British Studies Web Pages

Views of Britain


English Food - Impressions of a Polish Student

What does it taste like? What does it look like? Do they only eat roast beef, Yorkshire Pudding, over-boiled vegetables and a giant fried English breakfast? What does tea with milk and sugar taste like? These are the questions I asked myself before going on my first visit to Britain. Having been there twice now, I am still not sure if I have a clear idea about what makes English food different.

My main impression of food in England is that out on the streets everything but English food is available. Everywhere I have been I have found Chinese, Indian, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Japanese and other restaurants, but rarely seen anything called an English restaurant. In fact it was only after a long wait, on my first visit, that I got my first chance to try a traditional English meal and this happened not in a restaurant but with a family. This consisted of roast lamb, roast potatoes, peas, carrots and gravy … delicious and not overcooked or tasteless, as I had been led to expect by the magazines I had read and comments I had heard from friends. It was followed by pudding called ‘the Queen of Puddings’. I will not go into details but will say that of all the things I ate in England the puddings and cakes are the things that I will remember the most and  I could eat ‘Queen of Puddings’, ‘bread and butter pudding’ or ‘clotted cream teas’ quite happily every day. Thick clotted cream and jam is just delicious. The other meal that sticks out in my mind is fish and chips covered with salt and vinegar served in paper. This sounds strange but in reality is not so different from eating the fish and chips you can get on the Baltic coast.

Apart from the food itself, my overall impression is one of different habits.  Firstly, the main meal in England seems to be eaten in the evening, whereas the main meal in Poland is at midday and secondly, contrary to what I had heard in Poland, a big English breakfast is not something that many English people seem to eat. Most of them seemed to eat a light meal of cornflakes  and\or toast and marmalade, orange juice and coffee rather than the eggs, sausages, bacon, bread, mushrooms and  tomatoes I had originally expected. After thirty days of such a breakfast I started to think that eggs and bacon could be a nice change!

But my final impression of eating with the English is sitting round the table after the main food nibbling English cheeses and biscuits and enjoying good conversation.

Joanna Kiersztejn

Ideas for Activities

  • What impressions do you have about English food?
  • Describe your favourite meal.
  • How would you make your favourite dish? Outline a list of ingredients and the instructions.
  • What questions would you like to ask Joanna?

For those of you interested in cooking British food try our recipes, both old and new, below.

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