- Is food good or bad in Britain? The answer is that it is good. It has lost its reputation for bad food.
- There is a lot of organic food, international food and typical British food.
- Quite often a country’s identity can be seen in its food. The Japanese like to eat raw fish and food with subtle flavours; this is known throughout the world, and Indian and Thai people like to eat very spicy food. Many French are fond of snails. The British are an international people with a long tradition of world food. Only a small percentage of restaurants in Britain (2% has been suggested) serve British food. You will almost never see British food restaurants (apart from pubs), although recently there has been an attempt to change this.
- Traditional British cuisine is substantial (very filling), yet simple and wholesome. It has also been influenced by the traditions and tastes from different parts of the British Empire. Different teas from Ceylon and spices and pickles from India.
A Brief History of British Food
- British cuisine has always been multicultural, a mixture of different and eclectic styles.
- Influenced by the Roman Invasion in A.D. 43 and in particularly in medieval times when the French Normans invaded in 1066. The French brought with them the spices of the east: cinnamon, saffron, mace, nutmeg, pepper, ginger. Sugar also came to England at that time. Medieval cookery books show that the French had invaded Britain wanted to make spicy food to distinguish them from the peasants.
- During Victorian times British food was also mixed with exotic spices from the British Empire.
- From East Asia (China) we adopted tea (and exported the habit to India), and from India we adopted curry-style spice, we even developed many spicy sauces including ketchup, mint sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. I
- It would be fair to say that curry has become a national dish in Britain.
- In the late 1980's, British cuisine started to change its image from bad to good food. Chefs began to use interesting local ingredients, for what is now known as MODERN BRITISH FOOD.
- Modern British Food uses ‘Game’ (wild animals and fish hunted for sport, e.g. Pheasant).
- In general the British diet, which reflects the food of the forests and streams and sea.
- Fish is still important to the English diet; we are after all an island surrounded by some of the best fishing areas of the world. Many species swim in the cold offshore waters: sole, haddock, hake, plaice, cod (the most popular choice for fish and chips), turbot, halibut, mullet.
- Oily fishes also abound (mackerel, pilchards, and herring) as do lobster and oysters. Eel, also common, is cooked into a wonderful pie with lemon, parsley, and shallots, all topped with puff pastry.
- Easter, which is in April, is a very important Christian festival and Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, which Christians believe occurred on the third day after his crucifixion at some point in the period AD 27 to 33.
- At Easter we give chocolate eggs to each other, eggs symbolize birth and growth.
- Hot Cross Buns are eaten on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter and although the day changes every year.
- At Christmas we eat Christmas Pudding, a dark black/brown Plum and rasin and suet (lard) ‘pudding’. This is a dessert served only at Christmas, and ONLY in Britain, with cream or custard. We also eat mince pies, another dessert made with rasins.
AROUND BRITAIN-DAIRY PRODUCTS
Dairy cattle are also farmed extensively and this is why Britain is famous for its creams and butters and for its delicious cheeses: Stilton, Cheshire, blue Cheshire, double Gloucester, red Leicester, sage Derby, and of course cheddar.
Famous types of British cheese include: Caerphilly (a town in Wales); Cheddar (see picture); Double Gloucester (another town); Red Leicester (see picture) (another town); Wensleydale (another town) & Stilton (see picture);
Cheese is often eaten on a cream cracker or a Ritz cracker or in Scotland on an oatcake (see picture). If you go into a typical supermarket you will see about 100-200 different types of cheese on display. Wonderful but fattening.
SOME MORE TYPICAL BRITISH FOOD
- Bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potato);
- Beans-on-toast (baked beans in Tomato sauce);
- Pies, the British are very good at pies. A pie is any food surrounded by pastry (pastry is a mixture of flour and butter). It is normally baked in the oven. It can be sweet or savory. Typical examples of savory pies are steak and kidney pie, chicken pie or vegetable pie. Typical sweet pies are apple pie or rhubarb pie, blackberry pie, or a mixture of these such as apple and rhubarb or apple and blackberry. These are all typical fruits found in Britain. Actually people often go ‘berry picking’, or "to pick berries" in the summer, (like Sarah above) to find wild blackberries to take home to eat.
