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English and French Cuisine


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English and French Cuisine
Tony McDermott
University of Northern Iowa
April 18th, 2014

English Food Background English cuisine consists of the cooking styles, traditions and recipes that have their origins in England and surrounding countries. Many of the ingredients and ideas were imported from places such as China, North America, and India during the British Empire as a result immigration after the war (“Ploughman’s Lunch- Icons of England”, 2007). English food was historically characterized by its simplicity and reliance on high quality of natural produce during the Early Modern Period. Many of the qualities taken from this era can still be found in modern recipes for bread, cheese, roasted and stewed meats, meat and game pies, broths and boiled vegetables, and freshwater and saltwater fish. (“Ploughman’s Lunch- Icons of England”, 2007) Other now famous meals, such as fish and chips, were once street food sold by vendors to pedestrians on the street. England has now adopted new cuisines like curries from India and Bangladesh, and stir-fries from China and Thailand. Along with these foreign foods, French and Italian dishes are also now popular among English inhabitants. Britain also took to the fast food trend brought about from the United States. England continues to absorb culinary ideas from around the world while still keeping to their roots of natural produce and agriculture.
English Breakfast On an average day a typical English person might begin the day with just a light breakfast. This morning meal might consist of cereal, scrambled or boiled eggs, or sometimes poached kippers, a type of fish. Sometimes a typical continental breakfast or porridge may be served as well. On Sundays or when a more filling breakfast is desired the British would turn a traditional full English Breakfast. A traditional full English breakfast, or “full monty” as it is sometimes called, includes bacon, scrambled, fried, or poached eggs, grilled or fried tomatoes, fried mushrooms, toast with butter, sausages and black pudding, and in stereotypical English fashion, served with a cup of tea. It is often times a multi-course meal, with lighter food items such as fruit or cereal being eaten as a type of appetizer. Full English breakfasts are usually saved for days when there is more time to prepare them on non-working days in the home. You can also find this category of breakfast at restaurants and cafes. Some restaurants even specialize in the “full monty” (Popular British dishes, 2009).
Figure-1: Full English Breakfast
(Photograph by Tarquin Binary)
Afternoon Tea The long thought rumor that English people stop for a mid-day teatime and meal is, in fact, now a myth among British Culture. Although, the mid-afternoon meal used to be popular, it is no long the case in the workplace. Afternoon tea is now more for the amusement of tourists and towns like Devon and Cornwall participate in this mealtime (Rayner, 2002). Pastry items like scones and jam, fairy cakes, and sponge cake are served along-side biscuits and finger sandwiches. For the most part, this long-time forgotten meal has been replaced by snacking throughout the day.

Figure-2: Afternoon Tea
(Photograph by Joyosity)

The Sunday Roast The Sunday roast used to be the most identifiable item of English cooking. The meal is traditionally eaten every Sunday. It includes roasted potatoes along-side roasted meat such as beef, lamb, duck, pork, or chicken and an assortment of boiled vegetables with gravy. Various sauces and jellies are used based on the type of meat. Some examples would include horseradish or mustard for beef, mint sauce for lamb, cranberry sauce for turkey and apple sauce for pork. Yorkshire pudding, made from a batter, is usually served with the meal as well. Gravy is made from meat juices in the pan by adding water or wine. Game meats are also sometimes served with the meal but only rare occasions. The history of the Sunday roast dinner is relates to the housewife's practice of performing the weekly wash on Mondays. The leftovers from the Sunday roast made for easy preparation of meal when the housewife would clean on Mondays. Sunday used to be the only rest day of the week. It was also showed that the household was rich enough to afford the cost of an extravagant meal (Popular British dishes, 2009).
Figure-3: Sunday Roast
(Photography by Adactio)
English Dessert Traditional desserts or “puddings” are generally served hot and are very rich in flavor. There are many variations of this course, the most popular being variations suet pudding; a boiled or steam pudding made with beef fat, flour, bread crumbs, raisins and spices. Popular suet puddings include Jam Roly-Poly; a suet pudding spread with jam and rolled and spotted dick which contains dried fruit. Summer pudding and bread and butter pudding are both desserts that contain a variety of ingredients poured over bread. Sponge cake, has the same texture of that which it sounds: a sponge. Crumbles, including rhubarb crumble have a crunchy topping over fruit. Other desserts include apple pie, treacle tart and Gypsy tart. Many desserts are sometimes served with different kinds of custard and creams (Popular British dishes, 2009).

