Food and Drink
Whether we buy it at a restaurant, bar, pub, gastropub, takeaway, fast food restaurant, diner, supermarket or farmer’s market, or grow it in our own gardens and brew it in our own fermenters, one thing’s for certain: food and drink isn’t just sustenance, consumed to give us nutritional support, provide hydration and keep us alive. The meals we eat – breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper and snacks – are also at the very core of our culture and our social lives and central to our joy in life.
Though food is a part of our daily routine and though we have built our social lives around dining (in couples, in groups, in families…), it first of all plays a very basic function: our bodies need food to survive.
It gives us essential nutrients, each of which play a part in keeping the human body alive and functioning at an optimum level: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. These essential nutrients cannot be synthesized in the body, which is why we look to food and drink to provide them.
We ingest nutrients through our mouths and they pass through our bodies, satisfying the needs of our metabolisms and maintaining the function of our organs and tissues.
The sources of food
Plants are at the bottom of the food chain and, thus, at the origin of most of our foodstuffs. Raw, unadulterated plants themselves, of course, make up a large part of our diet, but even when we eat animals, we tend to primarily eat the ones that were reared on plants (mainly cereal grain like corn, wheat and rice) because they’re the ones that are the most nutritious.
There are, of course, some foods which are not based on plants or animals, such as mushrooms (a type of fungus). Fungi and other ambient bacteria are at the core of pickles and fermented foods, such as sourdough bread, beer, cheese and yoghurt. We also find nutritional value in other non-plant substances, such as blue-green algae and rock salt.
The world is full of amazing plants that we have learned to forage for, cultivate in our gardens and commercially farm to be sold in shops, supermarkets and restaurants, specifically for human consumption. Did you know there are around 2,000 plants species cultivated especially for food?
We begin with seeds, from which most plants spring. Seeds themselves are an amazing source of nutrients, such as omega fats and fibre. They can help reduce blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure. They also leave a low environmental footprint on the planet. You’ll probably be surprised to learn that most foods consumed by humans come from seeds: corn, wheat, rice, beans and nuts – these are all seed-based foods and they at the heart of our diets, from our cornflakes to our breads and our pasta.
Some seeds turn into plants that bear fruits – the ripened ovaries of plants, which contain new seeds to continue the cycle of life. Many of those fruits aren’t just suitable for human consumption, but give us all kinds of essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. When we think of fruits, we tend to think of the sweet ones we eat as snacks and in desserts, such as apples, oranges and pears. But we also eat lots of botanical fruits like tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes and pumpkins – many of us think of those foods more as vegetables, but because they are seed-bearing pods, grown on plants, they are technically fruits!
Some seeds grow into plants that, themselves, are perfect for human consumption. Root vegetables like potatoes, turnips, swedes, carrots and ginger. Bulbs like onions, garlic and shallots. Leaves like rocket, spinach, lettuce and all the various herbs. And then inflorescent vegetables (flowers and buds, in other words) like broccoli, artichokes, cauliflower and cabbage.
Animals and their bi-products, such as milk, eggs and honey, form a significant part of most humans’ diets.
Meat is the muscle of the animal or is taken from the animal’s internal organs, which we know as offal (e.g. liver and kidneys). Our species has eaten meat since prehistoric times and we domesticated certain animals, such as chickens, pigs, sheep and cows via farming, specifically for the production of meat.
Meat is mostly made up of water, protein and fat. It is edible raw (some people think the less cooked it is, the more exquisite it tastes) but is usually cooked, seasoned or processed to stop it from decomposing and going rotten.
Of course, some people choose not to eat meat as part of their diet – this is what we call vegetarianism. Others choose not to eat any animal products at all – this is what we call veganism.
Types of food
Let’s take a look at some of the different classifications of food common to our understanding of eating and drinking.
When food hasn’t been preserved and is still in edible condition (i.e. it hasn’t gone rotten), this is what we call fresh food. In terms of fruit and veg, this means food that’s just been harvested and washed, ready for human consumption. In terms of meat and fish, it means food that’s just been slaughtered and butchered or caught and cleaned.
