Visitors to the US often think that there is no real American food, only dishes borrowed from other countries, or else that Americans eat only fast food. While there is some truth in both these impression, real American food does exist. The British also have a poor reputation for food. Visitors to Britain often complain that food in restaurant is badly presented, overcooked and has no taste. But the best British food is not generally found in restaurant but in people’s homes.
Certain foods are considered essential to traditional British cooking and form the basic of most meals. These include bread, pastry (for meat or fruit pies) and diary products such as milk, cheese and eggs. Potatoes, especially chips (AmE fries) are eaten at lunch or dinner. They are an important part of the traditional meal of meat and two veg (= meat, potatoes and another vegetable). A jacket potato (a potato baked whole in its skin) with cheese is popular pub lunch. Because of the increased cost of meat and various health scares many people now eat less meat. Vegetarians (= people who choose not to eat meat at all) and vegans (= people who eat no meat or animal products) are relatively few. After the main course, many families eat a pudding. This was traditional sponge or pastry cooked with jam or fruit, usually served hot with custard, but it may now be yogurt, fresh fruit or ice cream. Good plain home cooking, i.e. food prepared without spicy or creamy sauce, used to be something to be proud of. Since the 1970s British people have become more adventurous in what they eat and often cook foreign dishes. Rice, pasta and noodles are regularly eaten instead of potatoes. Supermarkets offer an expanding range of foreign foods, including many convenience foods (= prepared meals that need only to be heated). Takeaways from Indian and Chinese restaurant are also popular.
People’s interest in trying new recipes is encouraged by the many cookery programmes on television. Famous TV chefs include Delia Smith and Ainsley Harriot. Few older men know how to cook, but many younger men share the cooking as well as other household chores.
Food in America
American dishes include many made from traditional foods. Corn is eaten as corn on the cob, which is boiled and eaten ho with butter, ground up into small pieces and cooked again to make grits, or baked to make cornbread. It can be dried and cooked with oil to make popcorn, which is eaten hot covered with melted butter and salt. Turkey was originally an American bird and is the most important dish at Thanksgiving. It is served with a sauce made from an American plant, the cranberry, a small, red, sour berry and is usually followed by pumpkin pie. The hamburger may also come from the US. The sandwich, originally from Britain, is made with great variety in America. Many America’s most popular dishes have been borrowed from other cultures. This ethnic food is not always the same in the US as in the country it comes from. Many popular dishes come from Italy, especially pasta dishes and pizza. From Mexico there are burritos, tacos and enchiladas, from China there are egg rolls, chop suey and egg foo yong and from Japan sushi and teriyaki. When Americans make food at home they rarely use basic ingredients (= raw food). Cakes, for example, are often made from cake mixes bought in box. They also use many prepared foods (= meals that need only to be heated). Americans also often order in (= have a meal delivered to their home by a restaurant). In the 1980s younger people especially became more interested in food. These foodies helped to increase the variety of dishes and ingredients available in America. Olive oil became commonly used in cooking and new sauces were developed for pasta. Many styles of real coffee also became popular.
When British and Americans people eat out (= in a restaurant), they can choose from a wide range of eating places. The busiest tend to be burger bars, pizzerias and other fast-food outlets, which are popular with young people and families. In Britain these have largely replaced traditional cafés selling meals like sausage, egg and chips, thought most towns still have several fish and chips shops. Many pubs also serve reasonably prices meals. Many people eat out at Italian, Mexican and Chinese restaurant and at curry house. Fewer people go to smarter, more expensive restaurants. With the great variety of food available at relatively low prices, eating out is common.
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