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The World Cup Dream May Be Over… But The Music Lives On

In just a matter of hours, World Cup 2014 will be over. Who will emerge victorious – Argentina or Germany? It won’t be England, that’s for sure! And the irony of two of England’s biggest sporting nemeses battling it out in the final isn’t lost on me.

 

I recently announced that I’ve accepted that I will never see England win the World Cup in my lifetime – which makes me wish that I’d been born before 1966! However, as this was the first time in fifty six years that England crashed out in the group stages, at least I can say I witnessed a piece of sporting history. That’s me – definitely a glass half full kind of girl!

 

However, despite almost fifty years of hurt (and shame) I’ve decided to give England one last chance. No, not to win the World Cup. I know I’m never going to see that happen, but to play much better than they did this year and to go much further in the tournament. We have four years to get over this setback, come up with a better strategy and a better team.

So, in a bid to cheer up disappointed England fans and to instil a sense of hope, I thought I’d share with you my four favourite awe-inspiring England World Cup songs. I remember there was always a great deal of excitement when the official England World Cup songs were released. Us kids would eagerly watch Top Of The Pops to check out the new tune and the feelings of anticipation and excitement were infectious – could this really be England’s year?

The tradition of the England World Cup songs began in 1966. The songs were released with the approval of the Football Association to coincide with the England national football team’s participation in the finals of the FIFA World Cup or the UEFA European Championship. Some of the official songs were surprisingly overshadowed by unofficial songs released around the same time. This year’s offering, Noble England was sung by the late Rik Mayall, who sadly passed away this year, making the song all the more poignant.

There are four songs that really stand out for me, and for which I feel there is probably no need for any more England World Cup.

1. Vindaloo, Fat Les

Released in 1998, this actually eclipsed the official song (How Does It Feel To Be) On Top Of The World, written by Ian McCulloch and performed by England United (Echo and the Bunnymen, Space, Spice Girls, Simon Fowler.) To be honest it wasn’t really much of a surprise as although the England United song is a great tune, it lacked that special something. Whereas Fat Les’s Vindaloo was humourous and is exactly the kind of thing you’d sing in the pub after a few pints. Performed by British band Fat Les, the music was written by Blur bassist Alex James while the lyrics were written by Keith Allen (lilly and Alfie’s dad!) Although it’s mainly just a series of chants and “nah-nah-nahs”, the song has remained a cult classic.

2. Three Lions, The Lightning Seeds/Baddiel & Skinner

Believe it or not, Fat Les’s anthem wasn’t the only unofficial tune that year to outdo the official England World Cup song. Three Lions, written by Frank Skinner and David Baddiel, was originally released in 1996 as the official song for UEFA European Championship. It was such a hit, it was brought out again two years later for the World Cup, though not as the official song. Not that it mattered too much because everyone thought it was! And to be honest it’s pretty much remained England’s anthem for every tournament – the lyrics say it all. It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming – football’s coming home… OK so it never does, but we can always hope!

3. World In Motion, New Order feat. The England Squad

I don’t care what anyone says; this should be the song the players sing before the start of the match not the national anthem (no disrespect.) If ever there was an upbeat number to get you fired up and cause some damage on the pitch, this would be it. The only problem would be that the players would squabble over who should do Barnesy’s rap! Released in 1990 for the FIFA World Cup, it was written by New Order and Keith Allen, and topped the charts. This tune is my joint fave along with Three Lions, and brings back so many wonderful memories. How I long for it to be 1990 again!

4. Goldenballs (Mr. Beckham To You) Bell and Spurling

OK, so this wasn’t actually an official or unofficial song for any football tournament, but rather an ode to David Beckham, who was a fantastic footballer and icon, and the George Best of my generation (but without the excess!) by comedy duo Martin Bell and Johnny Spurling. It was released in 2002 and only got as far as number 25 in the charts, but I still reckon it’s a great tune. My then twelve year old brother could not stop singing the chorus which drove us all mad but as I said – top tune!

And now – let the finals begin!

 

 

 
 

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Comfort Food #7: French Toast

 

You wouldn’t believe how something so inexpensive and so simple to make could be so tasty!

Even now when I bite into a warm slice of just-out-of-the-pan French toast, it brings back such wonderfully comforting memories. We never grew up calling this delicious snack eggy bread like most people did; instead it was the more fanciful French toast. And until today, I didn’t realise that it was also called Gypsy toast!

Mmm... Yummy French toast!

Mmm… Yummy French toast!

