have the quintessential British experience, I purchased a can of Bachelor’s brand peas called “Mushy Original”.  I don’t know if “original” means the flavor and there are other flavors like cool ranch OR if “Mushy” is the original brand of mushy pea’s and everything else is a substitute.  Like Dr. Thunder, as oppose to the original Dr. Pepper.

I read instructions on the can and immediately ran into an issue.  The instructions said to cook the peas on a “hob”.  A quick dictionary check revealed that a hob is “a projection or shelf at the back or side of a fireplace, used for keeping food warm”… I definitely don’t have one of those.  Do all British homes have this?!?  Eventually, I found a British-English to American-English translator and discovered a hob can also be a stove top, which I do have.

I poured the contents of the can into a small pan and slowly warmed it on my ‘hob’ as instructed.  I didn’t have a roast or pie to eat the peas with, but I figured I could at least get an idea.


Mushy on the hob. I think that is the most British thing I have ever typed.

My first spoonful tasted exactly as you would have imagine warm, mushy peas from a can to taste like.  I didn’t hate them, and I could almost see if you had grown-up with mushy peas how they could be a comfort food, being warm and mushy like mashed potatoes, but they were a bit hard to enjoy.  I think this was because they were warm, season-less peas out a can and really how could that be a good thing.

I’m going to give them a 4 out of 10, mostly because they were really easy to make.

I think I’ll taste test a dessert (pudding) next.  Maybe a trifle.


Disclaimer-The surrounding peas in this picture are snap peas, not marrowfat peas, but marrowfat peas are not very pretty, so I cheated. Welcome to the world of food photography.

I purchased my mushy peas at the local grocery story in the international section, but you can also find them on amazon.

If you need more mushy goodness, check out this 1994 advert for Batchelor’s Mushy.