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Food and Drink in London

London is the capital of a nation that gave the world fish and chips, beans on toast,
mushy peas and chip butties (French fries between two slices of buttered - and un-
toasted - white bread).

Traditional London Food

London's most famous food is pie and mash (potato) and is still served today.
Locally caught eels were the usual pie filling but they have been gradually
replaced by minced beef. Today, eels are still served, either stewed or jellied,
and with or without pie and mash.

World Foods

Thanks to the capital's multicultural population, you'll find more than 60 different
national cuisines from French, Italian and Spanish to Thai and Japanese. Indian food
is especially popular in Britain and many people often eat at their local 'curry house'.

Vegetarian Food

Vegetarianism is an accepted part of London's restaurant scene and most places offer
at least a couple of dishes for those who do not eat meat.

Take-Away Food

London has thousands of burger and chicken fast-food restaurants. It also has many
Indian, Chinese and pizza take-aways. The city's fish and chip shops are part of a
uniquely British take-away tradition.

Tea and Coffee

Londoners are famous for their love of a good cup of tea, at home, at work and in
cafes. Coffee has been drunk in London since the 17th century, when coffee houses
were hotbeds of political discussions and debate. Nowadays American-style bars such
as Starbucks, are everywhere.

Traditional Drinks in England


Britain is a tea-drinking nation. Every day we drink 165 million cups of

the stuff and each year around 144 thousand tons of tea are imported.

Tea in Britain is traditionally brewed in a warmed china teapot, adding

one spoonful of tea per person and one for the pot. Most Britons like
their tea strong and dark, but with a lot of milk.
Interesting Fact
Years ago, the milk was poured into the cup first,
so as not to crack the porcelain.

The traditional way of making tea is:

ƒ Boil some fresh cold water. (We use an electric kettle to boil
ƒ Put some hot water into the teapot to make it warm.
ƒ Pour the water away
ƒ Put one teaspoon of tea-leaves per person, and one extra tea-
spoon, into the pot.
ƒ Pour boiling water onto the tea.
ƒ Leave for a few minutes.
ƒ Serve

Did you know?

If someone asks you if you 'would like a cuppa', they are asking if you would
like a cup of tea.

If someone says 'let me be mother' or 'shall I be mother', they are offering to

pour out the tea from the teapot.

Tea Words and phrases

Tea break, High tea, tea time, tea party, tea towel and many more terms have derived
from the tradition of drinking tea.

Afternoon Tea and High Tea in England

AFTERNOON TEA (The traditional 4 o'clock tea)

This is a small meal, not a drink. Traditionally it consists of tea (or coffee) served
with either of the following:

Freshly baked scones served with cream and jam (Known as a cream tea)

Afternoon tea sandwiches - thinly sliced cucumber

sandwiches with the crusts cut off.

Assorted pastries

Afternoon tea is not common these days because most adults go out to work.
However, you can still have Afternoon tea at the many tea rooms around England.
Afternoon tea became popular about one hundred and fifty years ago, when rich ladies
invited their friends to their houses for an afternoon cup of tea. They started offering
their visitors sandwiches and cakes too. Soon everyone was enjoying Afternoon tea.

HIGH TEA (The traditional 6 o'clock tea) text taken from and copyright of

The British working population did not have Afternoon Tea. They had a meal about
midday, and a meal after work, between five and seven o'clock. This meal was called
'high tea' or just 'tea'.

(Today, most people refer to the evening meal as dinner or supper.)

Traditionally eaten early evening, High tea was a substantial meal that combined
delicious sweet foods, such as scones, cakes, buns or tea breads, with tempting
savouries, such as cheese on toast, toasted crumpets, cold meats and pickles or
poached eggs on toast. This meal is now often replaced with a supper due to people
eating their main meal in the evenings rather than at midday.

Tea breaks are when tea and biscuits are served. The traditional time for tea breaks
are at 11:00 am and 4 pm in the afternoon.

If something is not quite to your taste, it’s probably 'not your cup of tea'.
e.g. Windsurfing is not my cup of tea.


Coffee is now as popular in Britain as tea is. People either drink it with milk or
have it black and either have freshly- made coffee or instant coffee.


Britain is also well known for its ale which tends to be dark in appearance and
heavier than lager. It is known as "bitter" which is mainly served in pubs.


Britain's wine industry is growing from strength to strength and we now have over 300 wine
producers. A growing number of British vineyards are now producing sparkling white wine as well
as full bodied red wine. There are over 100
vineyard in Kent.

Public Houses

London is packed full of pubs (public houses),

where people go to drink beer or wine, and perhaps
have a bar meal.

Some people have their biggest meal in the middle of the day and some have it in the
evening, but most people today have a small mid-day meal - usually sandwiches, and
perhaps some crisps and some fruit.

We have three main meals a day:

• Breakfast - between 7:00 and 9:00,

• Lunch - between 12:00 and 1:30 p.m.
• Dinner (sometimes called Supper) - The main meal. Eaten
anytime between 6:30 and 8:00 p.m. (Evening meal)

Traditionally, and for some people still, the meals are called:

• Breakfast - between 7:00 and 9:00,

• Dinner (The main meal) - between 12:00 and 1:30 p.m.
• Tea - anywhere from 5:30 at night to 6:30 p.m.

On Sundays the main meal of the day is often eaten at midday instead of in the
evening. This meal usually is a Roast Dinner consisting of a roast meat, Yorkshire
pudding and two kinds of vegetables.


What is a typical English Breakfast?

Most people around the world seem to think a typical English

breakfast consists of eggs, bacon, sausages, fried bread, mushrooms
and baked beans all washed down with a cup of coffee. Now-a-days,
however, a typical English breakfast is more likely to be a bowl of
cereals, a slice of toast, orange juice and a cup of coffee.

Many people, especially children, in England will eat a bowl of cereal. They are made
with different grains such as corn, wheat, oats etc.

In the winter many people will eat "porridge" or boiled oats.

The Traditional English Breakfast

The traditional English breakfast consists of eggs, bacon, sausages, fried bread,
baked beans and mushrooms. Even though not many people will eat this for breakfast
today, it is always served in hotels and guest houses around Britain.

The traditional English breakfast is called the 'Full English' and sometimes referred to
as 'The Full English Fry-up'.

What is a typical English lunch?

Many children at school and adults at work will

have a 'packed lunch'. This typically consists of
a sandwich, a packet of crisps, a piece of fruit
and a drink. The 'packed lunch' is kept in a
plastic container.

Sandwiches are also known as a 'butty' or 'sarnie'

in some parts of the UK.


The evening meal is usually called 'tea', 'dinner' or 'supper'.

What is a traditional English Dinner?

A typical British meal for dinner is meat and "two veg". We put hot brown gravy,
traditionally made from the juices of the roast meat (but more often today from a
packet!) on the meat and usally the vegetables. One of the vegetables is almost always

This traditional meal is rarely eaten nowadays, a recent survey found that most people
in Britain eat curry! Rice or pasta are now favoured as the 'British Dinner'.

Vegetables grown in England, like potatoes, carrots, peas, cabbages and onions, are
still very popular. We can also buy vegetables from many countries all through the

The Sunday Roast Dinner

Sunday lunch time is a typical time to eat the traditional

Sunday Roast. Traditionally it consists of roast meat,
(cooked in the oven for about two hours), two different
kinds of vegetables and potatoes with a Yorkshire
pudding. The most common joints are beef, lamb or pork;
chicken is also popular.

Beef is eaten with hot white horseradish sauce, pork with sweet apple sauce and lamb
with green mint