Cultural studies - food

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Cultural studies
„On the Continent people have good food; in England people have good table manners.”
George Mikes

When somebody visits some foreign country ,he or she wants to know everything about people who live there. They want to learn about their culture, about places of historical interest and of course about their household and national cuisine. Every country has its typical cuisine. The most popular food in Czech republic is dumplings with various sauces. The most popular food in China is rice with meat or vegetables; in Italy it is pasta also with meat or vegetables; Switzerland is famous for its delicious cheese... And what about Great Britain? You can learn it from my essay. English food has a bad reputation abroad. This is most probably because foreigners in England are often obliged to eat in more “popular” type of restaurant. Here it is necessary to prepare food rapidly in large quantities, and the taste of the food inevitably suffers; though its quality, from the point of view of nourishment, is quite satisfactory. Still, it is rather dull and not always attractively presented.

Fast food outlets are now more common in Britain than they are in most other countries. The most popular are for example: Fish and chips and the sandwich and the Cornish pasty. Fish and chips are made from white sea fish such as cod, batter-coated and fried in oil, with chipped potatoes, salt and vinegar. The sandwich and the Cornish pasty is sandwich filled with meat and vegetables baked in pastry crust. They originated as a bandy way for farm labourers to take their lunch to work. Fast food comes much cheaper, usually under 10 pounds. Apart from the numerous individually owned fish and chips shops, there are many fast food chains in Britain, such as McDonalds Burger King, Pizza Hut and KFC.

It is self-evident that you know typical Czech food, such as tomato sauce, sirloin sauce...Now I would like to show you typical British food which you probably don’t know enough. Like in the Czech republic British people start their day with breakfast. In many countries breakfast is a snack rather than a meal, but the traditional English breakfast is full meal. A full English breakfast can include fried bacon and egg, mushrooms, sausage, tomatoes, freed bread and black pudding. Some people have a cereal or porridge to begin with. Yorkshire ham is also a breakfast speciality. Afterwards come toast, with butter and marmalade, and perhaps some fruit. Tea or coffee is drunk with meal. Many English people now take such a full breakfast only on Sunday morning.

The traditional English meal (lunch or dinner, lunch generally being the lighter meal) is based on plain, simply cooked food. Lunch is typically at one o’clock (any shops which close for lunch close from one to two). But it is often a bit earlier for schoolchildren and those who start work at eight o’clock. Ploughman’s lunch is served in many pubs. It consists of bread, cheese (often Cheddar) and pickles garnished with salad. Ham may be substituted for cheese. Roast beef is Britain’s traditional Sunday lunch. It usually comes with Yorkshire pudding (baked batter, a mixture of flour, egg, milk and salt), roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables. A rich gravy enbances the favour and horseradish sauce is a favourite relish. Cheese is often served to finish lunch and dinner. Mature Cheddar is one of the most popular regional varieties. The “king” of cheeses is Stilton, a blue-veined cheese both smooth and strong, and at its best when port is drunk with it. Among further cheeses belong: Cornish Yarg, Sage derby, Cheshire, Red licester... Dover sole is Britain’s most prized flat fish. Served on the bone or filleted, it is firm fleshed and delicately flavoured. As regards fish, Dover soles are a delicacy. So are British trout and salmon. Unfortunately, they are not cheap! Strawberries and cream are the delight of early summer, associated with outdoors social occasions of all types. Later, raspberries come into season. Both fruits make excellent jam. Apple pie is a favourite sweet, and English puddings, of which there are various types, are an excellent ending to meal, especially in winter.

Most of Czech people drink tea only in the morning to some bread or in the winter (when outside is cold and they want to defrost). There is not regular time for drinking tea in Czech republic. For the British urban working class tea is the evening meal, eaten as soon as people get home from work (at around six o’clock). For other lasses afternoon tea, taken at around 4pm, is a tradition enacted daily in homes, teashops and grand hotels. The tea is usually from India or Sri Lanka, served with optional milk and sugar, but it could be scented China or herbal tea served with or without lemon. Small, delicately cut sandwiches are eaten first (fish paste and cucumber are traditional fillings). Scones jam and cream especially in the west of England may follow these. Other opinions include battered toast or crumpets, but leave room for slice of fruitcake or jam sponge or regional speciality such as Scottish shortbread.

Britain has a large food and drink manufacturing industry, which has accounted for a growing proportion of total domestic food supply in recent decades. There has been little change in alcohol consumption in recent years. Beer is the most popular drink among male drinkers. The most popular pub beer is “bitter”, which is draught from the barrel, has no gas in it and is drunk at room temperature. A sweeter, darker version of bitter is “mild”. These beers have a comparatively low alcohol content. Beer that has gas in it and is closer to continental varieties is known as “lager”. Shandy is half beer and half fizzy lemonade. It has reputation of being very good for quenching the thirst. Consumption of table wine has grown, although there has been little change in the consumption of higher strength wines such as sherry and port. A high proportion of beer is drunk in public houses (“pubs”), traditional social centres for many people, and in clubs. The British pub is unique. This is not just because it is different in character from bars or cafés in other countries. It is also because it is different from any other public place in Britain itself. Without pubs, Britain would be a less sociable country. The pub is the only indoor place where the average person can comfortably meet others, even strangers, and get into conversation with them. People cannot be served in pubs until the age of eighteen and they are not allowed inside one until they are fourteen.

There are quite a large number of vegetarians in Britain and an even larger number who are aware of the implications for their health of what they eat. “Health food shops” are as abundant in the country’s high streets as delicatessens. Medical research has shown that a diet which is low in fats, especially saturates, and rich in fruits and vegetables contributes to good health and can reduce the risk of certain serious illnesses, such as coronary heart disease and stroke. By now the British are also extremely open to the cuisine of other countries. The country’s supermarket shelves are full of the spices and sauces needed for cooking dishes from all over the world.

The end will be dedicated to the comparison of British and Czech cuisine and their habits. The main difference is that Czech cuisine has more traditional and more national recipes. On the other hand England seems to be more advanced country. Some British people are trying to live healthier life (as I already mentioned) and in our country are growing fast foods chains as McDonalds (almost in every big city), Burger King, KFC (in Prague) and further. Now our republic is at the beginning of period of fast foods-at the beginning of unhealthy life and the Great Britain is about one step before. I hope that every person soon realise that health is more important than save time spend in fast food restaurant!