British Food and Drink

There’s an old cliche that I still hear whenever I tell anyone that I’m going to England, “OMG, I’ve heard the food is horrible “.  To which I say, ” I’ve never had a bad meal there”.  That is such an old tale, really.

I tell anyone that asks that you can get any type of food in the world there.  This trip we are taking the time to eat Indian food on Brick Lane!  I have heard many times that this is the place to get the best Indian food in the world.  I can’t imagine it could be better than actually being in India, but I’m willing to give it a try!  Of course, you can count on the fish and chips to be the best anywhere.  That goes for cream tea and high tea as well, there is no contest.

 

Marcie and I went to an “English tea shop” for  high tea in a little town on the outskirts of San Diego.  It was really well done and you could tell that the proprietress tried her hardest to make it authentic. It was very good, but there was just something missing.  Neither of us could put our finger on it.  It may just have been the atmosphere but it wasn’t the same.

Years ago at the bank where I worked, I had this English gentleman customer that was the epitome of what I had always imagined an English gentleman to be like.  He had white hair, a goatee, wore a plaid cap and vest and walked with a cane.  Just before my first trip over I asked him if he would like me to bring him back some real British tea.  He looked at me with a wry smile and told me that “it isn’t the tea my dear, it’s the water.”

Some of the foods that I cannot imagine eating anywhere else and having it be as good are:  British bacon, scones, roasted potatoes, fish and chips, sticky toffee pudding, Victoria sponge and cranachan.  There is a never ending list, but I haven’t had the pleasure of trying everything.

I also hear it about the drinks, especially the beer.  I hear things like “What do they know, they drink their beer warm”, “You can’t get a cold drink, they don’t have ice”.  It’s all so silly.  People should judge from their own experience.

 Now, I’m not a big drinker of alcohol.  I do like red wine with a meal.  I haven’t tried the beer there, but I imagine that it’s a matter of taste.  Some people like it with more flavor and some like the lighter lagers.     I have tasted a lemon shandy though, which is surprisingly refreshing.  Half ale and half lemonade, completely British!  I’ve also had barley water, which I had never heard of before I went there.  Some drinks that make me instantly think “England” are tea, Pimms,  bitters, ale and cider.  Maybe cider because the UK has the highest per capita consumption of cider, as well as the largest cider-producing companies in the world!

 My guess is that the service men that were stationed in England during World War II came home with stories about how awful the food was there.  It’s not surprising really, think about it.  England is a small island that was pretty much cut off during most of the war.  They had what was already there and what they could grow on the island.  I don’t think they were getting deliveries of fresh food from anywhere during those years.  I’m pretty sure that since the weather there is similar to the Pacific Northwest where I live, the growing season is pretty short.

 All I’m saying is keep an open mind, try everything once and don’t make assumptions from what you hear, especially from people that have never even been there.  I guess that’s good advice for everything in life!

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7 thoughts on “British Food and Drink

  1. As always, you are so generous in your comments about us. You are probably right about the American soldiers during the war having to put up with awful food. So did our people sadly. The ships that brought us food from America were bombed out of the water simply to starve us out. All those poor merchant seaman that died trying to bring food to us, it doesn’t bear thinking about. Mum says she was so hungry sometimes she’d root around in the larder for anything; a withered potato, carrot, onion if she was lucky, just to boil something up to eat. They were half starved, and they loved the American soldiers because they introduced chewing gum and nylon stockings along with the chocolate! Things like oranges and bananas were seldom seen and if a crate arrived, the queues went on and on as the news spread like wild fire. I wasn’t born but I have heard the stories. Food was rationed for civilians and they had something like 2oz butter, 1 egg, and a few ounces of meat per person, per week. My Mum didn’t eat meat so her family had her ration but gave her nothing in recompense. But hey, everyone says we have awful food. We’re used to it!

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    • Lin have you watched the show “The Supersizers eat…”? They did a show on England during the war. They talked about rationing and victory gardens. The funny thing was, it said that the people were physically the healthiest they’d been since before or after!
      I find it amazing that this kind of thinking goes on to this day. I really do have people mention the food when ever they find out I’m going. I always ask if they’ve been over and 9 out of 10 times the answer is no. It doesn’t stop them from saying it though:) Human nature I guess.

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      • People are funny aren’t they, but our food isn’t the greatest I guess. A lot of our supermarket veg is grown in water for quantity not quality (they don’t tell you that!) but I have to say, our youngsters are getting more adventurous, and people are starting to buy stuff from farms, and farm shops, but what they play around with are foreign recipes like French, Italian and the like. I never heard of pasta when I was a kid; pasta came in cans made by Heinz and was called Spaghetti! Rice was for Rice pudding, a dessert, not curry. What was curry??

        I have seen many programmes about war food, and the rationing was worked out to keep everyone on a balanced and nourishing diet with the best we had at the time, but people were always hungry according to my Mum. I mean, 1 egg a week! I use 2oz butter on 1 slice of bread, and probably more! Not good, huh? My Mum gave birth to a 3lb baby because she was so malnourished (no meat and no alternative) but she’s still here at almost 90! They made them tough in those days, they were survivors.

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  2. Wow, do people really think our food will be awful…..that seems so strange to me! We have such wonderful fresh ingredients so I can’t imagine why. But I suppose it all depends on taste and what you’re used to. My husband grew up in a land locked part of England and to this day struggles with crustaceans and fish with their eyes still in!! Meanwhile I can’t get enough of fresh sea food! Scotland especially has some wonderful ingredients fresh from the sea, and then there’s the venison, the pheasant, Aberdeen Angus beef, and Scottish lamb….yum, yum 🙂

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    • I know Seonaid, but it is true. I’ve heard that tale since I was a kid, and I do not exaggerate. Every time I mention I’m going, someone brings up the food issue. Not so much Scotland,but definitely England. I found the opposite from my first visit. I also heard that Scotland has the best and most pure salmon in the world! Not to mention the deep fried Mars bar!
      I really do think that belief came from American’s stationed there during the war. It’s understandable that there would be shortages. I’m sure they were homesick and missing mom’s home cooking so naturally there would be comparisons.

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      • I think you must be right. During the war, as mentioned in another comment, the nation was practically starved, with little fresh produce. It was survival rations rather than cooking!

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  3. Scottish salmon – mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, yummy. But we have rainbow trout! My brother caught a couple and gave me one. Truly scrumptious.

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