Jack COLLISTER - English Teacher - 05/04/2022
I’m sure you’ve all heard the ‘myth’ that English food is terrible. Maybe you’ve had a bad meal yourself when you visited the UK in the past.
“The meat looked grey and it was boiled in hot water.”
“The peas were too green and looked radioactive.”
“What about the jelly? That is disgusting.”
I’ve heard plenty of stories from friends and students about their experiences. However, before I tell my own story, I should probably mention that jelly is not something English people eat very often. It is usually served at children’s parties or at Halloween. You definitely won’t find it in a restaurant.
Anyway, this winter I was with my friends in Paris and I decided to go for a look around Mark’s and Spencer’s. I was very excited because I didn’t realise this shop existed in France and I ended up leaving the store with lots of English food; gravy, chestnut stuffing, Yorkshire puddings, sticky toffee pudding, shortbread biscuits… a little bit expensive but worth every penny.
When I arrived back at my friend’s apartment, I showed them all the food that I had bought and this was met with the usual reaction:
“English food? That looks so bizarre.”
Fortunately, one of my French friends had spent a long time in England and had developed a “soft spot” for British cuisine and somehow managed to convince the others to give it a try. We cooked all the food and sat down to eat with some wine (French wine of course). It was very funny as we ate in silence - everybody was inspecting their plates like it was some strange, exotic dish when for me, it was basically what I eat every Sunday with my family - but there were no complaints. Once we had all finished our plates, my friend (the one with the ‘soft spot’ for English food) asked the others what they thought.
“You know what,’ one of them said. “That was actually really good.”
“Yeah,” another agreed. “English food isn’t so bad, is it.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing… French friends saying that English food wasn’t so bad. I could die a happy man after that.
Now, I’m not saying that English food is the best food in the world because it’s not. That would be a big lie (Indian food is obviously the best in the world). But it made me think that food and taste is just a question of habit, education, nostalgia and sometimes… stereotypes.You can probably find good food anywhere in the world and even if you don’t like it at first, you could learn to adapt to it, if you try it with an open mind of course.
The only exception is snails… if anybody offers me a plate of ‘escargots,’ I will run in the opposite direction. Sorry, that is the one thing more bizarre than jelly.