My Favorite British Traditions

I’m a creature of habit.  I love routine and rituals. From the small things, like my morning Americano with soy milk, to the bigger ones, like our holiday traditions, I find so much comfort and joy in them.  

Since moving out to the Cotswolds two months (!!!) ago, I’ve missed some of my old routines from home.  For example, on Friday nights, we go out for sushi, and on Saturday mornings, we go to Montclair Bread Company for croissants and doughnuts.  Before the pandemic put a damper on entertaining, Sundays were for “Sunday dinner”, an Italian midday feast full of pasta and salad and dessert enjoyed with family and friends.

Here in England, we’ve discovered new rituals and routines, and like back home, most involve food.  Here are my favorite British traditions, the ones I’m most certainly bringing back with me.

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1. Afternoon tea 

I adore afternoon tea.  There are a few versions of this British tradition, but the biggest and fanciest kind is such a treat.  Obviously, there’s tea, but then you’re served three tiers of food.  The first tier is a selection of savory sandwiches.  The second is scones with clotted cream and fruit preserves.  The third and final tier is a variety of cakes.  While each sampling of sandwiches and cakes are perhaps three bites each, the meal turns out to be quite rich.  For this reason, a fancy afternoon tea is something we do once a year during the holiday season.

My favorite part of afternoon tea is the scones.  We recently stayed at the Egerton House Hotel, where they offer a vegan option.  I got the recipe from them and am working on putting my own spin on it, which I hope to share with you next week.  When we go back home, I love the idea of having afternoon tea on Saturday afternoons, consisting of tea and only the scones.  In England, this is known as “cream tea”.

2. Sunday roast

This is similar to the Italian Sunday dinner, but instead of pasta and “gravy” (known as red sauce to most) served with meatballs and Italian bread, it’s roast meat and gravy (known as gravy to most), served with a side of vegetables and Yorkshire pudding.  A note on “pudding”:  this is one of the most confusing terms as an American in England.  The meaning seems to vary from “dessert” to “souffle”.  Yorkshire pudding appears to be a sort of bread soufflé, the purpose of which is to soak up all the gravy at the end.  

While I’m half Italian, I’m also half British so I won’t be giving up Sunday dinner, but I’m definitely excited to rotate in Sunday roast.

3. The village pub

Somewhere in between my 20s and 30s, I stopped going to bars.  This probably coincided with my first pregnancy.  In England, the pub isn’t (necessarily) synonymous with drunken debauchery.  It’s something of an institution, where there’s a real reverence for beer, but more importantly, it’s where people connect in real life.  

While I’m not much of a beer drinker, I’m married to someone who runs a craft beer brewery, and I’ve never even been there!  This is something I’m determined to change, not so much for the beer, but more for the positive vibe and camaraderie he’s always telling me about.  It’s the closest thing to a pub, where kids and dogs are just as welcome as the beer connoisseurs. Of course, it’s still me so I’m nagging him endlessly to make an organic beer.  Stay tuned!

Honorable mention

Honorable mention goes to baths instead of showers and sitting in front of a cozy fire every night.

What do you think of these British traditions?  Which one would you most enjoy?

8 thoughts on “My Favorite British Traditions”

  1. How did I not know about Steven’s brewery? (Yes that was my main takeaway here haha). This all sounds amazing! I love the tea sandwiches (you know me and my savory tooth).

  2. When I was nine my parents took my one brother and me to London. I distinctly remember the scones. They were so good! They weren’t super sweet like the ones I’ve tried here. Is my memory correct? Are the scones less sweet?

  3. I feel like I can relate to this. I spent a year in England as a teen and we experienced the pubs with my parents. Mind you I wasn’t drinking then but it may explain my love for craft beer breweries in the present day! 😆

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