English cuisine

English cuisine

English cuisine encompasses the cooking styles, traditions and recipes associated with England. It has distinctive attributes of its own, but also shares much with wider British cuisine, largely due to the importation of ingredients and ideas from places such as North America, China, and India during the time of the British Empire and as a result of post-war immigration.

In the Early Modern Period the food of England was historically characterised by its simplicity of approach and a reliance on the high quality of natural produce. This, was in no small part influenced by England's Puritan flavour at the time, and resulted in a traditional cuisine which tended to veer from strong flavours, such as garlic, and an avoidance of complex sauces which were commonly associated with Catholic Continental political affiliations.[1] It is possible the effects of this can still be seen in traditional cuisine.

Traditional meals have ancient origins, such as bread and cheese, roasted and stewed meats, meat and game pies, boiled vegetables and broths, and freshwater and saltwater fish. The 14th century English cookbook, the Forme of Cury, contains recipes for these, and dates from the royal court of Richard II. In the second half of the 18th century Rev. Gilbert White, in The Natural History of Selborne made note of the increased consumption of vegetables by ordinary country people in the south of England, to which, he noted, potatoes had only been added during the reign of George III: "Green-stalls in cities now support multitudes in comfortable state, while gardeners get fortunes. Every decent labourer also has his garden, which is half his support; and common farmers provide plenty of beans, peas, and greens, for their hinds to eat with their bacon."[2]

Other meals, such as fish and chips, which were once urban street food eaten from newspaper with salt and malt vinegar, and pies and sausages with mashed potatoes, onions, and gravy, are now matched in popularity by curries from the Bangladesh and Pakistan, and stir-fries based on Chinese and Thai cooking. Italian cuisine and French cuisine are also now widely adapted. Britain was also quick to adopt the innovation of fast food from the United States, and continues to absorb culinary ideas from all over the world while at the same time rediscovering its roots in sustainable rural agriculture.


Traditional cuisine

The Sunday roast

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

The Sunday roast was once the most common feature of English cooking. The Sunday dinner traditionally includes roast potatoes (or boiled or mashed potatoes) accompanying a roasted joint of meat such as roast beef, lamb, pork, or a roast chicken and assorted other vegetables, themselves generally boiled and served with a gravy. Sauces are chosen depending on the type of meat: horseradish for beef, mint sauce for lamb, apple sauce for pork, and bread sauce for chicken. Yorkshire pudding normally accompanies beef (although it was originally served first as a "filler"), sage and onion stuffing pork, and usually parsley stuffing chicken; gravy is now often served as an accompaniment to the main course. The practice of serving a roast dinner on a Sunday is related to the elaborate preparation required, and to the housewife's practice of performing the weekly wash on a Monday, when the cold remains of the roast made an easily-assembled meal. Sunday was once the only rest day after a six-day working week; it was also a demonstration that the household was prosperous enough to afford the cost of a better than normal meal. An elaborate version of roast dinner is traditionally eaten at Christmas, with almost every detail rigidly specified by tradition. Since its widespread availability after World War II the most popular Christmas roast is turkey, superseding the goose of Dickens's time.[3] Before the period of cheap turkeys, roast chicken would be more common than goose although Chicken was still a once a year treat until the 1950's; goose being unsuitable for small groups of diners. Game meats such as venison which were traditionally the domain of higher classes are occasionally also eaten by those wishing to experiment with a wider choice of foods, due to their promotion by celebrity chefs, although they are not usually eaten frequently in the average household.

Afternoon tea

A cream tea, comprising tea taken with scones, clotted cream and raspberry jam.

It is a widespread stereotype that the English "drop everything" for a teatime meal in the mid-afternoon. This is no longer the case in the workplace, and is rarer in the home than it once was. A formal teatime meal is now often an accompaniment to tourism, particularly in Devon and neighbouring counties, where comestibles may include scones with jam and clotted cream (together known as a cream tea). There are also fairy cakes, simple small sponge cakes which can be iced or eaten plain. Nationwide, assorted biscuits and sandwiches are eaten. Generally, however, the teatime meal has been replaced by snacking, or simply dispensed with.

Chip shops and other takeaways

Fish and chips.

England is internationally famous for its fish and chips and has a large number of restaurants and take-away shops selling this dish. It may be the most popular and identifiable English dish. In some regions fish and chips were served with a side order of mushy peas with salt and vinegar as condiments. Foods such as deep fried breaded scampi are usually on offer as well as fishcakes (authentically a fish slice between two potato slices[citation needed] ) and a number of other combinations. Potato scallops, battered potato slices that were traditionally cooked with the fish and sold cheaply, are still popular[citation needed] .

The advent of take-away foods during the Industrial Revolution led to foods such as fish and chips, mushy peas, and pie and mash. These were the staples of the UK take-away business, and indeed of English diets, however, like many national dishes, quality can vary drastically from the commercial or mass produced product to an authentic or homemade variety using more carefully chosen ingredients.

Fish and seafood

Although a wide variety of fish are caught in British waters, the English tend to mainly eat only a few species. Cod, haddock, plaice, huss, and skate are the fish-and-chip shop favourites. (The unadventurous approach and the tendency to eat fish battered were mocked by Keith Floyd with the phrase "unidentified frying objects"[4]). A few other species, such as coley and pollock are found in the anonymous form of breadcrumbed fishcakes and fish fingers.[5]


Sausages and mashed potato with gravy

English sausages are colloquially known as "bangers". They are distinctive in that they are usually made from fresh meats and rarely smoked, dried, or strongly flavoured. Following the post World War II period, sausages tended to contain low-quality meat, fat, and rusk. However, there has been a backlash in recent years, with most butchers and supermarkets now selling premium varieties.[6]

Pork and beef are by far the most common bases, although gourmet varieties may contain venison, wild boar, etc. There are particularly famous regional varieties, such as the herbal Lincolnshire, and the long, curled Cumberland with many butchers offering their own individual recipes and variations often handed down through generations, but are generally not made from cured meats such as Italian selections or available in such a variety as found in Germany.[7]

Most larger supermarkets in England will stock at least a dozen types of English sausage: not only Cumberland and Lincolnshire but often varieties such as pork and apple, pork and herb; beef and stilton; pork and mozzarella, and others. There are estimated to be around 400 sausage varieties in the United Kingdom.[8]

Sausages form the basis of toad in the hole, where they are combined with a batter similar to a Yorkshire pudding and baked in the oven, this can be served with an onion gravy made by frying sliced onions for anywhere over an hour on a low heat then mixed with a stock, wine or ale then reduced to form a sauce or gravy used in bangers and mash.

Black puddings and white puddings

A variant of the sausage is the black pudding, strongly associated with Lancashire similar to the French boudin noir or the Spanish Morcilla. It is made from pig's blood, in line with the adage that "you can eat every part of a pig except its squeal". Pig's trotters, tripe and brawn are also traditional fare in the North. There are also white puddings, similar but lacking blood.

Pies and pasties

A slice of pork pie.

The English tradition of meat pies dates back to the Middle Ages, when an open top pie crust was used as the container for serving the meat and was called a coffyn.[9] Since then, they have been a mainstay of English cooking. Different types of pastry may be used, including the lard-rich pastry of a raised pie. Meat pies generally contain fillings such as chicken and mushroom or steak and kidney pie (originally steak and oyster).

Pork pies are almost always eaten cold,[citation needed] with the Melton Mowbray pork pie being the archetype. Open pies or flans are generally served for dessert with fillings of seasonal fruit. Quiches and savoury flans are eaten, but not considered indigenous. The Cornish pasty is a kind of small pie originally used by the tin miners of Cornwall. The thick, pastry crust was held in the hand while the clean pastry covering and filling were eaten; the crust would have then been disposed of due to the transmission of dirt from the hand. Pasties have also been seen deep-fried in Mexico City, having been brought over by the Cornish miners imported to work in the Mexican silver mining industry.[citation needed]

Another kind of pie is topped with mashed potato instead of pastry—for instance, shepherd's pie, with lamb, cottage pie, with beef, or fisherman's pie.

