Over the last month and a half or so since I have been in London, I have been really exposed to the strong food culture here in England. I eat most of my food from grocery stores, the most popular one being Sainsbury’s. As a student always looking to save a buck, Sainsbury’s provides the cheapest food for the most part. The first thing I noticed when I went grocery shopping for the first time was the expiration dates on the food. Things expire so fast here! At home, I am used to stocking up on food items that will last at least a week. Here, items like bread and meat expire in two days. It was hard getting used to, in fact I am still in the process of figuring out what food items to buy and how much for a week. Other than that, the food is actually really good here. The stereotype of British food being bad is not really true. I find that the food here is less greasy and more fresh than it is back home. This seems to be the case in restaurants. The first few weeks here I started to lose weight because of the lack of preservatives in the food as well as smaller portions that are more common here in Europe. We American’s really eat a lot of food.
Some traditional British dishes I have had include fish and chips and bangers and mash, which is sausage and mashed potatoes with gravy. The dishes that I still have to try are the traditional Sunday roasts, Yorkshire pudding and meat pies. What I love about London is that you can get any kind of food here at any time. London is like the world in one city so any cuisine you desire can be found here. Curry is the most popular ethnic dish in Britain by far. Everywhere you go you can find a curry house or Indian restaurant. Curry also happens to be my favorite ethnic dish as well. Curry, for those that don’t know, is a kind of meat stew over rice flavored with Indian spices. It’s outstanding. The one thing that is upsetting about the food in Britain is that it is so expensive for students. Groceries aren’t cheap and restaurants can be downright ridiculous. The thing that saves my budget is that restaurants and cafes here work on a takeaway system. You can take food “to-go” and pay less for it than sitting down to eat the meal. This is a really nice thing about the food here and is a lifesaver of my budget.
In all, I am really enjoying the food here and I will miss certain things when I get back to the States like the traditional British dishes. I will enjoy it while I can because I can’t get things like Yorkshire pudding and really good curry back in Wisconsin!
Alex Yurk is studying abroad in London, England, with the Foundation for International Education (FIE).