The Melting Pot of English Cuisine
Regent’s College has a variety of meals each day and I thought it was because they are trying to cater to the different cultures here at the school, but this is not the case. English cuisine is similar to American cuisine in that it is a mix of different cultures. In the morning, there is a combination of a full English breakfast, French croissants and pain au chocolat (a chocolate-filled croissant), and some granola and yogurt. A full English breakfast is an old tradition that used to be a daily occurrence but is now more of a weekend and vacation meal. Quite similar to what Americans would make for an extravagant breakfast, the English breakfast consists of eggs, bacon, cereals, fresh or stewed fruits, toast, juice, coffee, tea, accompanied by grilled tomatoes and mushrooms. The bacon here is actually just a thick fatty slice of ham that is not crunchy like American bacon. They say with confidence that this is “real bacon”. I am not a coffee drinker so I have not experienced the difference, but what I have noticed and heard is that the coffee here is more of an espresso. A friend told me that what they call “Americano coffee” is simply just watered down espresso. When the English drink coffee they are really drinking a tiny little mug of espresso. The mugs they sell all around London are not more than 2 inches tall and an inch and a half wide. One of my professors said that once we go back to the States the coffee will taste like dirty water.
Ginger was a spice I was not accustomed to seeing so often before coming to England. I kept coming across it in unexpected places like in teas and granola bars. I learned that this was due to the Franco-Norman Invasion during the medieval times. Also I was surprised by the amount of spicy foods and curry they were serving in the Refectory (or dining hall). Again I assumed this was because of the number of international students, however it is due to English invasion of India in the 1700’s. The English went to India for many reasons but one was because the English did not understand the Hindu religion and thought they were devil-worshippers. English Christian missionaries went over to force the Hindus to convert to Christianity or they would be executed. After the English realized they had made a mistake about the Hindus being devil-worshippers, they gave the Indians a “free pass” to live in England as an apology. Some took them up on the offer and with them, they brought curry and spicy foods!
Some favorite dishes of the English include the famous fish and chips, roast beef, Chicken Tikka Masala. I have not tried the last two though I have seen them and they look delicious. The famous fish and chips are everywhere! Chips in the UK are French fries and the fish they serve is a huge piece deep fried and extremely greasy. If you do not like fried food, this dish is not for you. As for desserts, the English, like the rest of Europe, do it right. The chocolate here is so creamy I do not think I will ever be able to go back to Hershey’s. Custard is common here as a sauce for pies and crumbles. It is an egg-based pudding usually made with cream as well, so if you are lactose intolerant, please steer clear of the custard.
Despite the negative stereotype of English cuisine it is actually quite similar to American cuisine. It is not nearly as bad as some say. Plus in a big city like London there are so many cultures intermingled, you can find any type of food you can imagine!
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