Subject Material

British Food

Published: 08.09.2010, Updated: 03.03.2017

Write a list of your favorite dishes. How well does it compare with the traditional English cooking of beans, bacon and fish and chips?

British food

All English English Breakfast  Name the ingredients in a full British breakfast. Why do you think a nap is required after this breakfast?

  • baked beans
  • sausage
  • fried tomatoes
  • mushrooms
  • bacon
  • fried egg
  • toast


Just a Joke or What?

HELL is where

  • The police are German
  • The chefs are British
  • The mechanics are French
  • The lovers are Swiss
  • and it's all organised by the Italians!!

How Did British Cooking Earn a Bad Reputation?

Toad in the in the Hole  The Norman Conquest in 1066 might be one explanation. The French contributed with the lovely smells of their Mediterranean kitchen, but above all they extended the relatively plain Old English food vocabulary with words like veal, venison and mutton. Their Old English counterparts are calf, deer and sheep. What do you think sounds most tempting? It is suggested that British food is held in low regard due to the unfortunate names of some  of the dishes. When given a choice between chocolate mousse or spotted dick for dessert,  which would  you prefer? If you want a snack, you may choose between sausage in a bun or a hot  dog or possibly  a toad-in-the-hole. Guess what’s French and what’s originally British! Black pudding, Rump Steak and Bubble and Squeak are other British options.

Furthermore, many dishes mirror the typical British humour. What do you think the name jacket potato refers to? It is the all-time British favourite baked potato with various fillings. Since the mid-1880s jacket potatoes have been sold by hawkers on city streets. On Bonfire Night, which is celebrated every year on the 5th of November all over the UK to commemorate Guy Fawkes’ failed attempt to blow up Parliament in 1605, you’ll find this popular vegetable on bonfires and in mobile units practically everywhere.

In spite of these rather nasty names, the dishes are edible. Look at the recipe for toad-in-the-hole and make up your own mind! Toad in the Hole

The origin of the name 'Toad-in-the-hole' is hard to explain. It is suggested that it might refer to a toad sticking its head out of a hole.

What Exactly is British Cuisine?

When going to Britain, most people think of British food as a blend of kitchens from all over the world. Lebanese, Bengali or Caribbean. You name it, and you’ll get it! Ask your parents. Very many of them got their first curry experience from Indian or Bangladeshi food or they sank their teeth into their first kebabs in London. Even the traditional baked potatoes can have their jackets stuffed with Tikka Chicken masala. India as a British colony gained its independence in 1947. During the 1950s and 60s the British Empire was dissolved. The British were more than happy to invite former colonial inhabitants to rebuild Britain after the Second World War. They did not need to be asked twice, and with them they brought their food and culture. As a result, if you go to Britain, you’ll find a restaurant or a dish from practically every place in the world.

Traditional British Food

We still haven’t answered the question posed; what is the British kitchen? Most people’s experience when it comes to traditional British dishes, are inevitably entangled with pub experiences, a pint and a ploughman’s lunch or a kidney pie to go with it, or the greasy English breakfast at the hotel. While in Scotland, some tourists have come across the national dish Haggis. You would not like to know what that consists of!

Celebrity Chefs Restore the Pride

TV chefs like Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson have made a great effort to restore the reputation of traditional British cooking and they have been made front figures in the British Food Fortnight, an annual national campaign to promote British traditional food and educate children about heritage and nutrition. What do you think about traditional British cuisine? Take a peek at the recipes provided on Love British Food

From Hell to Paradise

We started with hell, and you might be curious; what is Paradise?
It is where

  • The police are British
  • The chefs Italian
  • The mechanics are German
  • The lovers are French
  • and it's all organised by the Swiss

Tasks and Activities


  1. What do most foreigners associate with typical British food?
  2. How and why was British cuisine influenced by the French?
  3. Why are baked potatoes known as jacket potatoes in the UK, and why are they particularly popular on Guy Fawkes Night?
  4. Which impact did the dissolving of the British Empire have on British cuisine? Why?
  5. Give examples of immigrant dishes now common in British cooking.
  6. Why do you think TV chefs like Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson are making an effort to promote traditional British cooking?
  7. Describe the stereotype British chefs and police. Why do you think they have earned their reputations?
  8. List the names of a few typical English dishes. What do they reveal about British humour and character?

Further Tasks

British Food - Tasks 


Practical material