One evening last week, when I was incredibly hungover and already feeling more than slightly delicate I was brutally attacked. Not physically. It wasn’t even a personal attack with words. But someone who had travelled from America moaned about how hard it was to get vegetables in your diet in the UK. and for some reason that cut me deep.
Then, when thinking about the next article to write for this blog, this thought entered my mind. From there, I went on a whole downward spiral of all the times my friends from across the world have made remarks about how terrible British food is. Doing my research for the article I then discovered that this was common knowledge, and I wasn’t the only Brit with a bee in their bonnet about this notion.
Now, England as a country gets a lot of things wrong, I can’t argue with that. But this stereotype of the English diet being poor and lacking culture should be buried in the ground.
There seems to be a universal idea that England has no culture when it comes to food. Yes, we do like food from all over the world (and I’ll come to that point later), but we have plenty of our own food traditions that are firmly rooted in the land.
I’m not going to make this an exhaustive list, but take for example a Sunday roast, this is a classic instilled in British culture. And if you have something bad to say about it, please feel free to send a handwritten letter my way. On a Sunday, there is nothing better than a tenderly cooked piece of meat, surrounded by a wall of mashed potato, various roasted and boiled vegetables swimming in a sea of thick gravy. Don’t tell me that it doesn’t tick all of the boxes.
Of course there are plenty of other dishes such as fish and chips, afternoon tea, Cornish pasties and shepherd’s pie that fit the bill of a traditional English meal. Many of which take advantage of British meats and root vegetables that are so well grown across the UK.
One common thing about English food is that we have a tendency to take foods from other cultures and ‘Westernize’ them. And that is true. But the beauty of having such a diverse population is that with that diversity comes a variety of dishes from various cultures. I’m not saying that the British haven’t had the tendency to butcher certain dishes, I will hold my hands up and admit it. But I think it’s a beautiful thing that we have so much variety on such a small island.
The beauty of food is that it brings people together. However, in England we don’t seem to have much pride in the food that we produce which is a real shame. We need to build a more positive culture around exactly what English food is and how incredible it can be. Only then, can we show the world what we have to offer, and it isn’t just fish and chips.