Some fresh foods keep for longer than others. Largely, fruit and vegetables keep for longer than meat and fish. Dairy will go off very quickly, as will fish. Meat tends to keep slightly longer, but all fresh foods are best kept refrigerated if you wish to maintain their nutritional value and slow the deterioration process.
Freezing food is a way of preserving it between the time that it is caught, killed or harvested and the time it is prepared. When you freeze food, you turn its moisture to ice, which discourages bacterial reproduction. The Food Standards Agency advises people to freeze food on the day of purchase to reduce waste and prolong the lifespan of our foods.
There’s a difference between a healthy diet and a health food diet. The former tends to mean a balanced diet that improves our overall health, filled with essential nutrients and the right amount of calorie intake. Health food, on the other hand is marketed specifically as a way of boosting our health beyond what is usually achievable from just eating a balanced diet.
Health foods might include organic foods, free from additives. They might include whole foods or vegetarian foods. They might even include dietary supplements that come in pill form, such as spirulina capsules. There is a huge market for health food all over the world, where you will find health food supermarkets, grocery shops and restaurants, largely promoting the nutritional value of food above and beyond the flavour value.
Oh so delicious, oh so naughty and oh well… perhaps not so bad in moderation as part of a balanced diet. The term junk food was coined in the 1950s, referring to food that – if used as the staple of a person’s diet – would cause malnutrition and poor health. Some people call it ‘cheat food’ while others think of it as ‘treat food’. Whichever term you use, it tends to refer to food that is high in calories from sugar or fat and low in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals.
The risks of a ‘junk food diet’ include obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other chronic health conditions. So most people quite rightly only eat this type of food sparingly, choosing to see it as an occasional treat for the taste buds but not something they should eat regularly and certainly not every day.
Organic food is that which attempts to use natural resources cyclically, balance ecology and conserve biodiversity. Different cultures around the world have different definitions that are applied by law and to be considered an organic producer, you must meet the standards of the law where those definitions apply.
Generally, organic food is free from man-made fertiliser and pesticides, which have caused damage to local ecosystems and groundwater and which may be detrimental to health if consumed by humans in large quantities. Some people say that organic food is tastier, though this hasn’t been supported by taste tests. And there is not currently enough evidence to say that organic food is either safer or healthier to eat.
Foods that have been passed down from one generation to the next as part of a specific cultural heritage are described as traditional food. They may be local to a town or city (such as scouse in Liverpool), a county (such as Yorkshire puddings or Cornish pasties) or a nation (such as fish and chips and chicken tikka masala – two staples of British cuisine).
We tend to think of traditional foods as homemade or cooked on-site, though this isn’t always necessarily the case. Food manufacturers striving for tradition, however, tend to reach for selling points like locally sourced ingredients, original recipes and the direct influence of the chef who originated the dish or was handed down the recipe.
Whole food (or wholefoods)
Whole foods are foods that haven’t been processed or refined to any significant degree before being eaten. Dried beans and other pulses, fresh and dried fruits, fresh vegetables, tubers like potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams – these would all be considered whole foods. Some people – though this is contested by many – would also include fresh meat in a whole food diet. The term is somewhat synonymous with organic food, in that it tends to be unrefined, not genetically modified and grown in soils fertilised only with animal and vegetable waste. However, whereas organic food is defined in law, wholefoods are not.
The meals of the day
There’s little more complicated for a non-British person than trying to understand the meals of the day. As a culture, we rarely agree on their names or when they should be eaten. That’s because of all the various cultural differences that have occurred up and down the country over the centuries and all the various regional and international influences that have passed through British culture.
