· culture ·

Alongside regional accents, derelict railway stations, and genuine Green Men, one of the other unique things Brum has to offer is a regional delicacy: the oatcake. Strictly speaking, the oatcake is a Staffordshire speciality, but they are also widely available and enthusiastically consumed in Birmingham too. These oatcakes are nothing like the Scottish variety. I've always found those dry biscuits to have all the flavour and texture of shredded cardboard. Staffordshire oatcakes are more like a pancake or crèpe, — made with oatmeal rather than wheat flour — and are totally delicious. I'm sure that they are best eaten freshly made, but even the packaged oatcakes sold in supermarkets are wonderful if you warm them under a grill for a few minutes.

Oatcakes are versatile, and equally happy filled with sweet or savoury stuff. Mr. Bsag — who likes to have his cake and eat it — has taken to having one oatcake spread with Marmite and one spread with jam in the morning. I like a little cheese sprinkled on mine before it goes under the grill — it makes a wonderful warming lunch in our superb, balmy English summer^1^. The oatcake has all of the goodness of porridge as a breakfast food, without any of the associated burnt-pan difficulties or the unpleasantly leaden feeling that a bowl of porridge can leave you with. In fact, the oatcake is pretty much perfect. They are even good for commuting, because you can fold one up into a neat little package to consume on the run, without getting jam all over your fingers. Unfortunately, for those of you not lucky enough to live in the Midlands, you might have to make a long trip to experience it.

^1^ Heavy sarcasm should be added here.