- Cornish pasty: There is a variation of a pie, the Cornish Pastie (pronounced with a short "a" like "had"). Cornish tin miners invented the Cornish pastie so that the working men could take their food to work with them, and it is suggested that they could eat with dirty hands, because of the large crust.
- Fish and chips; Fish fingers; Fishcakes; Fisherman's pie
- Pork pie (see picture); Another popular pie is the Pork Pie. A small round dark pastry pie filled with pork. Pie crusts can be made from a short dough or puff pastry.
- Sausage - perhaps the most famous British type is the Cumberland sausage (see picture);
- Scampi (see picture);
- Scotch egg Shepherd's pie;
- Smoked salmon (see picture);
MY TOP TEN FOODS
A little about me, my name is Sarah, I'm 20 years of age and live near North Wales. I'm a student at my local college, studying A-level Environmental Science and Geography. My top ten favourite foods are:
1 Chocolate-(Favourite make: Cadbury’s milk chocolate).
5Billberries. We used to go up into the forest in front of our house to pick these, in fact I think I’ll go again this year because I can never find any in shops. They make great pies, crumbles, ice cream or to eat on their own. The juice is gorgeous too.
6 Chips-I am fussy when it comes to chips, I mean I’ll eat most chips but I prefer 'chippy' chips. (Chips means French Fries, and chippy means chip shop, Chip Shop chips are VERY different from McDonalds chips).
8 Crisps Favourite flavours: ready salted, and cheese & onion (crisps means ‘Chips’ such as Pringles).
FISH AND CHIPS
Fish and chips is the classic English take-away food and is the traditional national food of England. It became popular in the 1860's when railways began to bring fresh fish straight from the east coast to our cities over night. This was long before McDonalds.
- Fresh cod is the most common fish for our traditional fish and chips, other types of fish used include haddock, and plaice. The fresh fish is dipped in flour and then dipped in batter and deep fried, it is then served with chips (fresh not frozen) and usually you will be asked if you want salt and vinegar added.
- Sometimes people in the north of England will order curry sauce and mushy peas with their chips. Mushy peas are crushed green peas. The Fish shop is often called "The Chippy". If you go to Britain you will almost certainly go to a fish and chip shop. Traditionally fish and chips were served up wrapped in old newspaper. Nowadays (because of hygiene laws) they are wrapped in greaseproof paper, and sometimes paper that has been specially printed to look like newspaper. You often get a small wooden or plastic fork to eat them with too, although it is quite ok to use your fingers.
- One of Britain’s favourite snacks is crisps.
- More than 7 million packets of crisps are made every day.
- The first potato crisps were made in the USA in 1852, and the first reference in Britain was in 1854 in a cookery book called ‘shilling cookery’.
- The British have theIr own favourite and unique flavours such as Cheese and Onion, Ready Salted, Beef and Chicken, Salt and Vinegar and Worcester Sauce.
It is worth mentioning that a lot of people in Britain are vegetarians, about 10% of the population, which is about 6 million people. Why? Because the British are a nation of animal lovers, and people want to do something to help animals.
- In London especially, you can experiment with the best of British, and the best of the world, as there is many distinct ethnic food to sample, Chinese, Indian, Italian and Greek and Thai restaurants are the most popular.
- Although some traditional dishes such as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, Cornish pasties, steak and kidney pie, bread and butter pudding, treacle tart, spotted dick or fish and chips, remain popular, there has been a significant shift in eating habits in Britain. Rice and pasta have accounted for the decrease in potato consumption and the consumption of meat has also fallen. Vegetable and salad oils have largely replaced the use of butter.
- Roast beef is still the national culinary pride. It is called a "joint," and is served at midday on Sunday with roasted potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, two vegetables, a good strong horseradish, gravy, and mustard.