Bacon and kippers

Northern European countries generally have a tradition of salting, smoking, pickling and otherwise preserving foods. Kippers, bloaters, ham, and bacon are some of the varieties of preserved meat and fish known in England. Onions, cabbage and some other vegetables may be pickled. Meats other than pork are generally not cured.

Pub food

Traditional pub food - a pie and chips, along with a pint

Traditionally pubs in England were drinking establishments and little emphasis was placed on the serving of food, other than "bar snacks", such as pork scratchings,[10] and pickled eggs, along with salted crisps and peanuts which helped to increase beer sales. If a pub served meals they were usually basic cold dishes such as a ploughman's lunch.[11] In South East England (especially London) it was common until recent times for vendors selling cockles, whelks, mussels and other shellfish, to sell to customers during the evening and at closing time. Many mobile shellfish stalls would set up near pubs, a practice that continues in London's East End.

In the 1950s some British pubs would offer "a pie and a pint", with hot individual steak and ale pies made easily on the premises by the landlord's wife. In the 1960s and 1970s this developed into the then-fashionable "chicken in a basket", a portion of roast chicken with chips, served on a napkin, in a wicker basket. Quality dropped but variety increased with the introduction of microwave ovens and freezer food. "Pub grub" expanded to include British food items such as steak and ale pie, shepherd's pie, fish and chips, bangers and mash, Sunday roast, ploughman's lunch, and pasties. In addition, dishes such as burgers, lasagne and chilli con carne are often served.[12][13]

Since the 1990s food has become more important as part of a pub's trade, and today most pubs serve lunches and dinners at the table in addition to (or instead of) snacks consumed at the bar. They may have a separate dining room. Some pubs serve meals to a higher standard, to match good restaurant standards; these are sometimes termed gastropubs.


England can claim to have given the world the word "sandwich", although the eponymous John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich was not the first to add a filling to bread. English sandwiches are made with two slices of bread, or a some kind of roll. Fillings such as pickled relishes and Gentleman's Relish could also be considered distinctively English. Common types of sandwich are chicken salad, ham and mustard, cheese and pickle, BLT, egg mayonnaise, prawn mayonnaise, tuna, marmite and jam. [14]

Pickles, preserves and condiments

Pickles and preserves are given a twist by the influence of the British Empire. Thus, the repertoire includes chutney as well as Branston or "brown" pickle, piccalilli, pickled onions and gherkins. The Asian influence is also present in condiments such as tomato sauce (originally ketjap), Worcestershire sauce and "brown" sauce (such as HP). Because Britain is a beer-drinking nation, malt vinegar is commonly used. English mustard is strongly flavoured and bright yellow; served with meats and cooked with cheese; internationally noted for its pungency; and particularly associated with Colman's of Norwich. Pickles often accompany a selection of sliced, cold cooked meats, or "cold collation". This dish can claim to have some international influence, since it is known in French as an "assiette anglaise".[citation needed]


Red Leicester cheese.

Cheese is generally hard, and made from cows' milk. Cheddar cheese, originally made in the village of Cheddar, is by far the most common type, with many variations. Tangy Cheshire, salty Caerphilly, Sage Derby, Lancashire Cheese, Red Leicester, creamy Double Gloucester, pungent Lincolnshire Poacher and sweet Wensleydale are some traditional regional varieties. Cheddar and the rich, blue-veined Stilton have both been called the king of English cheeses. Cornish Yarg is a successful modern variety. The name 'Cheddar cheese' has become widely used internationally, and does not currently have a protected designation of origin (PDO) under European Union law. However West Country farmhouse Cheddar has been awarded a PDO. To meet this standard the cheese must be made in the traditional manner using local ingredients in one of the four designated counties of South West England: Somerset, Devon, Dorset, or Cornwall. Sheep and goat cheeses are made chiefly by craft producers. Continental cheeses such as Brie are sometimes also manufactured.[citation needed]


