SERVES 1 or 2

Ah, those Brits…before the era of four-star gastropubs got ushered in, they spent centuries as the butt of culinary punchlines. Still there are some old Anglo standbys — like the classic ploughman’s lunch, for instance — that require absolutely no fussing and gussying. A hearty “composed plate,” the ploughman’s is one of my favorite midday noshes, whether I’m at home or on the road: partly because it’s dead simple (no cooking required) and partly because it’s endlessly adaptable. (Seriously: dig out those funky condiments you bought on impulse and then pushed to the back of the fridge.) There’s no recipe, really; just assemble a few of the basics — a chunk of cheese (maybe a Cotswold, stilton, or cheddar); a few wheaty crackers or slices of thick bread; wedges of tart, crisp apple; some marigold english mustard and a scoopful of piccalilli or pickle relish — and go on and improvise the rest. Think of it as your own personal picnic.

1 wedge Guinness cheddar (Iconoclastic, yes, but St. Patrick’s Day is this week and I couldn’t resist)
1 wedge cotswold or double glouster
1 apple, sliced (I used a NY state macintosh)
6 Ryvita crackers
1 teaspoon Coleman’s mustard
1 teaspoon mango chutney
6 pickled onions
6 cornichons

Arrange on a plate. Pour yourself a pint. Eat.


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