Come Dine with Me… unless you’re British

Adrian de León
5 min readFeb 25, 2023
Photo by John Fornander on Unsplash

London is a city that has erected grandiose buildings, crystal skyscrapers and installed bright lights to convince itself it has successfully emancipated itself from the rest of the country. The monuments, the high-brow cultural centres, and the luxury stores have given the tools for Albion folk to appropriate cultural epithets that are foreign to them. The richness of modern British culture is exemplified by the ease with which foreign influences are embedded within society. We have proclaimed tea as being the bedrock of our culture as if the leaves grew in the highlands of our Isles rather than in the hot climates of the faraway cultures we brutally colonised. A survey of British people’s choice for national dish will unashamedly (and proudly) point to a variety of curries, as if the chillies, paneer and coconut milk were products driven from the soil and cattle of Somerset farms, rather than ransacked from the heat of south Asian territories. Jungle and Garage music are cited as the epitome of UK music; the visual aesthetics that accompany the genres will focus on the urban centres of the country’s cities, as if the rhythms and cadence of the music are a representation of wet autumns and gloomy winters and not a bi-product of the caribbean dichotomy of going through hell in paradise-like settings. Despite the inherent tensions, UK culture is rich, vivid, and the sole reason the country hasn’t fallen into international oblivion, despite the best efforts of the ruling classes. However, despite the success stories of assimilation there is one area that remains out of bounds and indigestible to British people’s way of living: the art of dining.

To speak in broad strokes, food and dining can play one of two roles in countries and cultures: it is either the culinary end-point to celebrate a nation’s produce, craftsmanship and traditions such as in France, Italy, Mexico or Japan; or, it can be a simple matter of sustenance, such as in Britain. With the former cultures, food and dining is a cultural and societal experience, the ingredients tell a story to which the audience is receptive to. In the latter culture, food exists to sustain an activity, so the breakfasts are hearty and the calories are stacked because what matters is the activity that follows the food. If you work in an office in France, you will spend two hours at lunch, tucking-into a homemade…

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