The Culinary History of Britain

Most of us enjoy fish and chips, chicken korma and a nice cup of tea, but few of us consider how our culinary quirks came into being. This course will explore how different cultures, including conquerors and the conquered, have influenced British cuisine throughout history and continue to do so today.

Featuring subject matter expert

Anne Murcott
Anne Murcott

Honorary Professorial Research Associate, SOAS, University of London

Anne Murcott is an author of books on food and society in recognition of which Uppsala University awarded her an honorary doctorate in 2009. She is now writing a history of food packaging (to be published by Bloomsbury).

With so many different cuisines on offer, does traditional British cuisine have a place in modern society?

It depends on what you mean by traditional. Are you talking about late Medieval times when virtually everybody was eating pottage? Or a Sunday lunch in 1931 in Manchester, where a family served roast New Zealand lamb in celebration? It's hard to define which is truly "traditional" because cuisine is always on the move.

Course Overview

  • Review the contributions of the Romans, Vikings and Normans to the early British diet, as conquering nations introduced new foods and techniques.
  • Consider that the foods we think of as British were actually introduced to Britain at various times in history, including turnips, cucumbers, tea and potatoes.
  • Reflect on the social impact of imported goods such as sugar, spices and tea and how these were enjoyed mainly by the upper classes due to their cost.
  • Ponder the effects of immigration to Britain from various parts of the world, which greatly increased the presence and popularity of foreign cuisines.
Course content
  • 8 Full HD Video Lectures
  • Downloadable Course Handouts
  • Knowledge Assessment Quiz
  • Interactive Group Discussion Task
  • Q&A Session with a Subject Matter Expert
  • Certificate of Achievement

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