Spotted dick with custard

During the dessert course, puddings such as bread and butter pudding, Eccles cake, Eton Mess, rhubarb crumble, apple pie, treacle tart, spotted dick, summer pudding and trifle are served. An accompaniment, custard, sometimes known as crème anglaise ("English sauce") is a substitute to "eggs and milk" made from cornflour and vanilla. These dishes are simple and traditional. There is also a dried fruit based Christmas pudding, and the almond flavoured Bakewell tart originating from the town of Bakewell. Crystallised Ginger or a Peppermint Sweet might be offered after a heavy meal to aid digestion.[citation needed]

Savoury course

Another English culinary tradition, rarely observed today, is the consumption of a savoury course toward the conclusion of a meal. This now though may be eaten as a snack or a light lunch or supper. Some meals today end with a sweet dessert, although cheese and biscuits may be consumed as an alternative or as an addition. In Yorkshire, fruit cake is often served with Wensleydale cheese. Coffee can sometimes be a culminatory drink.[citation needed]



Black tea with milk

Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II, took the tea habit to Great Britain around 1660, subsequently to the introduction of coffee. Initially, its expense restricted it to wealthy consumers, but the price gradually dropped, until the 19th century, when tea became as widely consumed as it is today.[15]

In Britain, tea is usually black tea served with milk (never cream; the cream of a "cream tea" is clotted cream served on top of scones then normally strawberry jam on top, a tradition originating from Devon and Cornwall). Strong tea served with lots of milk and often two teaspoons of sugar, usually in a mug, is commonly referred to as builder's tea. Much of the time in the United Kingdom, tea drinking is not the delicate, refined cultural expression that the rest of the world imagines—a cup (or commonly a mug) of tea is something drunk often, with some people drinking six or more cups of tea a day. Employers generally allow breaks for tea and sometimes biscuits to be served. A mug of tea is the standard accompaniment to a meal in an inexpensive unlicensed eatery, such as a café or"caff".

Earl Grey tea is a distinctive variation flavoured with Bergamot. In recent years, herbal teas and speciality teas have also become popular.


Hogarth depicts Tom King's Coffee House (later Moll King's Coffe House) in his painting Four Times of the Day.

Introduced in the 17th century, coffee quickly became highly popular by the 18th century.. The coffee houses of London were important literary, commercial and political meeting-places, and in some cases paved the way for the great financial institutions of 19th Century London.

Coffee is now perhaps a little less popular than in continental Europe, but is still drunk by many in both its instant and percolated forms, often with milk (but rarely with cream). Italian coffee preparations such as espresso and cappuccino and modern American variants such as the frappuccino are increasingly popular, but generally purchased in restaurants or from specialist coffee shops rather than made in the home. White sugar is often added to individual cups of tea, or brown sugar to coffee, but never to the pot.

Other hot drinks

Hot chocolate and cocoa were promoted by temperance campaigners in the 19th century, and remain fairly popular. The major brands are manufactured by the quaker-founded businesses such as Cadbury's. They are typically drunk late at night, as are Ovaltine and Horlicks.

Apple juice in its fresh pressed form, and varying stages of fermentation would be drunk, warmed and spiced in the winter time. Locally growing fruits and berry extract would also be used to flavour water with their juices. Roast dandelion root and the fresh leaves would be made into teas and tinctures and drunk for good health. Other herbal teas such as rose-hip, raspberry leaf and nettle, amongst others, would also be drunk in this way.


A milk float in Liverpool city centre, June 2005

For much of the 20th century Britain had a system where fresh milk was delivered to the doorstep in reusable glass bottles in the mornings, usually by electric vehicles called "milk floats", though it has now been largely replaced by supermarket shopping. Some areas of the country still, however, enjoy door to door fresh milk to this day.

