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Throughout the centuries, many people have raised questions about how the mixture of people
that became the British come to have such definitive culinary tastes. Of course this kind of
question can be atributted to all nations but of the British we can also ask: which were the
reasons that stood behind the dire degradation of their particular style of food and how is it now
climbing back into eminence?

The first time I went to Britain, it struck me how keen the british people actually were on their
culinary experiences and the importance they paid to respecting the old culinary traditions their
ancestors used to practice. Having seen these, I could not help but become excited to look up this
topic and find out more about the earliest recipes and medieval origins from which the tasteful
and contemporary dishes of today’s Great Britain have surfaced.

As each generation is proved to express a desire of knowing more about their predecessors and
reviving different aspects of the past, so I have found my subject of interest and inner willing to
reveal the innovations and contributors that laid the foundations of modern British gastronomy.
Norman Gourmets:
The Earliest Recipes

Greatly debated by many historians, the roots of British cuisine are now believed to have begun
far earlier than previously thought, in the sophisticated cooking of the Anglo-Saxon court. This
cooking style was to reach maturity soon after the Normans colonised these islands, bringing
along recipes, ingredients and spices that they had learnt from the Mediterranean shores. Once
the conquered territories were consolidated, the Normans started focusing on revolutionising the
food that the nobility ate, leading to more sophisticated, fragrant dishes, and creating various
new methods of cooking.

The earliest extant recipes were written down sometime

before 1280 and were most likely passed down from
master cook to apprentices over centuries. Many of them
showed a high degree of gastronomical sophistication
and were especially made for the nobility and royal
households, as indicated by the large amounts of proteins
they included. Some of the marvellous dishes consisted
of highly spiced foods. Veal stew simmered in almond
milk with cinnamon, sugar and galingale (ginger) was
one such specialty, along with poached chicken
simmered in broth with parsley, ground ginger or grapes.
In terms of desserts, chefs expressed their gastronomic
brilliance through unusual ingredients. This is best
expemplified by the Rose Pottage,
which consisted of almond milk
flavoured with ground rose petals, a
mixture of pistachio or pine nuts,
simmered in wine, sugar, honey and
cloves. To this day, many recipes still
include quite a few of these ingredients,
as exemplified by the notorious
Christmas Pudding or Hot Cross Buns.
The Food Timeline

The English Breakfast

 Ever since the Middle Ages, when the consistency of the only two meals of the day was
shortly reduced to bread, cheese, some cold meat and ale, the tradition of breakfast
started to expand, especially during the Georgian and Victorian times, when the lavishing
parties the gentry used to host revolved around the variety of breakfast dishes, displayed
on opulent silverware, the estate would offer, particularly on show to impress the host’s
guests. The main ingredients that brought together the classic combination of the English
breakfast were eggs and bacon, as well as edible remains such as kidneys or tongues.
 Later on, as the Industrial Revolution emerged, the heavy, physichal labour and long
hours of work in the factories demanded a highly nutritious meal, thus leading to the
good, old English fry-up being the meal almost half of the adult population began their
day with, even as late as the 1950’s.
 Nowadays consisting of
sausage and eggs, accompanied by
baked beans, fried tomatoes and
mushrooms, toast and even black
pudding, the English breakfast
suffers various addaptations,
acorrding to the regions and
customs of England,but its
appetizing flavours are well-
preserved nonetheless, which is
probably the main reason why this
dish remains so popular and
shouldn’t be skipped over while in Britain, despite being against the health conscious


 Sometimes called more formally ‘luncheon’ is the meal eaten in the midst of the day,
most of the times between 12:30 and 14:00 and mostly consist, during the working days,
of the classical sandwich, Cornish pastry or sausage roll. The weekends, however, stand
for a home-cooked meal, such as the Sunday roast, that resides in the tradition of roasting
beef, turkey or pork along with parsnips,potatoes, Brussels sprouts, peas and other
vegetables topped with gravy and most common, cranberry sauce.
 .
The Five O’Clock Tea

 Although the concept first appeared in England in the mid 19th century, the afternoon tea
is the most quintessential of the English pastimes and definitely a
must-try when visiting the big cities of England.
Tracing back to the early 1800s, when dinner used to be served
fashionably late, the afternoon tea represents the routine Anna
Russel, the Duchess of Bedford, followed day to day in order to
avoid the grueling hunger caused by the large gap between meals.
In this context, she arranged to receive a tray of tea, scones and
clotted cream at five o’clock, which she usually consumed by
herself. Eventually, her habit would be taken up by a growing
number of her acquaintances, who went on to spread the custom
throughout all of Europe.
To experience this pastime at its fullest, tourists should partake in
the offerings of the grandest establishments in London, such as the
Ritz, Dorchester or Harrods.

Despite having undergone substantial transformations in the gastronomy department over the
past few centuries, the list of classic dishes that define the words “comfort” and ”homemade” has
been well preserved. Recent studies have shown that the typical British citizen would opt for a
traditional home-cooked meal, such as the Shepherd’s pie, rather than the gourmet alternatives
that fancy restaurants offer.
 Also reffered to as ‘cottage pie’as it was meant for rural
workers with modest dwellings, the Shepherd’s pie came
about late in the 1700 and aimed to put any kind of meat
leftovers to good use, along with the affordable potato,
resulting in a delicious, simmered mixture of carrots,
peas, celery, gravy and flavours.
 Originated during World War I, the popular pub dish
steeped in both Irish and British history, Bangers and
Mash is a staple of the country’s overall cuisine and
consists of the meat shortages and mashed potatoes.
Right around the end of the WWI, the meat sources have become rather scarce, thus
resulting in the need for meat products to be filled with cheaper substitutes, water being
primordial. In fact, this was the reason that stood behind the dish’s nickname, as ”bang”
was the sound they made while cooking in the pan. Even though nowadays the meat
quality has improved and no longer contains the audible element, the popular name has