A Brief Introduction to British food.

 


Contents

Mealtimes
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Glossary of typical English food.

Mealtimes

In many European countries it is normal to have a long break in the middle of the day when all members of the family return to their houses to eat together. This is not very common in Britain because normally it is a long way from the place of work or school to the home. Consequently the Britsh people tend to have a big breakfast before they go to work and the meal at midday is not spent with the members of the family but with workmates or schoolmates. Lunch is normally eaten between 12.30 pm and 1.30pm. Most people finish work at five thirty. It often takes at least an hour to get home from the school or workplace so people tend to eat their evening meal or "dinner" between 6.30pm and 8pm.

On Sundays people don't have to work so they take the opportunity eat together with their family. Sunday lunch is usually the best meal of the week and many of the meals which are considered typically British are eaten for Sunday lunch. For example roast beef and yorkshire pudding.

This is a typical British family eating together on Sunday.
After lunch the father will smoke his pipe and read the newspaper sitting on his favourite armchair while his wife washes the dishes. The children will play traditional English games such as hopscotch, skipping or doctors and nurses.


Although everyone in Britain understands that "breakfast" is the first meal of the day. There is a lot of confusion about the words for other meals such as "dinner, lunch, tea, high tea , elevenses, brunch, 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. Another example of this is the pronunciation of the word "scones" ( a type of cake eaten with Devonshire clotted cream, strawberry jam and cups of tea, known as a "cream tea")

Breakfast

Generally speaking the British breakfast is much bigger than in most other countries. Many people like to have a fried breakfast which can consist of fried bacon and eggs with fried bread and possibly fried tomatoes or black pudding. Of course not everybody wants to eat a lot early in the morning and many people prefer to just eat toast and marmalade with tea or coffee. Cereals are also very popular. The most common is cornflakes. They are made with different grains such as corn, wheat, oats etc. If you go to a Britsh supermarket you will see that there are many types of cereals available. In Scotland many people eat "porridge" or boiled oats. Porridge is very heavy but in the winter it will keep you warm on your way to school.

Lunch

If you go to Britain to study English and you stay with a family you will almost certainly be given a "packed lunch" to eat for your midday meal. Some factories and schools have canteens where you can eat but the packed lunch is the most common thing to eat. A packed lunch normally consist of some sandwiches, a packet of crisps, an apple and a can of something to drink, for example, coca-cola. The contents are kept in a plastic container and you take it with you when you go to school or work. The quality of the packed lunch can vary from terrible to very good, it all depends on who makes it.

Dinner

Things are changing and most British people eat meals from many different countries for example spagetti or curry. In fact you could even say that the British don't eat much British food. However the most typical thing to eat for dinner is "meat and two veg". This consists of a piece of meat accompanied by two different boiled vegetables. This is covered with "gravy" which is a sauce made with the juice that was obtained when the meat was cooked. One of the vegetables is almost always potatoes. The British eat a lot of potatoes.

Glossary of typical English food.

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Baked Beans

Baked Beans

Baked beans are beans cooked in a tomato sauce. They come in cans and are normally eaten on toast. The Britsh are very fond of baked beans.


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Bangers and mash

Bangers and Mash

This is mashed potatoes with sausages in gravy. Gravy is a type of meat sauce made by mixing the meat juices with some cornflour. In Britain it is very common to use products to make gravy such as Bisto which is cornflour and gravy browning. This has recently been superceded by gravy granules which are easier to use. If not enough flavour can be obtained from the meat it is normal to add an "oxo" cube. Oxo is a popular type of stock cube.


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Black Pudding (the black things)

Black Pudding

A thick sausage made with blood and fat. There are similar sausage in other countries but black pudding has very little filling such as rice or bread and is almost all blood and fat.


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Yorkshire Pudding (the round things)

Yorkshire Pudding

A batter made with flour, eggs and milk and cooked in the oven. This is most often eaten with roast beef for Sunday lunch. (Batter is the same mixture that is used to make pancakes)


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A ploughman's lunch

Ploughman's Lunch

This is a very popular thing to eat if you go to eat in a "pub" at midday. It normally consists of a bread roll with a piece of cheese and a pickled onion. By the way there are many very good pickles that you can buy at the supermarket for example "branston pickle". Branston Pickle is not sold in any other countries but it is the perfect companion to cheese. (I always buy a jar when I go to England) British cheeses are very good. The most famous is Cheddar. Most of the cheeses are named after the region from where they come from eg. Red Leicester, Cheshire etc. There is a very good British blue cheese called Stilton although it can be rather expensive.


Haggis

This is only normally eaten in Scotland. It is sheep's intestine stuffed with meat and vegetables.


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A plate of Fish and Chips

The Fish and Chip Shop.

You will almost certainly go to a fish and chip shop when you visit Britain. It is a shop which cooks fried potatoes called chips. They are usually accompanied by fish, pies, mushy peas, etc. The chips used to be wrapped in newspaper but now white paper is used. They often ask if you want salt and vinegar to be sprinkled over your chips. Be careful because sometimes they give you too much!


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Full English Breakfast

The Full English Breakfast

This is a very hearty breakfast and it consists of bacon, eggs, fried bread, baked beans, fried or scrambled eggs, fried tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, toast etc. If you stay in a bed and breakfast or a hotel you will normally be offered a "Full English". Be warned that if you eat this everyday you will most likely put on a lot of weight.


Pie

A pie is some food surrounded by pastry (pastry is a mixture of flour and butter). It is normally baked in the oven. The content of the pie can be sweet or savoury. Typical examples of pies are "steak and kidney pie" or "apple pie". There are variations of the pie such as cornish pasties. Pasties were originally invented so that working men could take their food to work with them. Someone told me that miners in the Cornish tin mines invented the cornish pastie. I suppose that if you work in a mine it is too much trouble to come to the surface to have lunch.


Bread and Butter

When the British eat bread they almost always cover it with butter or margarine. It is very common to see a plate of bread and butter on table when you eat. You can use it to soak up the gravy or juices left on your plate.


British Bread

British bread is very good and if you go to the baker there are many different types of bread to choose from. However, although the bread is very good, the most popular type of bread in Britain is sliced white bread. This is sold in plastic packets and is not half as good as the bread which you must cut yourself.


The author of this text is English although he doesn't spend much time in Britain. If you disagree with what is written please add your own opinion or tell us about the food in your country.