British Food—A Basic Breakdown

British food gets a LOT of disrespect from just about everyone—both back in the states and not infrequently here as well.  There’s an old joke about British colonialism being a natural response to the fact that actual British food just wasn’t very good, and they had to go appropriate someone else’s cuisine instead.  Like many preconceptions about Britain that I had before I got here, this one is partly true, but also, party not.

On one hand—authentic British cuisine basically revolves around meat, potatoes, some sort of bread, and maybe—and it’s a big maybe—a vegetable of some sort.  I don’t usually eat a ton of meat, and being over here for what’s become something of a scandal involving horsemeat entering into the British food supply has been interesting, to say the least.

On the other hand—due to governmental regulations, foods here generally have less in the way of pesticides and modifications than foods back in the states do.  That means they tend to expire faster—lucky me, there’re grocery stores everywhere in this city, way more than in America (although they are typically much smaller)—but they also tend to be, well, better, in some intangible ways.

Case in point—just a few blocks from where I live, there’s a little thing called Borough Market, something of a local legend here in London.  It’s this overwhelming, huge open market with meat, tea, sandwiches, produce, whatever—all reasonably affordable, all of it incredible.  One of the more interesting things about London is its global history means that cuisine is, likewise, pretty global—imagine Jamaican jerk chicken stands next to fish and chips restaurants which are next to booths serving Indian food.  So to say that British food all meat, potatoes, meat, and some more potatoes is to ignore a lot of what this country—and this city in particular—has to offer.

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