However, these are the traditional British meals of the day, which you’ll all recognise:
The meaning of breakfast is literally to break fast: in other words to resume eating again after a period of fasting. This generally occurs overnight, so breakfast is eaten in the morning as our first meal of the day. Some people say breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it kickstarts your metabolism and helps you burn more calories as the day goes on. Every time you eat breakfast – whether it’s a bowl of cereal or a plate of eggs, bacon, sausage and tomatoes, you’re telling your body that calories are coming and to get to work.
The first snack of the day in traditional British culture (though not so often heard of anymore), elevenses are so-called because – you guessed it – you have them at 11 o’ clock in the morning. It’s usually light refreshments with tea or coffee, such as a small sandwich or a biscuit.
The word lunch comes from the word luncheon, which is derived from the old Anglo-Saxon word nuncheon, which literally meant ‘noon-time drink.’ It tends to be the second meal of the day nowadays. Dependent on the culture of the country or region you live in, lunch can either be the biggest meal of the day or a light meal to keep you going until dinnertime.
So-called if you’re from the social elite, working class people in the North of England, however, refer to it as just ‘tea’. For the former, it’s a light snack of cucumber sandwiches or other delicate light bites, served with a pot of English breakfast tea. For the latter, it’s the evening meal served with a lovely mug of… you guessed it… English breakfast tea.
Did you know that the word dinner actually comes from the Old French word for breakfast, disner? It really means, ‘the first big meal of the day,’ which is why it’s been adopted for the evening meal in countries like the UK and America, because dinner tends to be the biggest meal of the day. In Britain, people historically had their dinner at around midday and, in the evenings, ‘afternoon tea’ (a snack in the South) or ‘tea’ (a lighter meal in the North) and then ‘supper’ later in the day. People in the UK eat dinner between around 5pm and 7pm, though the culture has moved toward later eating times due to changes in work culture and it’s now not uncommon for Brits to have their evening meal anywhere up to 10pm.
A light evening meal that’s today generally eaten late in the evening as a post-dinner snack, supper used to be the main evening meal, because dinner was eaten earlier in the day (at around midday). Supper might consist of a sandwich, such as cheese and pickle or some hot buttered toast. Nothing too heavy, as it’s the meal you have before bed and going to bed on a full stomach isn’t good for the metabolism and can give you indigestion and tummy ache.
Types of cuisine
The word cuisine is actually the French word for kitchen. Which makes sense when you think about it. A cuisine basically describes a style of cooking characterised by certain types of ingredients, dishes, cooking implements and even cutlery and crockery. It’s usually associated with a geographical region, too, and this tends to be broadly national, though there are other variations: some cuisines, like kosher for instance, are defined by the influence of certain religious restrictions and dogma.
Here are just some of the most popular cuisines eaten in Britain today:
The food culture in Britain is hugely diverse in its influence, partly because we’ve been invaded so many times in our history by cultures who brought their foods with them and partly because of our colonial past, which saw Britain absorbing the food cultures of other places.
The Anglo-Saxons in England were the first Europeans to develop stews made of meat and savoury herbs. The Normans from France brought with them exotic spices in the middle ages. And, during the era of the British Empire, Indian cuisine first made its way into the UK. Modern Britain is quite the diverse culinary island as a result of all of this.
The best known British dishes include:
Full English breakfast
Fried or grilled sausage, bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms with eggs and toast – and, not everyone agrees but it’s a staple, baked beans.
Fish and Chips
Generally, haddock or cod deep fried in a batter of flour and water or flour and beer with chipped deep fried potatoes – traditionally all fried in beef dripping, though nowadays mostly in vegetable oil.
Steak and Kidney Pie
Diced beef with the diced kidney of beef, lamb or pork, fried with onion and brown gravy, then baked in a pie of short crust pastry
Minced lamb (you can use beef, but this would be called a cottage pie, as the shepherd in the name refers to the fact that lamb is the principle ingredient), fried with onions and brown gravy and then topped with buttery mashed potato and baked in the oven until crispy on top.
Bangers and Mash
Also known as sausage and mash, this dish is made from pork, lamb or beef sausages – most typically Cumberland sausages – served with buttery mashed potatoes and traditionally served with rich onion gravy.
