A Taste Of Empire – The Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands - ArmsThe who, what, when and where of the discovery and colonisation of the Falkland Islands by Europeans is complex by anybody’s standards.

Over the decades the islands have had French, British, Spanish and Argentine settlements.

The country consists of many islands but principally east and west Falkland. Located close to the subantarctic and tundra climate zones both major islands have mountain ranges reaching 2,300 feet. Economic activities include fishing, tourism and sheep farming, with an emphasis on high-quality wool exports.

Falkland Islands - FlagThe population consists of native-born islanders, the majority of whom are British. Other ethnicities include French, Gibraltarian and Scandinavian.

The predominant (and official) language is English and under the British Nationality (Falkland Islands) Act 1983, Falkland Islanders are British citizens.

Falkland Islands - MapIn 1833, Britain asserted its rule once and for all, despite Argentinian counter-claims (a claim it maintains to this day) Indeed, in April 1982 the disagreement became an armed conflict when Argentina invaded the Falklands and other British territories in the South Atlantic, briefly occupying them until a UK expeditionary force retook the territories in June.

Government House

Government House

After the war, the United Kingdom expanded its military presence, building RAF Mount Pleasant and increasing the size of its garrison.

Concerned at the expense of maintaining the Falkland Islands in an era of budget cuts, the UK again considered transferring sovereignty to Argentina in the late seventies but sovereignty talks had again ended by 1981. Argentina and the UK re-established diplomatic relations in 1990 that have since deteriorated since neither can agree on the terms of future Falk 3sovereignty discussions. Indeed the disputes between the two governments have led some analysts “……[to] predict a growing conflict of interest between Argentina and Great Britain … because of the recent expansion of the fishing industry in the waters surrounding the Falklands”. Oil exploration, licensed by the Falkland Islands Government, remains controversial as a result of maritime disputes with Argentina.

The British Empire - MapBut be that as it may.

Despite some influences from when the Falkland Islands were under Spanish rule, much of the cuisine of the islands is generally British in nature.

The islanders pride themselves on offering home-cooked and traditional meals. When visiting Stanley, there are some restaurants and British-styled pubs, while food in the “camp” (anywhere outside of Stanley) is usually homegrown and home cooked.

Falk 2As an island nation, seafood is naturally popular in the Falkland Islands and the quality of such seafood is excellent. Dishes tend to include mussels, oysters, scallops and snow crabs. Favourite fish like sea trout and Atlantic rock are often grilled and served with fritters or steamed vegetables. And just as in Britain, fish and chips is an incredibly popular meal in the Falkland Islands with Stanley, the nation’s capital, having its own fish and chip shop.

diddledeeThe Islands are also known for quality organic meat that is ranched on the plains of the islands.  Lamb dishes are particularly noteworthy and are almost always served with fresh, local vegetables. Upland Goose paté is also a local speciality and the unique flavour of the Diddle-dee Berry (a bittersweet berry that is found in the Falklands as well as Chile and Argentina which islanders often make it into a jam because of its unique flavour) should be experienced if possible.

In Stanley the menus available at some 15 establishments offer a wide range of food from gourmet to home style cooking as well as standard pub books_003food, popular the world over, with a range of options including take-away outlets, cafes, British-style pubs and wine-and-dine restaurants.

Visitors to the “camp”, the Falklands word for anywhere outside of Stanley, are usually catered for by a full board accommodation option with hearty breakfasts, smokos, lunches and dinners all provided.

The smoko is a term used in Falkland Islands English for a short, often informal, cigarette break taken during work or military duty, although the term can also be used to describe any short break such as a rest or a coffee/tea break.

Falk 1The term is believed to have originated in the British Merchant Navy, and was in use as early as 1865. The term is still in use in the British Merchant Navy today. Although a slang term, the word smoko has been used in government writing and industrial relations reports to mean a short work break.

Falk 4Although I have heard tell of such delicacies as penguin stew, whale fritters, pelican gumbo and baked seal I have yet to find any credence to such claims.

If you know of such, please let me know.

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