AD - 410 AD
were eaten by Roman centurions. They consisted of meat wrapped
in a primitive kind of pastry which kept the contents warm on
diet of a Roman would consist of the following - for breakfast:
bean meal mash and unlevened breadcakes; for lunch: fruit, a
sweetmeat, cheese and wine; in the evening: the convivium -
might be a mixture of meat and fish, some vegetables and cereals.
returns to Saxon rule after the Romans return home. However,
we can thank the Romans for introducing cabbages, peas, cherries
and oyster farming into Britain.
Welsh army - each man wearing a leek to identify him from the
enemy - attracts and defeats a Saxon army. The leek then becomes
the national emblem of Wales.
victory in the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror distributes
English estates to his Norman friends. French language infiltrates
Britain - Boeuf, mouton, veau, porc and poularde will later
become beef, mutton, veal, pork, and poultry.
Domesday Book lists almost 6,000 English water mills used for
grinding grain to produce flour for the population south of
the Severn and Trent Rivers.
wines are introduced to Britain. They are cheaper than our own
and result in the decline of the English wine industry. England
begins to import sherry from Jerez, Spain and port wine from
first laws that regulate the price of bread in England come
into force. Later during this century, and for the following
six centuries, the statute ‘The Assize of Bread’ fixed the size,
weight and price of loaves, in relation to the price of wheat.
English export grain - wheat, barley and oats - to Europe. The
grain is collected in estate barns and in towns and then carried
in large wagons to the ports.
were first imported from Spain. The ships which brought them
also carried spices. Oranges were frequently imported by tens
of thousands per ship, sometimes as many as a hundred thousand
at a time, as happened in March 1480. The oranges imported at
this time were probably a bitter variety.
Bubonic Plague, which had been sweeping across Europe, arrived
in Britain through the southern coast ports. Known as The Black
Death it severely reduced the density of the population. In
the early 14th century there were more fishmongers than butchers
in the UK, but after 1350 this trend was reversed.
Richard II invites the country’s rich barons to dine with him.
200 cooks prepare a banquet to feed 2,000 guests. The menu includes
- 1,400 oxen lying in salt, 120 sheep’s heads, 13 calves, 12
boars, 200 rabbits, 144 partridges, 1,200 pigeons, 720 hens
and 11,000 eggs. For pudding - a three foot high marzipan castle.
Forme of Cury, said to be England’s first recipe book, was
written for the household of Richard II.
Archbishop of York is appointed and a feast ensues of 105 oxen,
6 wild bulls, 1,000 sheep, 304 calves, and 400 swans.
sugar is purified at a refinery in London into white crystalline
cones each up to 14 pounds in weight.
sea captain John Hawkins is credited with having introduced
the potato to England. It was slow to catch on, mainly because
people found out it was a member of the nightshade family, a
poisonous group of plants. The potato’s popularity did increase
after a reintroduction by Sir Francis Drake who gave them to
Sir Walter Raleigh.
was introduced into Britain at this time. Coffee had reached
England before this and it was through the coffee houses that
people were first introduced to this new drink. The first tea
used in England came from China, with the first Indian tea being
sold in London in 1839.
Corn Laws were passed to protect British Wheat Growers. The
duty on imported wheat was raised and price controls on bread
lifted. Bread prices rose dramatically.
Fish and Chips
Lees opened a fish and chip shop in Oldham and in 1863 Joseph
Mallin opened a Fish and Chip shop in the East End. (There is
actually some debate as to which was the first to be opened).
By the early 1900s there are more than 30,000 chippies in Britain.
produced the first milk chocolate bar, prompted by the increased
import of Swiss chocolate.
sausage production began and independent makers were phased
out. Sausages were now made from small amounts of cheap meat
bulked out with fat and filler.
began making ice cream and sold it in the shops where they normally
sold their meat products during the months of May, June and
one of the first and certainly the most well-known Indian restaurant
was opened in Regent Street, London by an Englishman, Edward
Palmer. He employed chefs from India and served hot curries
as well as French and Ceylonese dishes. High society met there,
for example, Prince Edward, King Gustav of Sweden and Charlie
first sit down fish and chip restaurant was opened in a simple
wooden hut in Guisely near Leeds - the proprietor was Harry
bread first appeared in Britain under the Wonderbread label.
Free School Milk
school milk was provided from 1937 to 1979.
coffee was first sold in England. This changed our coffee drinking
habits. Coffee essence, for example, Camp, which had been sold
since the 1850s was now used for cooking, and instant coffee
was hereafter drunk in vast quantities by the British.
was introduced in January 1940 and was gradually extended during
the war. Food was the main item. A council was set up to work
out how much nutrition different people needed. Children and
pregnant mothers received more. The foods that were rationed
were meat, fats, cheese, butter, milk, eggs and sweets. Bread,
potatoes and vegetables were never rationed. Rationing led to
an improvement in people's health as they could not eat fatty
foods and had to eat more vegetables, potatoes and bread. Fish
and chips was one of the few meals not to be rationed during
WWII. The forces ate them for energy, and fish and chip vans
were laid on to take meals out to the evacuees.
National Loaf was introduced. It was roughly the same composition
as the brown bread of today. This was due to a shortage of shipping
space for white flour.
Smith, Minister for Food, announced cuts in bacon, poultry,
egg rations and withdrew completely the availability of dried
eggs. There was a massive outcry.
Winter of Discontent
were lower than they had ever been during the war. The 1946/47
winter months were labelled ‘The Winter of Discontent’.
Cohen launched Tesco self-service stores, which revolutionised
shopping in the UK. Another 20 new Tesco stores were opened
in 1950. Business continued to grow and by the end of the 1990s
supermarkets were so large that they were usually sited on purpose-built
ended. With some foods rationing had already finished, for example,
sugar rationing ended in 1949.
the Control of Inflation Act 1973 - wages and prices of most
goods were subject to governmental control. In order to keep
prices down the government subsidised staple foods - including
bread. The price of a large white sliced loaf in 1974 was 14.5
Currie claimed that most of Britain's eggs were infected with
salmonella. Sales of eggs fell at the time by 10 per cent to
27 million a day. 5,000 small producers went bust.
became the first supermarket to offer shopping online.
European Commission proposed massive cuts of up to 74 per cent
in Britain’s fish catches - 74 per cent cut in hake catches
allowed in the North Sea, a 56 per cent cut in cod and a 35
per cent cut in whiting. The crisis was partly due to overfishing
but also to the fact that cod were at the bottom of their seven-year
cycle and that the North Sea is becoming warmer.
Steve Thoburn was prosecuted for selling his fruit and veg in
pounds and ounces and refusing to use kilos. He went against
the European directive which came into force on 1st January
2000 requiring shopkeepers to weigh loose goods on metric scales.