This light meal eaten between lunch and dinner at around 3.30pm is something of an elite observance in British culture, which originates in the wealthy social classes. A pot of English breakfast tea is served with delicate, crust-free sandwiches (such as cucumber or egg and cress sandwiches), cakes and pastries (Victoria sponge, Battenberg cake or shortbread biscuits).
Chicken Tikka Masala
The origin of this spicy, red-orange curry dish has long been disputed. Some people suggest it was created in the Indian subcontinent but it is largely accepted that it was developed by Bangladeshi migrant chefs in the 1960s who developed a number of new, different, inauthentic “Indian” dishes. There’s a version of the story that suggests chicken tikka masala originated in a the Shish Mahal restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland by British Pakistani chef, Ali Ahmed Aslam. One thing we know for certain about chicken masala, though is this: it is officially the British National Dish, such is its massive popularity.
One of the most popular cuisines in the British diet, Indian food is rich in both ingredients and flavour. Indian cuisine incorporates all manner of various spices, which give it its huge variety of flavours. There are actually lots of substrata of Indian cuisine due to all the different climates, cultures, ethnic groups and religions within the Indian subcontinent. Colonialism also played a role in the development of Indian cuisine (mulligatawny soup was the first soup ever to be eaten in India, for instance, simply because it was demanded by British settlers).
The most popular dishes ordered at British restaurants aren’t always strictly of Indian origin (some of them were developed in the 1960s in the UK by Indian chefs who’d migrated here).
Here are some of the most-ordered Indian restaurant foods in Britain today:
Fried dough pockets stuffed with vegetables and spices (and sometimes meat).
A thick leavened flatbread cooked in a tandoor at very high temperatures and greased with ghee (clarified butter).
Dhal (or dal)
Lentils cooked with spices. Sometimes served with a soup-like texture, sometimes serves thicker so they can be picked up with flatbread, dhal is a staple of Indian cuisine.
Chicken cooked in a mild tomato, butter and cream sauce with delicate spices.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Generally accepted to be a British-Indian dish (it’s the British National Dish!), this meal of yoghurt-and-spice marinated chicken, cooked in a spiced tomato sauce, nevertheless finds its home in Indian restaurants all over the world.
Spinach and spices cooked with cubes of fried paneer (Indian cottage cheese).
This extremely spicy, meat-based, curry is one of the hottest dishes on the Indian menu. It comes from Goa originally, where it tends to be made with pork, but in British Indian restaurants, it’s incredibly rare to see pork on the menu, so you’ll most often see chicken or lamb vindaloo on the menu.
This delicious, braised curry tends to be made of lamb (or sometimes goat) and comes from Kashmir, originally, where its recipe was conceived using ginger, bay leaves, cardamom and dried chilli powder.
A veggie favourite made of potatoes, cauliflower and spices. It gets its lovely yellow colour from the fresh turmeric used to spice the dish and is often served as a side dish to a main meat course.
A huge part of Chinese culture, Chinese cuisine is one of the most popular styles of food all over the world thanks to the vast numbers of people who’ve migrated to other places. Chinese food staples such as soy sauce, noodles, rice, tofu and tea are part of our everyday lives and most homes, whether Chinese or otherwise, will have a wok in the kitchen cupboards.
Here are just some of the delicious Chinese dishes you’ll find on restaurant menus:
Szechuan (or Sichuan) Pork
Poached slices of spicy pork, coated with egg white and starch to preserve its tenderness.
Mined meat or seafood and chopped veggies, all wrapped up in a thin pastry skin and boiled, steamed or fried to delicate perfection.
Stir fried noodles, in other words! Usually, a chow mein will include chicken, beef, prawns or pork alongside onions and celery.
This popular roasted dish comes from Beijing and is one of China’s national dishes. The pulled or sliced, slow-roasted duck is eaten inside pancakes with sweet blackbean sauce or soy sauce and mashed-up garlic.