Other soft drinks

Dandelion and Burdock was originally a lightly fermented beverage similar to root beer. Later versions more artificially made and were alcohol free. Soft ginger beer was popular from the late 19th to mid 20th century. Tizer and Lucozade are British carbonated drinks, the latter marketed as an energy drink. Lemonade generally refers to a clear, fizzy beverage in the UK. International brands of cola and energy drinks have become popular since the late 20th century.

Barley water, usually flavoured with lemon or other fruit, is a traditional British soft drink. It is made by boiling washed pearl barley, straining, then pouring the hot water over the rind and/or pulp of the fruit, and adding fruit juice and sugar to taste, although ready-made versions are usually consumed.

Squashes and cordials are a alternative to carbonated beverages. They are a non-alcoholic concentrated syrup that is usually fruit-flavoured and usually made from fruit juice, water, and sugar, which needs to be "diluted to taste" before drinking. Some traditional cordials also contain herbal extracts, most notably elderflower and ginger.

Beer and cider

A glass of Bitter.

Beer was the first alcoholic drink to be produced in England, and has been brewed continuously since prehistoric times. England is one of the few countries where ale (cask conditioned beer) is still a major part of the market. Lager or Pilsener style beer has increased considerably in popularity since the mid 20th century, and is often used as an accompaniment to spicy ethnic food. Any kind of beer may accompany a meal in a pub. English beer cookery includes steak and ale pie and beer-battered fish and chips.

Stout is a globally known style of beer which originated in England, although it came to be associated with Ireland. It has a culinary association with oysters; they can be used to flavour stout, or it can be drunk with them.

In Britain, "cider" always means an alcoholic drink of fermented apple juice. Technically, it is a member of the wine family, but it is always served by the pint or half pint like beer. It is traditionally associated with certain regions, such as the South West, Worcestershire and Herefordshire, but commercial brands are available nationwide. The cloudy, unfiltered version is called scrumpy, and the related beverage made from pears, is called perry. In England it is sometimes distilled into apple brandy, but this is not as widespread as with Calvados in France. Culinarily, cider is sometimes used in pork or rabbit dishes.

Wine and mead

A vineyard at Wyken Hall in Suffolk.

Wine often accompanies formal meals. It was introduced to England, for both production and consumption, by the Romans. Wine has been imported ever since, although it has not always been accessible to the average person.

From the Middle Ages, the English market was the main customer of clarets from Bordeaux, France, helped by the Plantagenet kingdom, which included England and large provinces in France. In the 18th century, the Methuen Treaty of 1703 imposed high duties on French wine. This led to the English becoming a main consumer of sweet fortified wines like sherry, port wine, and Madeira wine from Spain and Portugal. Fortified wine became popular because unlike regular wine, it does not spoil after the long journey from Portugal to England. Fortified wines are used in dessert cookery, for instance sherry features as an ingredient in trifle.

By the late, 20th century wines from around the world were available to the mass market. Viticulture was restarted in the 1970s after a very long break. England is currently a major consumer, but only a very minor producer of wine, with English and Welsh wine sales combined accounting for just 1% of the domestic market.[16]

Another form of domestic wine production is "country wines" or "fruit wines", which are made from wide variety of fruit and vegetables — elderberry, damson, parsnip and so on — other than grapes. Commercial varieties are available, but country wines are also often home-made, sometimes from garden produce or personally harvested wild fruit.

Mead, fermented honey, was popular in the middle ages, but is now a curiosity.


A pot of wassail

Although gin itself is not a British invention, its most popular style, London Dry Gin was developed in England. Gin and tonic has historical roots going back to the British empire, since the tonic was originally quinine taken to combat malaria in tropical climates. Rum likewise has historic associations for the English.

Whisky production in modern England re-started in Norfolk in late 2006, and the first resulting single malt whisky was made available to the public in November 2009. This was the first English single malt in over 100 years. It was produced at St George's Distillery by the English Whisky Company.[17] Previously Bristol and Liverpool were centres of English whisky production.

