British cuisine

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British cuisine is the specific set of cooking traditions and practices associated with the United Kingdom. Historically, British cuisine means "unfussy dishes made with quality local ingredients, matched with simple sauces to accentuate flavour, rather than disguise it".



II.Main part
•History of British cuisine
English cuisine

Northern Irish cuisine

Scottish cuisine

Welsh cuisine

Anglo-Indian cuisine
•Modern British cuisine
•More interesting dishes
•The Great British breakfast
•The Sunday roast
•British drinks


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II.Main part

  • History of British cuisine
  • Varieties:

     English cuisine

     Northern Irish cuisine

  Scottish cuisine

     Welsh cuisine

     Anglo-Indian cuisine

  • Modern British cuisine
  • More interesting dishes
  • The Great British breakfast
  • The Sunday roast
  • British drinks


     British cuisine is the specific set of cooking traditions and practices associated with the United Kingdom. Historically, British cuisine means "unfussy dishes made with quality local ingredients, matched with simple sauces to accentuate flavour, rather than disguise it".

     British cuisine has traditionally been limited in its international recognition to the full breakfast and the Christmas dinner. However, Celtic agriculture and animal breeding produced a wide variety of foodstuffs for indigenous Celts and Britons. Anglo-Saxon England developed meat and savoury herb stewing techniques before the practice became common in Europe. The Norman conquest introduced exotic spices into England in the Middle Ages. The British Empire facilitated a knowledge of India's elaborate food tradition of "strong, penetrating spices and herbs".

     British dishes include fish and chips, the Sunday roast, steak and kidney pie, and bangers and mash. British cuisine has several national and regional varieties, including English, Scottish and Welsh cuisine, which each have developed their own regional or local dishes.

     Romano-British agriculture, highly fertile soils and advanced animal breeding produced a wide variety of very high quality foodstuffs for indigenous Romano-British people. Anglo-Saxon England developed meat and savoury herb stewing techniques and the Norman conquest reintroduced exotic spices and continental influences back into Great Britain in the Middle Ages as maritime Britain became a major player in the transcontinental spice trade for many centuries after. Following the Protestant Reformation in the 16th and 17th centuries "plain and robust" food remained the mainstay of the British diet, reflecting tastes which are still shared with neighbouring north European countries and traditional North American Cuisine. In the 18th and 19th centuries, as the Colonial British Empire began to be influenced by India's elaborate food tradition of "strong, penetrating spices and herbs", the United Kingdom developed a worldwide reputation for the quality of British beef and pedigree bulls.

     English cuisine is shaped by the climate of England, its island geography and its history. The latter includes interactions with other European countries, and the importing of ingredients and ideas from places such as North America, China and southern Asia during the time of the British Empire and as a result of immigration.

     The cuisine of Northern Ireland is largely similar to that of the rest of the island of Ireland. In this region, the Ulster Fry is particularly popular and the Old Bushmills Distillery, one of the world's oldest whiskey producers, is based in Bushmills, County Antrim.

     Scottish cuisine is the specific set of cooking traditions and practices associated with Scotland. It shares much with British cuisine, but has distinctive attributes and recipes of its own. Traditional Scottish dishes such as haggis and shortbread exist alongside international foodstuffs brought about by migration. Scotland is known for the high quality of its beef, lamb, potatoes, oats, and sea foods. In addition to foodstuffs, Scotland produces a variety of whiskies.

     Welsh cuisine has influenced, and been influenced by, other British cuisine. Although both beef and dairy cattle are raised widely, especially in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, Wales is best known for its sheep, and thus lamb is the meat traditionally associated with Welsh cooking.

  Since the Victorian era, during the British Raj, Britain has been "borrowing" Indian dishes, and then creating Anglo-Indian cuisine to suit the British palate. Back then we came up with kedgeree, coronation chicken and mulligatawny soup, all traditional Anglo-Indian dishes, but they are not that popular today. More recently many varieties of Indian curry of which chicken tikka masala and balti are the best known have been popularised. In fact chicken tikka masala is now considered one of Britain's most popular dishes.

     Modern British (or New British) cuisine is a style of British cooking which fully emerged in the late 1970s, and has become increasingly popular. It uses high-quality local ingredients, preparing them in ways which combine traditional British recipes with modern innovations, and has an affinity with the Slow Food movement.It is not generally a nostalgic movement, although there are some efforts to re-introduce pre-20th-century recipes.

     Much Modern British cooking also draws heavily on influences from Mediterranean cuisines, and more recently, Middle Eastern, South Asian, East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines.

     In the late 1980's, British cuisine started to look for a new direction. 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.

      Today there is more emphasis on fine, fresh ingredients in the better restaurants and markets in the UK offer food items from all over the world. Salmon, Dover sole, exotic fruit, Norwegian prawns and New Zealand lamb are choice items.

      In fact fish is still important to the English diet. Oily fishes also abound (mackerel, pilchards, and herring) as do crustaceans like lobster and oysters. Eel, also common, is cooked into a wonderful pie with lemon, parsley, and shallots, all topped with puff pastry.

      Despite recent setbacks beef is still big industry in England, and the Scottish Aberdeen Angus is one of our most famous beef-producing breeds.

Some of their more interesting dishes

     Beefsteak, Oyster, and Kidney Pudding: Oysters may seem unlikely in this meat pudding, but their great abundance in the Victorian age and earlier eras inspired cooks to find ways to incorporate them creatively in many different recipes. This steamed pudding combines the meats with mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and Worcestershire, then wraps the whole in a suet pastry.