Figure-4: Spotted Dick Figure-5 Summer Pudding
(Photography by Alexis Soyer) (Photography by Sarah)
French Food Background Traditional French cuisine includes cooking traditions and practices from France. French food is historically famous for rich tastes and agriculture used to make healthy and delicious dishes. In the beginning of the 17th century, French cuisine was greatly influenced by Italian cuisine (Spang, 2001). Eventually, French cooking shifted away from its foreign influences and developed its own identity. Cheese and wine are a major part of this identity with a variety of flavors and types to choose from. French cooking techniques have contributed significantly to Western cuisines and the knowledge of these techniques have been used widely in culinary schools all around the world (Spang, 2001).
French Breakfast Breakfast or “Le petit déjeuner” is traditionally a quick meal. It consists of slices of French bread with jam or jelly, along with tea or coffee (Clarkson & Potter, 2009). It is not unusual for children to drink hot chocolate along with their breakfasts, usually as a weekend treat. Breakfast of some kind can always be found served in cafés early in the day.
Figure-6: Coffee with Croissant
(Photography by Juan Fernandez)
French Lunch Lunch or “Le déjeuner” occurs at mid-day and traditionally consists of a two hour meal. In recent years, it has moved towards a shorter one hour lunch break. In smaller towns of France it is still customary to have the traditional two hour meal. On Sundays, lunches are longer and are spent with the family (Steele, 2001). Restaurants normally open for lunch at noon and only stay open for a few hours until 2:30 pm (Foders, 2006). In the larger cities, most working people and students are served lunch at a corporate or school cafeteria, that serve complete meals. It is common for companies without cafeterias to give workers lunch vouchers included in their employee benefits. These can be used in most restaurants and supermarkets but workers are limited by price and time variables. In smaller towns, many workers will travel home for lunch. As a result of this there are four rush hours during the day. A popular alternative that is growing among workers is to have just a sandwich followed with a dessert which can be found at bakeries and supermarkets for a low price.
French Dinner Dinner or “le dîner" often consists of three courses, appetizers or “hors d’oeuvre”, a main course or “plat principal”, and a dessert or cheese course. In some cases, yogurt may replace the cheese course, and a simple dessert would consist of fresh fruit. The meal is accompanied by bread, wine and sometimes mineral water. Main courses are served with meat along-side vegetables, potatoes, and rice or pasta (Clarkson & Potter, 2009). Hors d’oeuvres can be anything from a terrine, or French meatloaf, to a bisque, a creamy soup. Some examples of popular main courses include pot au fue, a French beef stew, and steak frites, which is simply steak served with a side of fries. Dessert can be a variety of dishes ranging from mousse au chocolat, a light chocolate cream dish, to creme brûlée, custard layer with hard caramel. Restaurants open at 7:30 pm for dinner, and stop taking orders between 10:00 pm and 11:00 pm. Some restaurants close for dinner on Sundays (Foders, 2006).

Figure-7: Creme Brûlée Figure-8: Steak Frites
(Photography by Bill Cyclone) (Photography by Lopside)
Food is not only essential to life, it can provide identity to a culture or country. Cooking techniques and types of food are a long time tradition that are passed down from generation to generation. For this reason, food provides a unique trademark to specific countries. It is a part of their history and therefore part of what makes them a unique culture. For England and France, their tradition of food has become renowned practice throughout the world. Not only do they enjoy their own traditions, but other cultures throughout the world embrace the high quality of taste in their own lives. For this reason, English and French cuisine is one of the most important parts of culture in this world today.

"Ploughman's Lunch - Icons of England". 16 July 2007. Retrieved 17 April 2014 .
“Popular British dishes” BBC News. 2009-07-21.

Larousse Gastronomique. New York: Clarkson Potter. 2009. p. 780.

Steele, Ross (2001). The French Way, 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Rayner, Jay (November 10, 2002). "The sweet and sour revolution". London: The Observer.
“Pub Food”
Foder's (2006). See It. France. 2nd ed. New York: Foder's Travel Publications.

Spang, Rebecca L. (2001). The Invention of the Restaurant, 2nd Ed. Harvard University Press.

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