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United Kingdom (UK) - Food and Drink
Great Britain is well known for its tea drinking tradition. In the UK, people drink 165 million cups of tea on daily basis, and each year around 144 thousand tons of tea are imported.
The tradition of drinking tea has influenced many new terms in English, such as tea break, high tea, tea time, tea party, tea towel and many more. Tea break is the time when tea and biscuits are served, and these traditionally happened at 11:00am and 4pm. There is also a term "not my cup of tea" for something that is not quite to one’s taste.
Nowadays coffee is as popular in Britain as tea. People drink black coffee, coffee with milk, freshly- made coffee or instant coffee.
The UK is also well-known for its ale, which is usually dark in appearance and heavier than lager. This kind of ale is called "bitter" and it is served in pubs quite often.
In recent years, Britain's wine industry is slowly growing, and today over 300 wine producers are active on the market. The growing number of vineyards is allowing producers to make sparkling white wine as well as full bodied red wine.
British food is traditionally based on beef, lamb, pork, chicken and fish. It is generally served with potatoes and some other kind of vegetable. Common foods in Britain include fish and chips, pies like the cornish pasty, trifles, and roast dinners. Some dishes have striking names that visitors cannot forget, such as Bubble & Squeak and Toad-in-the-Hole.
Traditional UK Dishes
When in the UK, it’s always a good idea for visitors to try some of the following local specialities:
- With a long coastline, the UK has excellent fresh fish and seafood, with smoked salmon and mussels being particularly popular foods.
- For those who love meat, the UK offers top quality beef, steak and lamb.
- Many UK cheeses are very popular, including varieties such as Stilton, Cheddar and Shropshire Blue. There's also the Stinking Bishop, which is officially one of the world’s smelliest cheeses.
When it comes to some particular specialities, the following meals are very popular:
- Sunday roast: This meal includes roast meat, such as beef, pork, chicken or lamb, with roast potatoes and vegetables.
- Full English breakfast: This includes bacon, sausages, scrambled or fried eggs, toast, tomatoes, baked beans and mushrooms. There are also some regional variations of this meal in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- Cream teas are particularly popular in Devon and Cornwall. People in this region drink English tea with milk, and eat scones with cream and jam.
- Fish and chips is a traditional family favorite across the UK. It includes white fish, which is usually cod, haddock or plaice, cooked in batter and served with chips and mushy peas.
- Trifle is a form of light sponge cake with raspberry jam, fruit, custard and cream.
Unless there is a sign near the tap saying otherwise, it is always safe to drink water from kitchen taps in houses. Even though most stores will stock bottled mineral water, most people drink tap water.
Vegetarian and vegan food is very popular in the UK, and it is estimated that there are around 4 million vegetarians in the country. This type of food is widely available at UK supermarkets and shops. There is also a variety of vegetarian meals in restaurants, including smaller ones, which offer at least one vegetarian dish daily.
For those who are concerned about animal welfare, a variety of UK stores sell meat, fish and eggs from animals treated with more compassion. For example, the "RSPCA Freedom Food" label signifies that animals have had more space in their barn to move around, while "free-range" and "outdoor-reared" labels mean that the animals have been able to get fresh air outside as well. Restaurants and cafes that serve this kind of meat are harder to find than the usual ones. The best way is to look on the internet or ask local people.
For those who love halal and kosher diets, there are international shops and restaurants in large towns which specialize in these foods. Those who have troubles with food allergies can always ask for specialist alternatives in restaurants and shops across the UK. The majority of UK food packaging is clearly labelled, so it's easy to see ingredients and other nutritional information.
When it comes to cooking, people don't have to look far for basics such as rice, noodles, pasta and spices. Most supermarkets and food stores sell this kind of food. In large towns and cities there are specialist international food shops, concentrated on food from particular regions.
For those concerned about healthy eating, most food packaging has a list of calories, fat, salt and sugar content. People who prefer organic food - grown without pesticides and without any artificial chemical additives - can always find it in major supermarkets and in specialist food shops. Speaking about prices, many cafes and restaurants offer discounts for students, and there are "early bird" deals as well. This is where people eat at times when the restaurant is less busy.
Besides the aforementioned UK traditional meals, visitors should also check out dishes such as Mother's Ruin, Herefordshire Cider, Yorkshire Pudding, Steak and Kidney Pie, Curry, Haggis and Scottish Shortbread. Regional variations are the most interesting things for gourmands who like traveling.
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