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British Food, Explained For Americans

Make the American understanding of British food great again.

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OK, first up, all of these are puddings.

For clarity, what you generally consider pies are a type of pudding that we might put what you consider pudding on. However, what we generally consider pies are not puddings, but are savoury and involve meat.

Unless it's a pie that is a pudding, like a mince pie, which doesn't involve mince, which is meat that's been minced, but does involve mincemeat, which doesn't involve meat. You could put what you think of as pudding on this type of pie, which is a pudding.


Some puddings are also specifically called pudding, like this sticky toffee pudding, which is a cake and a type of pudding, and another thing that you might put what you call pudding on.

But not all puddings are desserts. This is a black pudding, which is made of blood and delicious, but it is not generally a dessert. There are also white puddings, which are also not desserts.


However, despite being such an important meal, there's no single right way to do it. It needs some sort of roast meat, unless you're a vegetarian, and roast potatoes with gravy, but beyond that, it's kind of wild.

Similarly, the full English breakfast isn't so much a particular meal but a complete taxonomy of different foods. Eggs are important, as are bacon and sausages, but everything else is debatable.


Actually, much of the best food in Britain is not British. Indian food is probably the best British food.

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Though as good as curry in Britain is, our Mexican food is rubbish. Sorry.

In fact, though, fries and chips do now mean a somewhat different thing – you can buy both frozen chips and frozen fries in a supermarket. Chips are thick, fries are thin. In fast-food places or fried chicken shops, you'll typically find things listed as fries. In a fish and chip shop, they're chips – so much thicker.


Meanwhile, what you call chips are actually crisps, chipped potatoes that have been crisped, unlike chips, which are chipped potatoes that have been crisped. Again, all a much simpler solution.

Incidentally, chip shop chips are a truly perfect food – they should be as thick as possible, and have crispy bits in the bottom, but be broadly fairly soft.

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In some parts of Britain you can add scraps on top of the chips. In other parts you can add bits. These are the same thing.


However, the bread roll can also be referred to as a bun, dinner roll, bap, cob, barm, kaiser roll, bread cake, barm cake, batch, muffin, softie, or buttery, depending on where you are. This is a perfectly reasonable state of affairs.

You see, different areas of Britain have fierce rivalries over exact descriptions and origins of food. Cornwall and Devon, two counties right next to each other, have firm disagreements over who invented the pasty and in which order you put cream and jam on a cream tea.

Meanwhile, a cream tea is what you might think a biscuit is, which in the UK is a sweet food. Do not put gravy on it. Also what you think of as gravy is in fact some sort of sausage jizz, and what you call cookies are actually biscuits.


Much like this, British pancakes are a cake made in a pan, and are therefore called pancakes. American pancakes aren't pancakes because they aren't made in a pan, so we call them Scotch pancakes in the UK.

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Unless we call them just pancakes, because at this point it's getting less confusing.


With the possible exception of the deep-fried Mars bar, which is exactly what it sounds like, delicious, and also Scotch. Well, Scottish, which is what Scottish things are usually called unless they're called Scotch, or are literally Scotch whisky, which is just called Scotch, unless it's from Ireland, which is partly in the UK, and where it's called whiskey, which is different from whisky.

However, it's not a very common food, it's more of a speciality – it's not something you would find a pub, for instance. You will find food at a pub, you see, you just won't eat food at a pub, that would be weird.

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Except at the weekend. Pubs are great for food at the weekend.


At the pub, you'll need to drink in a round, where everyone has to buy everyone else in the group a drink until everyone has bought a round, and it's definitely not OK if you leave before your round is up, meaning you're locked into having multiple drinks. This is to speed things up.

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Also, there are no tabs. Well, there are, but it's a bit weird to get one.