Sweet and Sour Pork
Nowadays, all kinds of different meats are used in sweet and sour dishes, but traditionally it was just port. It’s bright orange in colour and gets its name from the flavour given to it by the combination of sugar, vinegar and soy sauce.
Kung Pao Chicken
One of the most famous Szechuan-style dishes, Kung Pao Chicken combines dried chillies and fried peanuts and, if you’re in the west, sliced vegetables, flash fried in the wok.
Crispy Spring Rolls
A key part of Cantonese dim sum and a favourite on British Chinese restaurant menus, spring rolls are thin pastries stuffed with bean sprouts, veggies and sometimes meat and then deep fried in the wok until they’re crispy and golden.
The most famous of all the Mediterranean cuisines around the world, the tomato-based deliciousness of Italian cuisine is a part of our everyday lives. Regional diversity between the north and south has given the world a rich menu of simple dishes, which tend to be based on no more than four key ingredients (often fewer). Milan is famous for its risottos, Bologna for its tortellini and Naples for a couple of foods you may have heard of – pizza and spaghetti.
Here are some of the most famous Italian dishes:
A simple dish of bread dough, rolled out flat then tossed until it’s very thin in the middle and topped traditionally with sieved tomatoes, garlic, mozzarella, fresh basil and olive oil (known as a margherita). Though, you know… you can also get everything from salami to baked beans on a pizza, such is its centrality to our culture.
This dish comes from Bologna, which is where it gets its name. Minced beef is cooked in a little olive oil with onions, garlic, sieved tomatoes and mixed Italian herbs (a ragù) and then served over spaghetti pasta. (Today, you’ll also tend to find it enriched with pancetta and even mushrooms, though the Bolognese people might have something to say about it).
One of the oldest pasta dishes in existence, lasagne stacks layers of ragù and thin pasta slices, one on top of the other. Then a bechamel sauce is added on top and, finally, cheese is added to the top – ricotta, parmesan, even cheddar (when in Britain!) Then it’s cooked in the oven until golden.
Almost identical to lasagne in the way it’s cooked, cannelloni as it’s known in the UK substitutes lasagne sheets for cannelloni pasta – large, thin cylinders of pasta, which are stuffed with ragù and then prepared just like lasagne. In Italy, though, cannelloni pasta is stuffed with everything from spinach and ricotta to courgette and mushroom.
This Northern Italian rice dish cooks rice in a saffron infused broth until it achieves a creamy texture. The broth might include meat or fish and the most popular risotto dishes include butter, onion, white wine and parmesan.
Cooked just like a pizza, except for one small variation. It’s folded into a giant pasty-like shape before it’s cooked in the oven. It comes from Naples and is sometimes described as a turnover, for obvious reasons.
The lovely name of this coffee-flavoured dish actually means ‘cheer me up’ in Italian. It layers coffee-dipped ladyfingers (savoiardi) with a mixture of whipped eggs, mascarpone and sugar and topped with cocoa.
American cuisine is so ubiquitous around the world, thanks to the likes of chain restaurants such as McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Wendy’s, Five Guys, Dunkin’ (formerly Dunkin’ Donuts), Dairy Queen and Krispy Kreme, that we naturally tend to think of it as global cuisine.
Here are some of the most popular American dishes:
A sandwich that layers up a minced beef patty with salad leaves, tomatoes, cheese, bacon and all manner of other ingredients (there’s a real ‘as you like it’ culture with burgers), the hamburger finds its roots in Germany where frikadeller (meat patties) were eaten between sandwich bread en route to America by German emigrants. It’s now the most popular food in the world.
Hotdogs (or hot dogs)
The hotdog is a grilled or steamed sausage (frankfurter or wiener, generally) served in a split bun and topped traditionally with ketchup, mustard and either a pickle (such as sauerkraut) or fried onions. There are many, many variations on these toppings, such is the richness of American cuisine. The most famous hotdog maker in America is Nathan’s who host the world-famous hot dog eating competition.
