British Culture & Food

Written by christy p
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British Culture & Food
Fish and Chips are a traditional British favourite. (real fish and chips image by green 308 from

The British have been known for many food customs from tea time to the traditional English breakfast. Some customs are connected with ethnic groups, religious influences and regional or family traditions. With every new group of people the British encountered, foods and customs were also added, altered here and there, and new "customs" were born.

Religious Customs

Some of the traditional British foods are tied to religious celebrations. Hot cross buns, of the well-known nursery rhyme, are traditionally eaten on Good Friday. And a British Christmas feast would not be complete without the plum pudding. Twelfth night celebrations include a party, a processional bringing of gifts, the eating of the 12th night cake and the crowning of the "12th night kings".


Pies are a large part of British traditional foods. The pies can be filled with meats and spices and are classified as savoury, or fruits and nuts, which are classified as sweets. Fixing the meat dishes within a pie made it possible in hard times to use butchers' scraps and other lower-end meat products to make a tasty meal. The pies can have two crusts or only a bottom crust, or made like a turnover, from short dough or puff pastry.

Tea Time

Tea time is the last meal of the day. As is traditional in many cultures, the British have a morning meal called breakfast and a midday meal called lunch or dinner. And the last meal of the day, known in many places as dinner or supper, among the British is called tea. Tea usually consisted of tea to drink, of course, and lighter foods like cakes, sandwiches, toast, cheese, savouries, and biscuits (cookies). Today tea has transformed into an evening meal of more substantial proportions more like supper in the United States, with roasted meat and vegetables.


British social customs are polite and often reserved. Entertaining guests or visiting the homes of others is a beloved tradition. When visiting at the home of another, it is tradition to bring a gift for the host or hostess. Traditional gifts are bottles of wine, boxes of chocolates and flowers for the table.

Traditional Foods

Bangers and Mash are a traditional dish consisting of primarily of meat sausages and potatoes. Fish and Chips are a well-known favourite and the most common British takeout food. The fried fish and sliced, fried potatoes were traditionally wrapped in newsprint for transport, but now, because of hygiene laws, they are wrapped in greaseproof paper. Sometimes that paper is printed with text just to keep the traditional alive. Bubble and Squeak is traditionally made from the Sunday roast leftovers. The chopped meat and vegetables are mixed with mashed potatoes and fried until they are cooked through and browned.

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