Mixed drinks

Gentlemen enjoying punch in about 1765, by William Hogarth

Although the English do not have a strong tradition of inventing cocktails, they did invent the mixed drink known as punch. It is typically made of water, fruit,fruit juice and spirits and served in a large bowl. Pimms is a company which has been selling ready-mixed drinks for well over a century. Pimm's associated with the British summertime and events such as Wimbledon, the Henley Royal Regatta, and the Glyndebourne opera festival. It is often used as the basis of further mixtures including fruit, lemonade, etc.

Mixed drinks can also be based on beer (Lamb's wool) and cider (wassail).

International and fusion cuisine

Indian and Anglo-Indian cuisine

Kedgeree, a popular breakfast dish in the Victorian era.

Indian cuisine is the most popular alternative to traditional cooking in Britain, followed by Chinese and Italian cuisine food.[18][19] The chicken tikka masala is now considered one of Britain's most popular dishes.[20]

Indian food was served in coffee houses from 1809, and cooked at home from a similar date as Mrs Beeton's cookbook attests. There was a sharp increase in the number of curry houses in the 1940s and again in the 1970s.[21]

In the Victorian era, during the British Raj, Britain first started borrowing Indian dishes, creating Anglo-Indian cuisine. Kedgeree and Mulligatawny soup are traditional Anglo-Indian dishes.[22] The word curry, meaning 'gravy', has been used since the medieval period. Anglo-Indian fusion food continued to develop with chicken tikka masala in the 1960s and Balti in the 1980s, although some claim the latter has roots in the subcontinent.

Home-cooked curries by ethnically English people are often based on ready made curry powders sauces or pastes, with only a minority grinding and mixing their own spice masalas. The highly successful Patak's brand defines the taste of curry for many. Curries are sometimes home-cooked to use up leftovers.

Chicken tikka masala, a modified version of Indian Chicken tikka. It has been called "Britain's true national dish."[23]

In 2003, there were as many as 10,000 restaurants serving Indian cuisine in England and Wales alone. It is commonly mistaken that the majority of Indian restaurants in Britain are run by entrepreneurs of Indian origin, when in fact they are predominantly Bangladeshi and Pakistani.[24] According to Britain's Food Standards Agency, the Indian food industry in the United Kingdom is worth £3.2 billion, accounts for two-thirds of all eating out, and serves about 2.5 million British customers every week.[25] Pat Chapman's Curry Club has a membership of several thousand.

Indian restaurants typically allow the diner to combine a number of base ingredients — chicken, prawns or "meat" (lamb or mutton) — with a number of curry sauces — from the mild korma to the scorching phall — without regard to the authenticity of the combination. The reference point for flavour and spice heat is the Madras curry sauce (the name represents the area of India where restauranteurs obtained their spices rather than an actual dish). Other sauces are either prepared from scratch, or are variations on a basic curry sauce:[26] for instance, vindaloo is often rendered as lamb in a Madras sauce with extra chilli, rather than the original pork marinated in wine vinegar and garlic.

In addition to curries. all restaurants offer "dry" tandoori and tikka dishes of marinated meat or fish cooked in a special oven, and biriani dishes, where the meat and rice are mixzed together. Samosas, Bhajis and small kebabs are served as starters, or can be eaten by themselves as snacks.

English diners usually accompany their meals with basmati rice, bread being sometimes ordered in addition, and eat with spoon and fork. India's well-developed vegetarian cuisine is sketchily represented outside specialist restaurants.

In recent years, some Indian restaurants have started aiming higher than the norm for ethnic food, two of them garnering Michelin stars in the process.[27][28]

Other ethnic cuisine

Chinese food is well established in England, with large cities often having a Chinatown district. Predominantly derived from Cantonese cuisine,[29] it may be so adapted to Western tastes that Chinese customers may be offered an entirely separate menu. Spare ribs in OK sauce is an example of crossover cuisine. Other East Asian cuisines,such as Thai, Indonesian and Vietnamese are catching up in popularity.

Italian cuisine is the most popular form of mediterranean food, vying with Chinese and Indian food as the most popular ethnic food. Greek and Spanish restaurants are well established. Turkish tends to be associated with the take-away sector in particular late night kebab shops. Whilst Middle Eastern cooking in particular Lebanese has grown in popularity from its traditional enclaves in London.

Apart from beefburgers and hotdogs, food from the Americas tends to be represented by Mexican or Tex-mex cuisine, although there a few Creole and South American restaurants.

Caribbean and Jewish cuisine can usually only be found where there is a concentration of the community in question.

In England French cuisine stands somewhat apart from other generally less expensive cuisine, although there are some inexpensive French bistros.[30]

International reputation

Scrambled Egg and Bacon Ice Cream, a dish served at The Fat Duck restaurant.

English cuisine may suffer from a relatively poor international reputation when compared to that of Italian cuisine or French cuisine. However, for many English people this perception seems outdated, for the poor reputation of industrially produced urban food in the twentieth century did not ever really represent the quality of food cooked in the home. Traditional English food, with its emphasis on 'meat-and-two-veg' falls squarely into the north European tradition extending from Northern Germany to the Low Countries and Scandinavia, albeit with a French influence.[original research?]

During the Middle Ages and Enlightenment, English cuisine enjoyed an excellent reputation; its decline can be traced back to the move away from the land and increasing urbanisation of the populace during the Industrial Revolution. During this process Britain became a net importer of food. British food also suffered heavily from effects of rationing during two World Wars (food rationing finally ended in 1954), followed by the increasing trend toward industrialised mass production of food. However, in Britain today there is a renewed fascination with the culture of food popularly led by celebrity chefs who seek to raise the standard of food understanding in the UK.[original research?]

In 2005, 600 food critics writing for (British) Restaurant magazine named 14 British restaurants among the 50 best restaurants in the world with the number one spot going to The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire and its chef Heston Blumenthal. In particular, the global reach of London has elevated it to the status of a leading centre of international cuisine[citation needed]. Meanwhile the heavy promotion of gastronomy as a post-industrial economic solution has led to a proliferation of very fine quality producers across the country.[citation needed]


Since the end of World War II when their numbers were around 100,000, increasing numbers of the British population have adopted vegetarianism, especially since the BSE crisis of the 1990s. As of 2003 it was estimated that there were between 3 and 4 million vegetarians in the UK,[31] one of the highest percentages in the Western world, and around 7 million people claim to eat no red meat.[32] The majority of restaurants will have at least one vegetarian meal on the menu.


English food writers and chefs: a selection

A photographic portrait of Mrs Beeton, c.1860-5.
The restaurant critic, television cook and writer Fanny Cradock in 1976.
Jamie Oliver pictured in 2008.

Examples of English cuisine

For more complete lists, see the British section of the List of recipes. For traditional foods with Protected Geographical Status under European law, see List of United Kingdom food and drink products with protected status.

