First entry for my British Experience
Only fitting that I talk about food first :)
Either by myth or deceit, I was led to believe that British food would be rubbish. I couldn't have been more surprised when both cities and rural villages offered succulent dishes. I would argue that the food I had in England was better than anything I tasted in Italy or France.
Portion sizes were never excessive like American restaurants. British restaurants never boasted free bread or free pre-food before the entree. It was an adjustment for an ardent carb enthusiast! If one wanted to eat bread before the meal, it would cost about 5 pounds for roughly a few pieces. It was harder waiting for the meal with nothing to munch on, and whenever we ordered bread it was gone in only seconds.
And I can't say enough about the desserts that glistened in shop windows and taunted me from menus. It was like I died and went to pastry heaven. Our first day in Kent we visited Stoneacre, (built in 1488 and owned by wealthy gentry for centuries), and ate the same cake used for Kate and William's wedding. It was a sticky decadent chocolate bar, not a typical cake. We ended up ordering seconds after my family gobbled down the first piece.
Although England is known to offer fish and chips at every corner, there were so many other wonderful things to eat I only ate them once. Outside of the city limits, the pubs are the place to sink your teeth in. Stews, handmade sandwiches, garden salads, 'pot pies' of all sorts, steak with 'new potatoes', and sometimes Italian and Indian dishes. Most pubs are more like restaurants than bars; with many dishes to choose from.
Almost every little village had it's own Italian restaurant. I ate as much Italian as I did British food. The Italian restaurants weren't establishments by British people but owned and run by authentic Italians. Eating the food was like going back to Italy but with some improvements. The true Italian dishes in Italy are a little drier with not as much sauce. But England and America have the same appetite for sauce, so the dishes never seemed bland.
In London, every street is lined with cafes and coffee shops. The Londoners are more in a hurry than any New Yorker I've met. Cafes offer quick breakfast choices like pre-made sandwiches and scones. Don't order espresso, unless you are fine with having a tablespoon of concentrated caffeine. The espresso in France is the size of a small shot glass, but the English espresso is like a spoonful of medicine.
Pret-A-Manger in London (I'm in the pink jacket)
After the third day, we stayed in consecutive Bed and Breakfasts as we toured around England. Our first Bed and Breakfast was in Faversham, Kent. On the morning of June 16th, we had our first Full English breakfast. Full English breakfast includes fried egg, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, baked beans, slice of tomato, and toast. It was so delicious and filling. But as the trip wore on we got the same menu at every bed and breakfast. There was no variation and soon we became sick of the Full English breakfast.
Brendley Farm in Faversham
I rate the food in England (Kent, Essex, Midlands, Yorkshire, and London) and Wales FIVE STARS!
*no sources were used in the making of this post