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BRITISH FOOD




Before you read:

Do you know how people from different countries treat the British food? What is your attitude to the British food?

Food in Britain has had a bad reputation abroad for a very long time. Visitors from foreign countries complain about the meals they order in restaurants and cafes. But in spite of complaints about uninteresting food, there seems to be a great interest in cook­ing among people in Britain. Cookery books are published, and newspapers and magazines regularly print unusual foreign recipes and revive old recipes from the past and from various regions of Britain. So one may have a delightful surprise if one is prepared to face English food with an open mind (and mouth).

The English have not developed one of the world's great cuisines — they have not had to. Plenty of excellent beef, pork and lamb have long been available. In spite of the fact that only fine meat can be roasted, and that roasting is an extravagant way to cook, roast meat has always been the Eng­lishman's first choice. Sunday lunch must be roast beef, it's almost an English law. It is still number one today, according to surveys.

Simple food — beef, mutton, crab, plaice and sole accompanied by incredible amounts of bread, salads and greens — was and often still is the British style of eating.

Pies are another British favourite: not only fruit pies, but steak-and-kidney pies, made ideally with flaky pastry, crisp and buttery and golden brown.

There is a joke that instead of central heating the Britons have puddings. They have suet puddings and steamed puddings, cabinet puddings and chocolate puddings, puddings with treacle and puddings with marmalade. They have stout white pud­dings crammed with currants and raisins and other fruit. British puddings are eaten to keep out the cold, and at Christmas the great king of the puddings comes flaming and splendid.

It is interesting to know that the Great Fire of London in 1666 broke out in Pudding Lane (!), but the statue that cele­brates its end is on Pie Corner (!!).

The British now spend less of their in­come on food than they did ten years ago. The richest families spend more on fruit and vegetables that have a short season, and on meat, fresh fish and cheese. These foods are expensive. Cheaper foods include white bread, potatoes and sugar. Bread has always been a basic food but the amount eaten nowadays is declining.

The traditional cooked breakfast has been disappearing from the homes and hotels of Britain. Twenty years ago half the popula­tion ate cooked breakfast every day. Now less than 20% do so. Some people have for their breakfast a bowl of cereal with milk. In Scotland, particularly, they eat porridge (cooked oatmeal); it is a traditional warm beginning of the day.

To reduce the amount of time spent in prepairing meals people buy "convenience" foods (i. e., ready to cook or eat). They are sold tinned (canned), or dried, or sealed in plastic bags or aluminum foil, or frozen. Convenience food sales in Britain make up 25% of all expenditure on food.

Fresh fruit is a natural convenience food which the Britons can buy all the year round.

Meals are often less formal nowadays. Snacks are popular; they can be eaten anywhere at any time.

Some snacks to choose from:

1. Baked beans on toast (the beans come out of a tin and the toast can be made from a sliced loaf of bread).

2. Spaghetti in tomato sauce (tinned).

3. Fish fingers (frozen).

4. Sausage rolls (can be bought from the
baker).

5. Meat pies (can be bought from the
grocer, the butcher or the baker).

6. Sandwiches (can be bought at pubs and
at shops). Not much cooking involved!

More and more people buy hot food from a "take-away" and eat it at home. This is quicker than cooking a meal and cheaper than eating at a restaurant. The most com­mon take-away foods in Britain are fish and chips, hamburgers, and Chinese foods.

There has been a change of diet during the last few years. Some people prefer not to eat factory-made, processed foods. They have turned to a diet of nuts, honey, dried fruits, and organically-grown cereals and vegetables. They want to eat food without chemical fertilizers or additives. Special "Health Food Stores" are opened in shop­ping centres to supply these natural foods. These goods are usually more expensive.

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