     Black Pudding: invented in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis black pudding is often served as part of a traditional full English breakfast.

Pies, Puddings, Buns and Cakes

     Pies and puddings are related phenomena in British culinary history. Originally, both solved the problem of preparing dinners made with less expensive meats. Pies covered a stew or other ingredients with a crust; puddings were made from butcher's scraps tucked into a sheep's stomach, then steamed or boiled. Pies have remained pies, although, in addition to savory pies, there now exist sweet variations, which tend to have two crusts or a bottom crust only.Pie crusts can be made from a short dough or puff pastry. Amongst cakes, buns and pastries local delicacies include Bath Buns, Chelsea Buns, Eccles Cakes, and Banbury Cakes.

Bangers and Mash

     Bangers are sausages, and mash is potato that's been boiled and then mashed up (usually with butter). The sausage used in bangers and mash can be made of pork or beef with apple or tomato seasoning. The dish is usually served with a rich onion gravy.

Bubble and Squeak

     Bubble and squeak (sometimes just called bubble) is a traditional English dish made with the shallow-fried leftover vegetables from a Sunday roast dinner. The chief ingredients are potato and cabbage, but carrots, peas, brussels sprouts, and other vegetables can be added. It is usually served with cold meat from the Sunday roast, and pickles, but you can eat it on its own.

British Cheese

     Cheese is made from the curdled milk of various animals: most commonly cows but often goats, sheep and even reindeer, and buffalo. Rennet is often used to induce milk to coagulate, although some cheeses are curdled with acids like vinegar or lemon juice or with extracts of vegetable rennet. Britain started producing cheese thousands of years ago.

The Great British Breakfast

     The great British breakfast is famous (or notorious) throughout the world. Actually nowadays it is a bit of a myth, today many British people are more likely to have a bowl of cornflakes or a cup of coffee with a cigarette than to indulge in the wonders of this feast. The typical English breakfast is a 19th century invention, when the majority of English people adopted the copious meal of porridge, fish, bacon and eggs, toast and marmalade, that has now appeared on English breakfast tables for 100 years.

The Sunday roast

     Every Sunday thousands of British families sit down together to eat a veritable feast of roasted meat served with roast potatoes, vegetables and other accompaniments. In medieval times the village serfs served the squire for six days a week. Sundays however were a day of rest, and after the morning church service, serfs would assemble in a field and practice their battle techniques.They were rewarded with mugs of ale and a feast of oxen roasted on a spit.Nowadays the tradition has survived because the meat can be put in the oven to roast before the 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 game are eaten.

     Tea.Brits are addicted to tea. Scour the supermarket shelves and the type and variety of tea will astound and amaze you: earl grey (flavoured with bergamot), lady grey, white tea with peach, green tea. How they have their tea is also a serious choice - with or without milk, with lemon, with several spoonfuls of sugar or not. This love of tea, even in hot weather, for which it is proven to have a cooling effect, originates from the British colonization of India, and the discovery of tea there.

     British beer, or bitter as it should be known, has always been popular since the discovery of brewing with hops, sugars and yeast back in the early 13th century. Beer drinkers tend to divide into 2 camps - those who drink the lighter lager beers, generally brewed outside the UK, and bitter drinkers, who prefer more flavour to their pint, and are passionate about local ales and the differences between local breweries.

     Cider is also undergoing an upsurge in popularity, and this fruity alcoholic juice is benefiting from the interest in organic foods and drinks.

Blessed with many orchards and a range of great British apples, cider is an earthy, refreshing drink, best served chilled and by the hearty gallon. Best drunk in the open air, at a country fair or in the garden, while enjoying the summer.

     Pimms is a very refined alcoholic punch, made with fruits and alcohol. It has a slow effect, and sometimes the boozy hit creeps up on the drinker. Best served in a large bowl with lots of ice, cut fruit and traditionally cucumber slices... ladled into glasses.

     Gin.The elusive nature of gin, classically served with tonic, ice and lemon remains phenomenally popular, and there are many brands of this quintessentially English drink available.

     Dandelion & Burdock.This is a classic and enigmatic British concoction, which has slowly been reappearing on the soft drinks market in the last few years. Traditionally made pre-war by combining the roots of dandelions and burdock leaves, the unique taste of these ingredients is now artificially manufactured, and seems sweeter and more sickly than memories of the original drink.

     Ginger beer, perhaps more than dandelion and burdock, maybe more than cider, for kids and teens, is the taste of a British summer. Sample several of the varieties available - look for a less sweet version, that has a more intensive hot ginger burst,and enjoy the rush of the gingery bubbles gurgling down the throat.

     The food industry in Britain is now undergoing major changes. From a resurgence of interest in organic food to the other extreme - genetically modified (GM) food. GM food has so incensed the general public that there have been mass demonstrations against it all over the country.

     Yes, there are  a wide and varied cuisine in Britain today.After years of disparagement by various countries (especially the French) Britain now has an enviable culinary reputation. However Britain's culinary expertise is not new! In the past British cooking was amongst the best in the world. Traditional British cuisine is substantial, yet simple and wholesome. British cuisine has always been multicultural, a pot pourri of eclectic styles. 

Sunday roast consisting of roast beef, roast potatoes, vegetables and Yorkshire pudding


Fish and chips, a popular take-away food of the United Kingdom.


The custom of afternoon tea and scones has its origins in Imperial Britain. 


Kipper for breakfast


British beer


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