Fish & chips, Saint George, a brew – all quintessentially British, right? Wrong!
I can’t believe it’s not British!
The good ole cockney accent, a stiff upper lip and a game of cricket, all typically British.
Turns out though, not everything we think of as homegrown is.
1. Fancy a cuppa?
While we may like to lay claim to the mighty brew, beware…
Tea originated in China as a medicinal drink. It came West during the 16th century. But putting the kettle on for a cuppa only became fashionable in Britain during the 17th century, when King Charles II married Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza.
The Queen made tea the drink of royalty, which quickly became a popular import via the East India Company.
2. Oh my cod!
Wrapped up in yesterday’s newspaper, this traditional greasy dinner is anything but old news. But is the seaside staple really British?
Battered fried fish first arrived on our shores around 1660 with Jewish refugees from Portugal and Spain.
Then, 20 years later, as the story goes, a Belgian housewife unable to get hold of any fish got creative with some spuds, cutting them into fish shapes and frying them.
Us Brits can, however, take credit for uniting the two imports and serving up a classic combo.
3. Make mine a double!
A pint down your local? Such a British tradition…
In fact, the great British boozer actually started out as an Italian wine bar!
It was after the arrival of the Romans, and the Roman road network, that inns began to pop up and became the go-to place for a refreshing beverage.
4. Saintly support
The patron saint of England, Saint George, is closely identified with us Brits and our ideals of honour, bravery and gallantry. But the legendary soldier was actually born abroad! Although many have debated his birthplace, it’s believed the dragon-slayer was born to a Greek Christian noble family in Syria.
5. Pull the chukker one!
Nothing says summer to the upper classes more than a game of polo. However, it originated in Persia way back in the 6th century. And the modern incarnation for British high-rollers is an anglicised version of the game English plantation owners learned from locals in the Indian state of Assam, in the 19th century.
6. One saucy story
Slathered, spattered or squirted onto your grub, you can’t beat a splodge of tommy k. The sweet yet savoury condiment is an essential for most British diners. Except, it originates from Southeast Asia, and was a completely tomato-free, fermented fish sauce…yum!
7. Eye, eye!
Teamed with a top hat, three-piece suit and a toff, monocles just feel British, in every respect. But the dandy little magnifying lens was actually created by Germans in the 18th century.
Still the ultimate indication of class, it was British gentlemen who popularised the so-called ‘eye ring’ at the turn of the 19th century.
8. Pedal power
Named after the British penny and farthing coins, one much larger than the other, you’d be forgiven for thinking us clever lot are the pedal power behind the penny-farthing bike.
Alas, it’s based on the French high-wheeler, designed by Parisian Eugène Meyer in the 1860s.