US vs. UK Food: A Taste of British Culture

By Emma Buchman
Foreign Correspondent
One of the most prominent aspects of a culture is food. It is at the foreground of everybody’s life, and it varies greatly from culture to culture.
Make no mistake. British culture and US culture can be as different as black and white, so what differences can we see in their food?
This may be a bit of a deviation, but I needed to get that out of the way in order to get down to the meat of the matter.
I would like to start off by saying that British cuisine is not nearly as bad as you think it is.



Above are two dishes junior Emma Buchman has enjoyed while studying abroad. The top photo is a meal comprised of Cawl with toast and bleu cheese, and the bottom photo is of a type of steak and ale pie.

Maybe I have just been really lucky, but all of the food that I’ve eaten has been delicious. I have eaten steak and kidney pie with actual kidney. If anything, the food sometimes tastes fresher.
Surprisingly, even in London, there are more opportunities to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.
Depending on where you go they can actually be quite cheap. Additionally, there is less oil in everything.
In restaurants the portions are smaller, so you can actually eat everything on your plate without feeling guilty.
You don’t realize it when you’re eating the same food every day, but being here has made me realize just how greasy and oily the food in the US can be. That being said, given I’m a student, I haven’t really stuck to a typical eating schedule, so I cannot really describe the typical diet here.
Plus, working in Parliament you get the added bonus of having food readily available to you at a deflated price (I will dearly miss my £1.30, or $1.90, cappuccinos).
I do have to shop and cook for myself, so I have become intimately familiar with British grocery stores and the amount of money that they take away from me (I refer you back to the £1.30 cappuccinos).
Honestly, in regards to daily eating, Britain and the US are not that different.
They both have grocery stores designed to make you hate humanity halfway through your shopping trip.
Just like the US, they have certain brands that are the most prominent in the UK like Digestive cookies and Marmite.
I could spend all day going through the differences in British and American brands and their tastes, but the essential point is that as far as what is actually available in grocery stores both nations are similar.
As far as restaurant and pub food is concerned you will not be disappointed.
Pubs on their own represent such a big component of British customs that I actually feel more a part of the society when I’m eating in one.
I have never had a bad meal in a pub, both culturally and gastronomically.
Steak and ale pie is my favorite, and it can give you a great big dose of British heritage whenever you eat them.
There is a one thing that visitors from the US should be aware of before venturing to the UK. Britain’s definition of bacon is very different from the American definition.
Most of the time when I order bacon, it’s more like a specially prepared ham rather than the traditional strips of fat with nuggets of meat on them.
I have to say, though, that those fat strips do taste better than British bacon.
Next time you visit the UK, make an effort to try its food. No, not its Indian food, sushi, or even their pasta, but its actual food.
You will be satisfied and feel really good about stepping out of your American comfort zone (especially when you see kidney as an ingredient).

Buchman is currently studying abroad in England and is interning with Parliament. She is sharing her experiences abroad with The Elm weekly.

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