Texas BBQ (or barbecue or barbeque)
Beef brisket, pork ribs and sausage are the most popular meats used in Texas BBQ cooking. There are different styles of barbecuing all over Texas, from the East Texas style where the meat is slow-cooked until it falls off the bone to the South Texas style, which marinates the meat in a thick molasses-based sauce to keep it moist during cooking.
Key Lime Pie
The official state pie of Florida, this cheesecake-like tart has a biscuit base and a thick, sweet, lime-infused custard topping.
Deep frying chicken was a tradition imported from Scotland, but it was Kentucky Fried Chicken (now KFC) founder Colonel Sanders who made it famous, not just in America but all over the world, when he breaded the chicken with a secret combination of spices and pressure-fried it.
Biscuits and Gravy
These are not biscuits in the English sense (Americans call them cookies), but more like savoury scones made with lard and buttermilk and served with a thick, white sausage gravy. It’s a traditional breakfast dish in the South and is very, very rich.
Mexican food is one of the most popular types of food in Britain. It came to the culture relatively late (because there aren’t many Mexican people in Britain) and via America. So you tend to find that Britain has largely adopted the Tex-Mex style of cooking, rather than traditional Mexican food. But the more sophisticated we become due to increased exposure via global travel, television and the internet, the greater our love for Mexican food is becoming.
Here are some typical Mexican dishes found in British restaurants, supermarkets and pubs:
Chilli Con Carne
Literally chilli with meat. It also includes sieved tomatoes, onion, garlic, a pinch of cumin, cinnamon and oregano, coffee, chocolate and pinto beans. It is spicy, rich, filling and delicious.
Burrito translates as ‘little donkey’ from Spanish (donkey is ‘burro’). That’s because of the burrito’s short, squat appearance. It is a corn or flour tortilla stuffed with rice, beans, salsa, meat, cheese, lettuce and sour cream, all rolled up and eaten out of the hand.
A corn tortilla rolled around a filling, much like a burrito, then baked in the oven and smothered in a savoury sauce.
Soft corn tortillas are filled with cheese (sometimes meat and spices too) and then cooked on a griddle. Quesadillas are one of the most popular dishes on the Mexican menu.
Made famous worldwide by the American restaurant chain Taco Bell, tacos are small, palm-sized corn tortillas filled with all manner of ingredients from pork, chicken and seafood to beans, vegetables and cheese.
Often shortened to just guac in America, this avocado-based dip adds salt, lime juice, coriander leaf and jalapeños for spice, zingy goodness.
Types of diet
Humans have evolved naturally to become omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and animals. Yet evolution isn’t the only factor affecting the way we consume food and drink.
Today, there are all kinds of diets that people adhere to, based on health, religion, politics and all sorts of other reasons, such as:
The most common diet on the planet, an omnivorous diet means you choose to enjoy meat, fish and plant-based foods.
It is very rare to find human carnivores – almost every one of us eats some kind of plant-based food at some point in life. A carnivorous diet would purely consist of meat, eggs and dairy in addition to water. Imagine that.
Eating a plant-based diet means that you primarily consume fruit, vegetables and other non-meat, non-fish and non-dairy food items. It is generally undertaken for health reasons, rather than political ones, and people who eat a plant-based diet tend to do so in order to maintain better health.
Maintaining a pescatarian diet means cutting all meat out of the diet but still allowing yourself to eat fish and seafood. Pescatarians will, like vegetarians, also tend to eat eggs and dairy to varying degrees.
A pollotarian is someone who cuts red meat out of their diet and, as a result, ‘only eats chicken.’ In practice, this might include more white meats, such as rabbit and turkey, and will probably also mean consuming fish and seafood.
A vegetarian diet cuts out all meat and fish from the diet. Vegetarians will still eat eggs and dairy products to varying degrees. Some self-identified vegetarians might also consume (food and medical) products that contain animal products. A vegetarian who eats eggs but no milk products is called an ovo-vegetarian. A vegetarian who consumes dairy products but no eggs is called a lacto-vegetarian. A vegetarian who consumes both is sometimes called a lacto-ovo-vegetarian.
