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British culture, British Customs and British Traditions
20 quirky facts about British food
With dictionary look up - Double click on any word for its definition.
This section is in advanced English and is only intended to be a guide, not to be taken too seriously!
- Avebury Rings, one of the largest Neolithic monuments in Europe, was saved from possible destruction in the 1930s by Alexander Keiller, when he bought it with part of the fortune he inherited from his family's Scottish marmalade business.
- Queen Elizabeth I had the kitchen at Hampton Court moved from under her bedroom because she didn't like cooking smells wafting into her clothes and her furniture.
- The most eaten ‘convenience' food in the world was invented by an English aristocrat with a passion for gambling, the Earl of Sandwich. To ensure he didn't have to stop playing and to keep his hands clean for the cards, the Earl of Sandwich asked for meat to be put between two slices of bread.
- King James I of England and VI of Scotland imported 10,000 Mulberry trees to start a silk industry. Unfortunately, he ordered the wrong variety and the silk worms wouldn't eat the leaves. The mulberry tree ‘berries,' however, made excellent jam.
- Beatrix Potter used the fortune she earned from writing illustrated books to save the Herdwick Sheep from extinction. Today, a descendent of her shepherd sells Herdwick meat at Borough Market in London.
- The delicious Colchester oysters were one of the main reasons for the Romans invading Britain in 43AD.
- Royal Ascot isn't just a place to wear a hat, it is also a place to enjoy great food. Last year's, punters enjoyed 120,000 bottles of champagne, six tons of salmon and more than four tons of strawberries.
- The top prize for strawberry eating goes to the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Club -- 27 tons of them are eaten (along with more than 1,500 gallons of cream) during the championship.
- Crowdie, a soft, fresh milk cheese, was made in Scotland for centuries. The first farm to flavor it with garlic only did so after their cows had escaped from their field, wandered into woods and ate wild garlic. The flavor that went into the milk was so good that garlic crowdie quickly became a favorite item.
- ‘Bletted' Medlars were a much loved after dinner treat in Victorian homes in November and December. The fruit was gathered from trees in September, laid in sawdust and kept until the flesh turned dark and soft, as they had to be ‘rotten to be ripe.'
- During the spring, visitors can trace the routes of the Roman Army through the south of England by following the white blossom on tall, wild cherry trees. The soldiers brought cherries from Italy and spat the pips out as they marched.
- It is not only Stilton cheese that is important to the people of the Heart of England. In 1734, the Mayor of Nottingham was bowled over with a 100 lb. cheese during a riot after stall-holders at an annual street market had increased cheese prices by more than a third.
- Ice cream was so popular in London in the 19th century that massive ‘ice wells' were dug in the city. Ice was imported from America, and later from Norway to fill them.
- More than 163 million cups of tea are drunk every day in the Britain.
- Mint sauce became the ‘essential' accompaniment to roast lamb in the Britain thanks to Queen Elizabeth I. To stop her subjects eating lamb and mutton (and help the wool industry), she decreed that the meat could only be served with bitter herbs. Enterprising cooks discovered that mint made the meat taste better, not worse.
- The world's first chocolate bar was made in Bristol in the late 1720s by Joseph Fry. His company was eventually taken over by Cadbury, another British, family owned firm.
- The world's largest apple was grown in Kent in 1997 weighing 3.68 lbs.
- Harry Ramsden's Fish and Chip restaurant in West Yorkshire can seat 250, serving nearly one million fish and chip meals a year.
- Horseradish is the perfect partner for roast beef. To grow a plant you must buy a thong (that was what English gardeners called the sliver of root you need to start growing).
- One of France's top wine experts, Philipe Faure-Brac, serves English sparkling wine at his Paris bistro. He starts by offering a ‘blind' tasting to get over any preconceptions from his predominantly French clientele. Then, as they are complementing the quality he tells them the origins of the wines.