English B2 Reading Practise – Traditional English Foods

Improve your English comprehension skills by reading these articles written specifically for English learners at a B2 level. We try to write these B2 articles about things that are traditionally British, so you can learn more about the culture while you improve your English reading skills.

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This week, our article is going to be about British food, so let’s get started.

British Food

Britain is known for lots of things; our monarchy, our terrible weather and of course our terrible food. But it’s really not as bad as it’s reputation makes out.

Some of our traditional food may seem strange to you, but if you come from a cold climate where you need a bit of stodge*, then these types of food are perfect. Let’s take a look at a few together.

Fish and Chips

The most famous British meal is probably fish and chips, which literally consists of a piece of fish and some chips (or fries if you’ve learnt American English). The chips are different from fries though because they’re not done in the same style you would find in the USA. The potatoes have been cut into thicker chunks and then deep fried in oil. As for the fish, it normally comes covered in batter but if you think that’s just pushing it a bit too far for your health, you can ask for it without. You can also add mushy peas on the side if you want to be particularly traditional.

Fish and chips wouldn’t be complete without some salt and vinegar, though if you’re not used to vinegar it can be quite a strong taste so maybe put just a bit on and if you like you can add more.

Although this is a famous British dish, it’s not something that a British person would typically eat every week, or if they did, it would be a once a week treat, for example on a Saturday night. Fish and chips tend to be a treat that you would be if you took a day trip to the coast or to the Lake District. Our day to day life does not consist of battered fish and deep fried chips because that is a very quick way to a heart attack.

*Stodge is a colloquial term to refer to food that is hearty.

Sunday Dinner

Sunday dinner is probably the most typically British meal available, but there’s no real set ingredient list, instead it depends on what meat and vegetables your house hold enjoys eating. Traditionally in the UK, on a Sunday in the early afternoon the family would all come together and eat a warm, hearty dinner. The dinner would consist of a series of vegetables that had been roasted in the oven. Roast potatoes feature on the majority of Sunday dinners, and you will also find some combination of carrots, turnip, Yorkshire puddings, sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.

Next there’s the meat. Although less important now, when families didn’t have a lot of money, it was very important for them to obtain a good cut of meat for the Sunday dinner to share with their family. Nowadays the majority of people can afford good quality meat most days of the week but when the tradition first started this wasn’t the case. Just like the vegetables, the meat chosen depends on the taste of the household, there’s no set meat that you have to include for Sunday dinner.

Finally the most important element of the meal; the gravy. Gravy features in many British meals and it if a defining food of our culture. It may not be as popular in other countries, but most British people believe that you don’t really have a meal until you add gravy to it. Therefore, if you’re ever in the UK and you get the opportunity to eat a Sunday dinner, make sure you try some gravy. And remember, the thicker, the better.

Bangers and Mash

Bangers and mash is a British classic that nearly every child in the UK consumed while they were growing up. As new foods are influencing our diets, this has become less common but it will produce a sense of nostalgia in the majority of people who grew up in the UK.

The dish is relatively simple; bangers refers to sausages, and mash refers to mashed potatoes. These are the basics of the meal but you can customise it however you would like. Most people add a gravy, often with onions. Sometimes peas can accompany this dinner, or you can go the other way and eat your bangers and mash with baked beans. If you choose this option then the gravy is not advisable.

Bangers and mash has been a popular dish in the UK for a long time but with the rise of vegetarianism and veganism there was worry that dishes like this would be replaced. Luckily, fake meat companies have kept this kind of thing in mind and have produced different ranges of delicious sausages so you can still enjoy these traditional meals as the world moves forward.

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Final thoughts

We hope you’ve found this B2 article useful for your English learning and we hope you want to try some of our delicious or not so delicious British food now.

Do you find these articles useful? If so please let us know in the comments below. And if there are any other articles that you would like us to write similarly make sure to tell us so we can cater them for your needs.

In some English exams you need to practise reading about the environment, education or even science. So if you know there’s a topic that you’d like to practise tell us and we’ll produce some content for you as quickly as possible.

Be sure to check out some of our other B2 English topics to help you with your reading comprehension:

British holidays

The environment

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