This could also be called an herbivorous diet, though vegans aren’t technically herbivores (as humans are an omnivorous species). A vegan diet means consuming no animal products whatsoever, including animal biproducts, such as eggs, milk and honey. In seeking to supplement nutrients normally found in animal products, many vegans become very creative cooks and diners. There is also a sub-set of dietary veganism called fruitarianism. A fruitarian subsists on a diet of 75% or more fruit. This latter diet is not supported by scientific research as being a healthy diet and fruitarians risk nutritional deficiency.
Person one: “I’m on the seafood diet.”
Person two: “What’s that then?”
Person one: “When I see food, I eat it.”
Most of us nowadays don’t produce our own food but buy it from branded companies who, themselves, source it from factory farm producers.
These are the UK’s most popular food and snack brands:
- McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Digestives
- Kit Kat
- Heinz Tomato Ketchup
- Cathedral City
- Birds Eye
- Heinz Beans
- McVitie’s HobNobs Milk Chocolate
- McVitie’s Original Digestive
- Walkers Cheese and Onion
- Kettle Chips
- Hula Hoops
- Walkers Ready Salted
- Mr Kipling
- Jacob’s Biscuits for Cheese
- Ben & Jerry’s
- McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Caramel Digestives
- Mini Cheddars
- Cadbury Milk Chocolate Mini Rolls
- Tic Tac
- Tunnocks Caramel Wafers
- Jacob’s Cream Cracker
- Walkers Shortbread Assortment
- Walkers Highlanders Shortbread
- McVitie’s Cheddars Cheese Biscuits
- Uncle Ben’s
- McVitie’s Rich Tea Biscuits
- McVitie’s Dark Chocolate Digestives
- Cadbury Milk Chocolate Rich Tea
- Walkers Quavers Cheese
- Kettle Chips Lightly Salted
- Wagon Wheels
- Victoria Biscuit Selection
- HP Sauce
- McVitie’s Ginger Nuts
- Walkers Pure Butter Shortbread Fingers
- Jacob’s Club Orange Bars
- Pringles Sour Cream Onion
- Blue Riband
- Wotsits Really Cheesy
- Cadbury Time Out
- Bahlsen Leibniz Milk Chocolate Biscuits
- TUC Cheese Cracker
- Walkers Salt and Vinegar
- Walkers Baked Ready Salted
- Jacob’s Cheddars
- McVitie’s HobNobs Dark Chocolate
- Heinz Seriously Good Mayonnaise
- Malted Milk Biscuits
- KP Dry Roasted Peanuts
- Walkers Salt ‘n’ Shake Crisps
- Golden Wonder
- Walkers Shortbread Rounds
- McCoy’s Cheddar and Onion
A food allergy is the result of an immune system abnormality and may cause mild or severe symptoms ranging from mild itching to death. It is not the same as food poisoning, which is caused by food that has been bacterially contaminated, usually due to the food being rotten or kept in an unhygienic environment.
Common food allergy symptoms include:
- Swelling of the tongue
- Urticaria (Hives)
- Breathing problems
- Low blood pressure
When food allergy symptoms become severe, this is known as anaphylaxis. The most common foods to which people demonstrate allergic reactions are cow’s milk, peanuts, eggs, shellfish, tree nuts, fish, soya beans, rice, wheat and various fruits.
Some theorists believe that early exposure to some allergens in childhood may prevent against later becoming allergic. It is very important that people who are allergic to certain foods, however, manage their diet appropriately and, if they are severely allergic, always carry an adrenaline pen with them.
Restaurants, pubs, bars, supermarkets and all other sources of food production must clearly label their foods if they contain allergens, by law.
A drink (also known as a beverage) is a liquid made or intended for consumption.
The primary function of a drink is to quench the thirst and prevent the body from becoming dehydrated.
