Recently I have been drinking a lot of ginger beer. Always willing to attempt to live a healthier lifestyle, I’ve been exploring some non-alcoholic options to pair with my meals. One of the great assets of ginger beer is that unlike other soft drinks the fiery kick you get from the ginger seems to hit the same spot that alcohol does. However, it’s not quite the same is it? If you still want to drink, all the suggestions below pair just as well with alcoholic ginger beers such as Crabbie’s or even a Moscow Mule.
Fish and Chips
I’ll always remember two pieces of advice passed down to me from my grandfather: (1) it’s always harder to try to get out of doing work than it is to just do the work; and (2) the best drink to accompany fish and chips is a cup of tea. It took many years but the first lesson has, I hope, well and truly sunk in and I’m sure he’s right on that one. But he’s dead wrong about the fish and chips! The best drink to have with fish and chips is ginger beer.
I’ll admit that this is a new one for me. If I was at home or somewhere serving alcohol then I would have a beer with my fish and chips but recently I had an ice-cold Bundaberg Ginger Beer with my fish supper and it was a revelation. The ginger flavour really added to the overall taste of the meal. Thinking that I can’t be the only one that’s noticed this, I went onto the internet to check it out. The numerous recipes for ginger-beer battered fish and chips proves that I’m not alone on this one.
I love tacos. But I do have to caveat this by saying that I love the tacos I make at home. Living in the UK, I can honestly say I’ve never been to a really good Mexican restaurant. “You just haven’t been to the right restaurant” I hear you say; yes, I know, that’s what I’m saying. There must be good Mexican food out there, I just haven’t found it. As with the fish and chips, I used to always pair my tacos with beer, however, ginger beer goes really well with tacos. Again, the ginger adds an extra flavour to the meal. Of course, there’s a lot more to Mexican cuisine than tacos – I just happen to love them!
My grandfather had no words of wisdom to pass on about the best drink to go with tacos but I’m pretty sure it would have been a cup of tea. He’s of the generation that believes the most refreshing drink on the hottest summer days is a cup of tea. As he was fond of reminding everyone, cups of tea and salt pills were enough to see off Rommel in the desert. Maybe he’s got a point?
British Indian Cuisine
Nothing beats poppadoms and lager. This should go without saying but just in case it needs to be said, I have already written an article all about it. Having said this, the ginger flavours go exceedingly well with spicy curries. It must be that they complement the ginger already in the food. If you don’t or can’t drink alcohol and you’re off to the curry house or ordering in, think about getting some ice cold ginger beers in to enjoy with the meal. Go for one of the fuller flavoured brews like the Australian Bundaberg. Unfortunately, ginger beers are rarely on the drinks menu at most British Indian Restaurants (BIR).
British Chinese Cuisine
Chinese restaurant and takeaway cuisine is notoriously difficult to pair with wine. The short answer to which wine is best paired with Chinese food is often facetiously given as beer. There are, of course, good wines that stand up to the strong flavours and go with the meal. Rieslings and pinot noirs are usually a good option. However, as with the BIR cuisine discussed above, ginger beer goes very well with Chinese dishes. Again, as with the British Indian Restaurant, ginger beer is sadly not commonly found on the drinks menus. There’s nothing stopping you at home though!
Ginger beer pairs really well with a good, strong mature cheddar. Other cheese varieties pair well too. Try your favourite ginger beer with a blue-veined Gorgonzola or a crumbly Wensleydale. You won’t go far wrong with Wallace and Gromit’s favourite washed-rind cheese, Stinking Bishop.
Ginger beer can not only stand up well to strong and spicy flavours but the ginger itself adds to the overall flavour of the meal. The fiery bite of the drink makes for a more palatable alternative to alcoholic drinks that are usually drunk not only to quench thirst but to add to the meal itself. Get some ginger beer in the fridge and the next time you’re enjoying a takeaway, give it a try. Cups of tea may have been enough to tackle Rommel but you’re having a nice dinner not refighting the Second Battle of El Alamein.