THE GREAT BRITISH BREAKFAST BREAKFAST
What is a typical English breakfast? Most people around the world seem to think a typical English breakfast consists of eggs, bacon, sausages, fried bread, mushrooms and baked beans all washed down with a cup of coffee. However, a typical English breakfast is more likely to be a bowl of cereals, a slice of toast, orange juice and a cup of coffee. Cereals are now common in Japan such as cornflakes. In the winter many people will eat "porridge" or boiled oats.
The Traditional English Breakfast
The traditional English breakfast consists of eggs, bacon, sausages, fried bread, baked beans and mushrooms. Even though not many people will eat this for breakfast today, it is always served in hotels and guest houses around Britain.
The traditional English breakfast is called the 'Full English' and sometimes referred to as 'The Full'.
We have three main meals a day:
- Breakfast - between 7:00 and 9:00,
- Lunch - between 12:00 and 1:30 p.m.
- Dinner (sometimes called Supper) - The main meal. Eaten anytime between 6:30 and 8:00 p.m. (Evening meal)
Traditionally, and for many people these meals are called:
- Breakfast - between 7:00 and 9:00,
- Dinner (The main meal) - between 12:00 and 1:30 p.m.
- Tea - anywhere from 5:30 at night to 6:30 p.m.
Although everyone knows that "breakfast" is the first meal of the day, the other meal words are confusing. Words such as "dinner, lunch, tea, high tea, elevenses, supper" and if you ask a British person what these words mean, most of them will give you a different answer according to what part of the country they are from or from what social class they are from. Some people eat dinner at 12.00 a.m. and some people at lunch at 12.00 a.m.
THE SUNDAY ROAST
WHAT DO JAPANESE FAMILIES TYPICALLY EAT ON SUNDAY?
Every Sunday thousands of British families sit down together to eat a meal of roasted meat served with roast potatoes, vegetables and other accompaniments. It is a tradition with a long history.
HOW IT BEGAN
- In medieval times (1066 to 1499) the village slaves (or ‘serfs’ as they were called) served their master (or ‘squire’) for six days a week. Sundays however were a day of rest, and after the morning church service, the serfs were rewarded with mugs of ale and a feast of oxen roasted on a spit.
- These days the tradition has survived because the meat could be put in the oven to roast before a family goes to church and be ready to eat when they return.
- Typical meats for roasting are joints of beef, pork, lamb or a whole chicken. More rarely duck, goose, gammon, turkey or gameare eaten.
- The Sunday roast will be served with gravy made from the meat juices.
This is a typical British family eating together on Sunday in the 1950’s. After lunch the father would smoke his pipe and read the newspaper sitting on his favourite armchair while his wife washes the dishes. The children play traditional English games such as hopscotch, skipping. A bit like Tora san Japan. During my childhood, in the 1960’s growing up in London, we had a Sunday lunch every Sunday, and the whole street would smell of roast beef and roast potatoes. But not now most people no longer eat a Sunday Lunch at home. AT least not in the south of England. It is more traditional in the north. In the south people will often go to the pub for a ‘Sunday Lunch’.
THE SANDWICH-IT IS BRITISH TOO!
Where would British be without the cheese sandwich? The origin of the sandwich is as British as possible. The name refers to the Earl of Sandwich who lived 1718 to 1792. He was very keen on betting and gambling, and taking meals was considered by him as highly an interruptions. He therefore invented a kind of meal that did not requiring him to leave the gambling table for the dining table: sandwiches.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
- Even thought the quality of British food has improved, and there is a lot of fresh and healthy food available, most British people have very bad eating habits-they eat unhealthy food.
- Fast food plays a big role in our growing rates of obesity.
- The Health Survey for England 1998, estimates that 62 per cent of adults are now overweight or ‘obese’-(defined as fat by a doctor).
- Furthermore, 15% of 15 year old school children are obese. It is now the case that most young people will not live as long as their parents or grandparents.