In Europe British food [E1] [I1] [ES1]
is not well-renowned and is actually surpassed by French, Italian, Spanish or even German cuisine. British gastronomy is a very conservative one, mainly based on meat (e.g. roast beef or lamb) and fish. Actually the most traditional take away food is fish and chips: usually battered cod with fried potatoes that are wrapped in a piece of paper.
British cooking is simple and the typical Sunday meal consists of roasted meat, potatoes and other boiled vegetables like carrots, cauliflowers or broccoli. Almost each meal is followed by a pudding, that is to say a dessert. British meal times are not very different from other Western countries, but basically we can say that the English have three meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Another interesting tradition is that of the so-called afternoon tea: most British at around 4 o' clock p.m. drink a cup of tea and eat something sweet (usually biscuits or scones). This is a very old tradition, and it was once called "High Tea", when this was not supposed to be just a small meal, but it was the main dinner itself.
British cooking may be very simple but it is characterised by a variety of regional specialties .
England. Typical English dishes are the Shepherd’s pie, consisting of minced meat covered with mashed potatoes and cheese; Bread and butter pudding, a sweet pie made of slices of bread which are baked with raisins and sugar and finally served with hot custard; Cheddar cheese, a very popular yellow cheese, originally made in the village of Cheddar in Somerset.
Wales. Welsh cuisine has a rich cooking tradition. Amongst its typical dishes we can find Laver bread, the most traditional Welsh dish, made of little cakes whose main ingredient is a special seaweed called laver; Bara brith, a type of bread rich in sultanas and currants, whose Welsh name means “spotted bread”.
Scotland. The Scottish region has its own typical food [ES1]. It has got dishes that are world famous such as Shortbread, a delicious type of biscuit made with a lot of butter and sugar, and Haggis, a meat dish made of sheep’s liver.
Ireland. The most typical dish [F1] [ES1] in Ireland is Irish stew, made of boiled pieces of mutton, with onions and potatoes. Potatoes have been the basis of the Irish diet for hundreds of years; perhaps the most traditional way of cooking potatoes is that of the jacket potato, cooked originally in the ashes of the fire and now in the oven, and then eaten with butter and salt. But Irish cuisine is also rich in sea produce: salmons, prawns and lobsters.
Ethnic Food. The massive wave of immigration in the last 50 years has changed not only British society, but also the way they eat. Immigrants have brought with them their traditional dishes and they are so spread all over the country that even the smallest town has a Chinese or Indian restaurant.
Besides a rich cooking tradition, British people also have a deep culture of drinking. There are many drinks that can be related to specific parts of the country, but beer and tea can be considered the most popular drinks amongst the population, and are at the same time two of Britain's most successful exports. Other typical drinks are cider, an alcoholic drink made from apples; Scotch whisky, an alcoholic drink made from fermented barley, and whose name clearly reveals its Scottish origins;Irish coffee which is a blend of hot black coffee, Irish whiskey and sugar, topped with cream.
As we have seen, British people have a lot of drinks to choose from, but sometimes they probably drink even too much, spending most of their free time in pubs. Since that of drinking too much can be sometimes a serious problem, strict rules have been imposed to prevent young people from addicted to alcohol. In fact in England you cannot buy any kind of alcoholic drinks before you are 18. Moreover there are strict resctictions even as far as pubs' opening hours are concerned: they usually open early in the morning but close very early in the evening as well, at about 11 p.m.