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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!

Photo: 
Photo Credit: 

Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee