10 June 2014

I am not Impressed with British Food, nor with their Admirers

So, a couple of months ago, we went on a vacation to Tuscany (for 12 days) and London (for 6 days). There were family-related matters which necessitated the weird combination (as if London is on the way to Tuscany from Berlin, or vice versa). Anyway, I originally didn't want to blog about this, but due to what I think is constant prodding from a couple of people, I have decided I needed to vent about this. And it is about British food, and about how I don't think I am a big fan of it.

See, British food doesn't strike me as something that is spectacular. My stereotypes about British food often involve greasy breaded fish, heavy soups, and beer. So when we were in London, I tried my best to prove those stereotypes wrong. However, I did encounter difficulty.

See, most of the places that we entered to eat didn't deliver amazing food. Rather, average is perhaps the word that I would use. They were blah. And perhaps, it isn't surprising that most of these places have awesome beer, so as to hide the not-so-awesome food.

Don't get me wrong. We have found awesome British food, but you have to look for it. You have to rely on other people's advice, or the advice or recommendation of a guidebook. But if you simply find a restaurant or a pub and walk in without knowing anything, there is a higher chance that the food they serve is just blah, rather than good. This is in contrast to Tuscany, where we spent more than a week and didn't rely on guidebooks to find good food. All we did was stroll around, find an interesting looking trattoria without knowing anything about the place, walking in, and the next thing we knew, we were being served with tasty and amazing food.

See, here in Berlin, there is a British restaurant. And I have been there a bunch of times. The funny thing is, I think they serve better food than the food we found in London. And yes, even my British colleague agrees with that assessment.

Now, I would have let the matter go here, except for the die-hard defenders of the British cuisine. Sorry, but I have searched several lists on the Internet about best cuisines, yet British cuisine doesn't appear in the lists much. And yes, I might have a very skewed sampling, since I was only there in London for 5 days, yet that is the first impression I got. And if I would control for sampling rate by only assessing the first 5 days we were in Tuscany, then I should say that it still is easier to find genuine and tasty food in Italy than in Britain.

Anyway, I am a scientist after all. I am all for replication. If I find myself in London again, I'd try and find better food than the ones we've tasted. But I am afraid that it would be a hard task, given that the good food we tasted while we were in London last March weren't actually British.


  1. Food in the UK in the 1990s was awful. Like overpriced and truly blah (from a foreign point of view). I was pleasantly surprised when we started visiting the country again, the past few years. Food was actually pretty good and not as expensive as it used to be. We had great Indian food, Chinese food, Korean and yes, traditional British fares done right. Mind you, we were in London.

    I had awful food experiences in Paris, so many tourist traps... I think you have to know where to go.

    1. Zhu,

      I agree, you have to know where to go. Perhaps there's a relationship between size of city and amount of tourist traps, because even in Berlin, you have to know where to go to find a good restaurant. And yes, I do my research when trying a new one. I just had this thought because I visited Tuscany as well, and it seems that the amount of research one needs to do in Tuscany to find a good restaurant is less than in London.