Savoury dishes
Sweet dishes
Other specialities


breakfast, elevenses, brunch, lunch, dinner, supper, dessert, tea

Dates of introduction of various foodstuffs and methods to Britain

See Dates of introduction of various foodstuffs and methods to Britain

See also


  1. ^ P.474,Society and Religion in Elizabethan England, Richard L. Greaves ISBN 978-0816610303 here [1]
  2. ^ White Letter XXXVII (1778).
  3. ^ "Changing traditions". http://tastesofbritain.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=75&Itemid=1. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  4. ^ Google News
  5. ^ 50 Years of the Fish Finger
  6. ^ The secret life of the sausage: A great British institution
  7. ^ Deutschland on line. "German Sausages". Archived from the original on 2007-12-21. http://web.archive.org/web/20071221102258/http://www.magazine-deutschland.de/issue/Wurst_5-05_ENG_E1.php. Retrieved 2008-01-13. 
  8. ^ "UK sausages". http://www.sausagelinks.co.uk/facts_flavours.asp. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  9. ^ Wilson, C. Anne (June 2003). Food and Drink in Britain: From the Stone Age to the 19th Century. Academy Chicago Publishers. p. 273. 
  10. ^ "Pub Food". lookupapub.co.uk. http://www.lookupapub.co.uk/pub_food.asp. Retrieved 26 June 2009. 
  11. ^ "Ploughman's Lunch - Icons of England". Icons.org.uk. 16 July 2007. http://www.icons.org.uk/nom/nominations/ploughmans-lunch. Retrieved 26 June 2009. 
  12. ^ Better Pub Grub The Brooklyn Paper
  13. ^ Pub grub gets out of pickle The Mirror
  14. ^ Britain's Favourite Sandwiches
  15. ^ Lysaght, 1987, pp. 48–49
  16. ^ Defra UK Wine Industry information
  17. ^ St George's distillery
  18. ^ "Italian Food : Facts, Figures, History & Market Research". http://www.menu2menu.com/italfigs.html. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  19. ^ "Caterersearch : Market snapshot - Ethnic food". http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2005/06/27/301079/market-snapshot-ethnic-food.html. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  20. ^ "Popular British dishes". BBC News. 2009-07-21. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/8161812.stm. Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  21. ^ BBC: How Britain got the hots for curry
  22. ^ "Cooking under the Raj". http://www.india-seminar.com/2006/566/566_david_housego.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  23. ^ "Robin Cook's chicken tikka masala speech". London: The Guardian. 2002-02-25. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/apr/19/race.britishidentity. Retrieved 2001-04-19. 
  24. ^ "Professor says Indian eateries are experiencing a U.S. boom". University of North Texas News Service. October 13, 2003. http://web3.unt.edu/news/story.cfm?story=8673. 
  25. ^ "Food Standards Agency – Curry factfile". http://www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/2003/nov/curryfacts. 
  26. ^ <"Every restaurant has a large pan of this sauce always at hand, with the recipe varying only slightly from Chef to Chef. It forms the base of all Restaurant curries from the very mild to the very hot and spicy." Khris Dillon The Curry Secret ISBN 0-710-0809-2
  27. ^ "Tamarind" Michelin starred Indian restaurant
  28. ^ "Amaya" Indian Restaurant
  29. ^ Rayner, Jay (November 10, 2002). "The sweet and sour revolution". London: The Observer. http://observer.guardian.co.uk/foodmonthly/story/0,,834742,00.html. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  30. ^ "Haute Cuisine". London: The Observer. March 9, 2003. http://observer.guardian.co.uk/foodmonthly/story/0,,907913,00.html. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  31. ^ The Vegetarian Society. "The History of vegetarianism in the UK". http://www.vegsoc.org/members/history/150hist.html. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  32. ^ "European Vegetarian Union". http://www.european-vegetarian.org/lang/en/home/home.php. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  33. ^ Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management
  • Hartley, Dorothy (1954) Food in England. London: Macdonald (reissued: London: Little, Brown, 1996, ISBN 0-316-85205-8). This is a charmingly old-fashioned survey of the history of English food from prehistory to 1954, full of folk wisdom and recipes (not all practical).

Further reading

  • Ayrton, Elisabeth (1974) The Cookery of England: being a collection of recipes for traditional dishes of all kinds from the fifteenth century to the present day, with notes on their social and culinary background. London: Andre Deutsch
  • Ayrton, Elisabeth (1980) English Provincial Cooking. London: Mitchell Beazley
  • Grigson, Jane (1974) English Food. London: Macmillan (With illustrations by Gillian Zeiner; an anthology of English and Welsh recipes of all periods chosen by Jane Grigson, for which she was voted Cookery Writer of the Year. A revised and enlarged edition was published in 1979 (ISBN 0 33326866 0), and later editions were issued by Ebury Press with a foreword by Sophie Grigson)

External links

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