British food and drink: fact or fiction?


Written by Lauren MacRae. 

Lauren is a Media Analyst, linguist expert and 69English content manager and English instructor. 


In the international world that we live in nowadays, I have often wondered if a culture of British food and drink still exists. There is so much food available in the UK and with so much excellent choice I have been asking myself the following questions and more. Are the stereotypes actually true? Do my fellow Brits really eat cream teas? Are fish and chips still popular? And what is the best way to make a cup of tea? To answer these questions about British food customs and habits I decided to survey some friends to see whether any of the stereotypes ring true.

I asked a sample of people how often they ate fish and chips, curry, crumble, roast dinner and steak and chips and the results were that the majority ate all of these dishes at least twice a month if not more often. It seems that my friends and acquaintances are more traditional than I realised, with the exception of curry, which seems the more modern multicultural favourite.

English tea. Fancy a cuppa?

In regards to cream teas and afternoon teas, amongst my contacts they seem to not be a regular occurrence, but mainly for special occasions and birthdays and also when people just want a treat in a nice café or garden centre. However, what fascinated me was that people were quite particular about how they ate their scones and clotted cream (jam first and then cream seemed to be the consensus).


Interestingly, how to make a cup of tea proved somewhat controversial; everyone seemed to have their own way of making the perfect cuppa ranging from using a  pot to stating the exact order of adding things (‘‘always add hot water first, let it brew, then add milk’’). As for coffee as might be expected, some preferred it while others wouldn’t touch it.


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Typical British fish and chips meal

Undeniably, a roast dinner proved the most popular choice for the favourite British food, although some stipulated it had to be done well! I suspect that the reason behind its popularity is that it is viewed as comfort food. Also it may well be because, as someone mentioned, there are different variations to it.


Another fascinating result from the survey was that there seemed to be no common times for meals; it depended very much on whether people were married and had children or not, whether they were retired or working and even depended on what they were doing on a given week. Therefore, I think the stereotype of an early dinner does not apply in many cases. 

The ' British Food and Drink Culture ' is definitely a thing!

In conclusion, I think that a culture of British food and drink does exist, although the UK tradition of the afternoon or cream tea seems to be more of a special event than an everyday staple. Certainly the survey proved that, at least amongst those surveyed, that many people have a sweet tooth and love desserts.


I rather suspect that this applies to the population at large, although, as my questionnaire indicated, some do try to curb this in favour of healthy eating. I think this culture is worth exploring; if you have never tried any of the UK’s culinary traditions, why not try to make a scone or sponge cake or visit London’s gastronomic highlights?

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