Although the United States of America did use to be part of Great Britain on the other side of the tiny little pond (AKA the Atlantic Ocean) and the two lands do share a primary language, there are pretty big cultural differences between the two — for one the food is different.
First of all, the UK consists of four countries, which each have its own food culture and idiosyncrasies. England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales do differ among each other in terms of palettes, but, I’ll mainly be looking at them generally and comparing the four as an item against the States.
Below are some general, main differences between the diets in the US and the UK.
Pinky’s up for tea time – OK it can be more casual than that, actually.
Americans love their coffee, but in the UK, you’ll be more likely to find an assortment of tea with your meals. Heck, tea even has its own afternoon activity over there — but it’s not always as fancy as you think.
“A lot of my English friends’ families would have ‘tea time’ in the afternoon, but it was literally just like having a pot of tea and a little snack,” Genevieve, 25, told INSIDER about living in England as a kid. “The fancier ‘scones and clotted cream, drinking from delicate China’ afternoon tea is generally reserved for slightly more special occasions.”
Day drinking in public spaces is a thing – and it’s legal.
Because certain Brits don’t have to worry about drinking laws outside their favorite pubs, they can leisurely enjoy their favorite alcoholic beverages in the light of day without worry. In the US., people can enjoy these same privileges in only a few places – Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Key West to name a few.
Chantal, 27, says the biggest difference between the diets in the US and the UK, to her, is the drinking culture.
“Consuming alcohol is legal in public spaces in England, so as soon as the weather turns bearable (and sometimes when it’s not), the streets are jam-packed with people outside pubs having a pint and enjoying the great outdoors,” she told INSIDER. “So yes, alcohol consumption is higher, but the freedom to order a drink at a bar and then walk outside with it is a liberty Americans in the UK do not take for granted.”
“My favourite weekend scene in the summer isn’t the boisterous streets, however, but the sprawling parks full of picnic-goers drinking chilled wine and cold beers,” she continued. “No need to sneak lukewarm rosé in water bottles here! (Not that I’ve ever done that … I swear.)”
Drunk food doesn’t really include pizza.
As opposed to your regular cheap, thin pizza in New York City or a jumbo slice in Washington, DC, you’ll find more kebab-style late-night food options, instead.
“When I lived in New York, cheesy, greasy, 99-cent slices of pizza were the go-to, of course (I once threw a sidewalk tantrum on a date, demanding Artichoke Pizza),” Genevieve said. “In London, though, late-night kebab shops are where it’s at, so now I throw sidewalk tantrums demanding falafel wraps covered in garlic sauce.”
They eat beans for breakfast.
If you only eat baked beans with a hot dog, you’re in for a little surprise when you eat in the UK: there, they eat what’s called an English Breakfast, which includes a fried egg, sausage, bacon, tomato, mushrooms, toast, and yep, baked beans.
Traditionally, the UK boasts a very meat-and-potatoes kind of meal.
Some traditional meals that the United Kingdom offers includes: Sunday roast, which is roast beef, potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding; Shepherd’s Pie, which is literally just meat and potatoes; and other pastry-and-meat assorted dishes.
Fries are chips and chips are crisps.
Before you get confused ordering what you may think is fish and the American version of chips and then a nice plate of French fries arrives at your table, allow me to tell you now: If you want French fries, ask for “chips;” If you want American chips, ask for “crisps.” You’re welcome.
That’s not the only food-related word difference — in the UK eggplants are aubergines, cotton candy is candy floss, and soda is called a fizzy drink.
They go hard for their 99 Flake.
The 99 Flake is a vanilla soft-serve cone with a Cadbury Flake chocolate bar stuck in the middle, with an optional bit of syrup on top. It’s a treat you’ll find in an ice cream shop or truck.
“For my entire life, my British mother would talk about ’99’s’ as a British staple in the summertime,” Kelsey, 25, told INSIDER. “It’s something she says, ‘Doesn’t taste right,’ anywhere else but in England, so when I went to England for the first time when I was 16, it was one of the first things I tried. Now I echo her sentiments – soft serve ice cream, a drizzle of syrup, and a Cadbury Flake to top it all off is a British treat best tasted on the boardwalk in Blackpool or on the pebble beaches of Brighton.”
I guess the American equivalent would be a plain cone. No one quite knows where the origin is of sticking a candy bar in the middle of an ice cream cone is, but it’s probably best not to question such supposed deliciousness.
Fast food tastes different in the UK.
You won’t find exactly the same offerings at a British McDonald’s as you would at an American one. According to the Independent, McDonald’s french fries are made with fewer ingredients in the UK, so they taste soggier. KFC doesn’t sell American-style biscuits in the UK, and Dominos pizza is made differently because of a lack of Genetically-modified ingredients. In fact, many junk foods will taste different because GMOs are banned or largely restricted in the UK.
You’ll find a lot more savory pies in the UK.
Brits love a meat pie. Although Americans may enjoy a chicken or turkey pot pie, it’s just not as big of a thing here as it is across the pond. It’s not uncommon to see steak or pork meat pies in many varieties on a pub menu.