 

I think I might have been about five when Mum first made this for me and my sister. I was a very fussy eater and it was very difficult for my mum to get me to eat anything. I’d never finish meals and would only ever pick at my food. However, when I first tried French toast it was definitely love at first bite! I couldn’t get enough of this yummy fried bread. It was quite good for my parents because growing up, we didn’t really have a great deal of money, so Mum must have been thrilled that the one thing I wanted to stuff my face with was as cheap as… well, a loaf of bread! French toast was very much a firm favourite in our house when I was growing up, not just with me but with all of us.

French toast: my first attempt in as long time

French toast: my first attempt in as long time

 

That’s hardly a surprise considering that French toast is eaten practically all over the world, so it really is a very popular dish. It’s unclear where or when this dish was created and by whom. It may not even have originated in France!

The basic ingredients for French toast: eggs, milk, bread, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon

The basic ingredients for French toast: eggs, milk, bread, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon

 

The earliest form of French toast is believed to have originated as far back as the fourth century, when it was found in a collection of Latin recipes. In Sweden, Finland and Norway, French Toast is known as ‘poor knights’ after the fourteenth century German name for this dish Arme Ritter.

The sweet egg and milk mixture

The sweet egg and milk mixture

 

My love for French toast took on another dimension when I met my husband and began my frequent trips to visit him in the States. As an American, he’d been eating French toast his entire life – well since he was old enough to eat anyway! But there were two major differences: in America, French toast is eaten as a breakfast food rather than an anytime snack, accompanying bacon and eggs, and served with lots of maple syrup. Furthermore, French toast in the States is always a sweet dish whereas Mum’s French toast was always savoury. In fact, I don’t think I know anyone other than Mum who made the savoury version.

French toast cooking away!

French toast cooking away!

 

My love for French toast took on another dimension when I met my husband and began my frequent trips to visit him in the States. As an American, he’d been eating French toast his entire life – well since he was old enough to eat anyway! But there were two major differences: in America, French toast is eaten as a breakfast food rather than an anytime snack, accompanying bacon and eggs, and served with lots of maple syrup. Furthermore, French toast in the States is always a sweet dish whereas Mum’s French toast was always savoury. In fact, I don’t think I know anyone other than Mum who made the savoury version.

And into the pan they go!

And into the pan they go!

 

I saw an episode of Nigella Express where she made jam doughnut-flavoured French toast. I didnt even know such a thing existed! It sounded like a fried piece of heaven and I cannot wait to get stuck into that. French toast may be quite a simple concept but with so many variations it has become something quite spectacular. I’ve heard that there are even French toast cupcakes! I’ve never seen one before nor eaten one but I plan on rectifying that situation!

With a good bit of Butter! Image from pixabay.com courtesy of s_masako

With a good bit of Butter! Image from pixabay.com courtesy of s_masako

 

I suppose it sounds as though I’m more geared towards sweet French toast but I do think both the sweet and savoury versions are equally tasty. I couldn’t choose between the two types. And neither could I choose between Mum’s savoury French toast and my brother-in-law Dizzy’s yummy sweet cinnamon version. So I’ve included the recipes for both. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

MUM’S SAVOURY FRENCH TOAST

Serves 1-2 people

INGREDIENTS:
2 slices of sliced white bread, cut in half, crusts on.
1 large egg
1 tbsp. semi skimmed milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for frying

METHOD:

  • Heat a little oil in a frying pan. just enough to stop the bread sticking to the pan.

  • Mix together egg, milk, salt and pepper in a bowl.

  • Plunge each piece of bread into the egg mixture so that it is well coated on both sides.

  • When pan is hot, add bread.

  • Cook until side is golden brown then flip over and cook the other side.

  • Eat!

Simple yet delicious!

Dizzy’s Cinnamon French Toast

French toast and syrup. Image from pixabay.com courtesy of annaj

French toast and syrup. Image from pixabay.com courtesy of annaj

 

Serves 1-2 people

INGREDIENTS:

2 slices cinnamon bread or cinnamon raisin bread

1 large egg

1 tsp. sugar

A dash of vanilla extract

Oil for frying

Butter and maple syrup to serve

METHOD:

  • Heat oil in pan.

  • Mix together egg, sugar and vanilla in a bowl.

  • Coat each side of the bread with the egg mixture.

  • Brown each side.

  • Serve with butter and maple syrup

Note: If you cannot find cinnamon bread, you can add a 1/4 tsp. of ground cinnamon to the egg mixture. Butter can be used instead of oil for frying, and the French toast can even be deep fried in very hot oil. All depends on how health conscious you want to be!

 
 

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