Despite this obvious difference in lifestyle, I never realised the gulf was so wide until I saw a news report on BBC Breakfast.
You know those fuzzy, warm early morning non-stories which take a bemused look at weird things of the world? Well, I was surprised to discover that corned beef had been selected as that day's topic. Cue lots of Southern news readers crowding around a plate of corned beef with expressions of confusion and astonishment. Anyone would have thought they had been presented with a plate of freshly sliced unicorn meat. They even carted in a token Yorkshire man to profess his love of corned beef, and they quizzed him on it as though it were a filthy perversion of nature.
Things took an even more surreal turn when an "expert" came into the studio to talk about his corned beef exporting business, which ships these fatty tins of minced cow across the world. "And you send this to other countries!?" inquired the presenter, obviously deeply troubled by what this export will do to our national identity.
As a boy who grew up eating corned beef sandwiches for nearly every meal (in fact I was weaned from the breast straight onto tins of reconstituted bovine chunks), this blew my mind. Why aren't our Southern cousins aware of this product? In fact, why doesn't the whole world sit down and enjoy a good corned beef sarni?
So that's it, I'm declaring today to be World Corned Beef Awareness Day. I don't care what other holidays get in the way, this is something which demands urgent attention. Whatever the hell day it is today, just go outside and buy tin of corned beef for a loved one. The beauty of this foodstuff is the number of ways in which it can be prepared. Here are some sample recipes to help you prepare your first romantic Corned Beef Awareness Day dinner:
Corned Beef Sandwiches
You will need: Corned beef, bread, butter/margarine, tomato sauce
Simply place corned beef between two slices of bread, add butter and tomato sauce, and enjoy! Replace tomato sauce with mayonnaise, if you're a filthy pervert.
Corned Beef Cobs
You will need: Corned beef, butter/margarine, bread cobs.
This dish goes by many names. It can also be called Corned Beef Baps, Buns, Bagels, Rolls, Breadcakes, Barm Cakes, or Stotties, but everyone knows the correct term is Cob.
Corned Beef on a Plate
You will need: Corned Beef, plate, knife
Preparation time is cut down to a minimum with this one. Get some corned beef, then a plate. You can figure out the rest of the instructions for yourself.
Corned Beef Hash
You will need: How the hell do I know. Do I look like I've been on Masterchef?