The traditional Sunday lunch is a truly special occasion. A time to gather your family together around a table heaving with food, it’s like a little Christmas feast, but every week.
Sunday lunch is a proper old British tradition, and one that will never die out. The story goes that families would put their joint in the oven before going to church, to then come home after the service to a perfectly roasted piece of meat. A special meal following a Sunday church service is common across Europe; however no one else has taken this to their hearts quite like the British. After all, we’ve been known as “les rosbifs” by the French for centuries for our love of this particular Sunday joint.
Nigel Slater writes lovingly that “few sounds spell comfort as loudly as a joint gently hissing and spitting in the oven”. This is true; however, the trimmings are just as important for the perfect Sunday roast. Each meat comes with its own accompaniments – Yorkshire pudding and horseradish with beef, sage and onion stuffing and apple sauce with pork, mint with lamb… Modern chefs can give exciting contemporary twists to the Sunday dinner, but heaven help them if they leave out the roast potatoes! And of course, even though you’ve eaten more than you have done in the previous six days put together, no Sunday lunch is complete without dessert, ideally a hot pudding.
The Sunday roast tradition is enduring, whatever your usual style or tastes are – even Heston abandons snail porridge every Sunday night to roast a chicken for his children. There has been some debate recently that the family get-together over a pile of roast potatoes may be on the wane. ‘We don’t sit round the table any more’, ‘the national dish is pasta’, ‘we’re too busy’, ‘we eat out more’, ‘we get together in the evening not on a Sunday…’ These may be true, but anyone doubting the popularity of a roast just needs to walk past a restaurant or pub at one o’clock on a Sunday afternoon.
Everyone has childhood memories of sitting down at the table on a Sunday; however these days, the table is just as likely to be away from the family kitchen. Many restaurants and pubs offer a special menu on a Sunday, and families look forward to enjoying the conviviality of the meal without the dreaded roasting tray washing up session that usually follows. Sunday lunch “out” is a treat, something to look forward to after a busy week. From the carveries of the seventies to the rise of the gastropub in the nineties, eating out on a Sunday has become as much of a British habit as the home-cooked roast.
Like other lasting traditions, Sunday lunch has had to adapt to survive. One of the biggest changes to the traditional format is the addition of the “vegetarian option”. A few years ago, the poor veggie at the table would be presented with a nut roast, baked in a panic by someone who had never eaten one, and had no intention of ever even trying it. That is happily no longer the case, as much care now goes into a vegetarian Wellington as a beef one. When dining out for Sunday lunch, fish is often offered as well as meat, especially down here in Cornwall where it can be cooked at its freshest.
Even in Cornwall, Sunday lunch takes over from the pasty for a day! With so much of the county being farmed, sourcing excellent locally-reared meat and fresh, seasonal vegetables is easy. At The Cornwall, we keep up the tradition of the Sunday lunch each week. Served in the award-winning Arboretum Restaurant, our chef makes full use of Cornwall’s wonderful larder of produce, serving up a delectable roast dinner every Sunday.
One of the many lovely things about Sunday lunch with us (apart from the excellent food of course) is that you can “walk it off” in the wooded estate afterwards. As we all know, walking or sleeping off the roast is as much a part of Sunday lunch as eating it.