However, drinking (tea, wine, beer, coffee, etc.) also plays a hugely important social role in all human societies as a point of social bonding and ritualised behaviour (from putting on the morning coffee, to elaborate Chinese tea ceremonies).
Why do we need to drink?
When our bodies lose water (i.e. become dehydrated), it tells our brain – the hypothalamus, specifically – that we are thirsty. This craving for liquid gives us an instinctive need to consume fluids.
Electrolytes are substances formed when salt is placed into a solvent, such as water, that produce a solution that conducts electricity through the body. We need electrolytes to carry signals from our brain to the various parts of our bodies to keep them functioning normally. So that’s why we need to drink!
How are drinks produced?
Water as it falls from the sky and into our lakes, ponds, rivers, seas and other pools is generally not suitable for human consumption as it may be contaminated. So, to make drinks, we undertake different methods of preparing our liquids to make them suitable to be consumed by people. Here are those methods:
The main ingredient in almost every single drink we consume is water. Before it can be used, though, it has to be purified. We can filter it or chlorinate it to achieve this. Safe water supplies are essential to maintaining a healthy population.
Heating a liquid for a certain length of time and then cooling it immediately is what’s known as pasteurisation. Doing this slows down the growth of microorganisms within the liquid so that it takes longer to spoil. Milk, for instance, is generally pasteurised to get rid of pathogenic bacteria and make it safe for people to drink.
Extracting juice from not just fruits but vegetables, too, can be done in a number of different ways. Crushing and pressing are the most common forms. And it’s not just soft drinks that are produced via juicing. Think about wine and cider. Both of these fermented drinks are produced via crushing and pressing fruit.
Your morning cup of tea or coffee (if it’s from an Italian press) is an infusion. It basically means dropping a material into water and letting the flavours seep out into that water and flavour it. It’s a simple way to make water that bit more exciting!
Percolation is when you make a solvent pass through a permeable substance so that it extracts that substance’s soluble constituents. In the case of coffee, for instance, it’s when the steam from boiling water hits the roof of the percolator, turns back into water and passes through the coffee, taking the coffee beans’ soluble parts with it into the coffee pot. Clever, eh?
Fizzy pop, anyone? Fizzy lager or sparkling water, even? Carbonating liquids basically means dissolving carbon dioxide into them so that they become bubbly. It’s a sensation thing and it makes our drinks all the more exciting to the tongue.
Basically, the fermentation process means converting sugar to alcohol and it’s been part of human culture since the Neolithic age. Winemaking, for instance, combines yeast and grape juice in an anaerobic (i.e. low oxygen) environment. Brewing beer combines water, malt (heat dried cereal – to encourages germination – that’s then been soaked again to create sugars), yeast and hops. The process is called mashing.
Distillation is a way of separating certain components, based on the volatility of certain parts of a boiling liquid. Whisky is produced using this method, as are rum and other spirits. It basically removes diluting components, such as water, to increase the proportion of alcohol in the drink. In general, a drink is considered a spirit (or liquor in America) if it has no added sugar and is of at least 20% ABV, though whiskey, rum, vodka and gin tend to be over 30% ABV.
An alcoholic drink with at least two ingredients is known as a cocktail. Only one of the ingredients must be alcoholic for it to be considered a true cocktail and drinks without an alcoholic ingredient would be considered a mocktail. Additional ingredients in cocktails might be anything from another alcoholic element or honey, milk, fizzy pop (soda) or even herbs!
An alcoholic drink (also known as an alcoholic beverage) is a drink that contains ethanol, the alcohol produced via the process of fermenting cereal, fruit or other sugar sources. Alcohol has played an important part in the social lives of humans since the earliest civilisations, as well as forming a part of lots of our cultural and religious ritualistic activities, in addition.
When we drink alcohol in low quantities, it causes euphoria and increases sociability, which is why we have built parts of our social lives around enjoying an alcoholic drink together. When we drink it in higher quantities, it causes negative side effects such as drunkenness, stupor and unconsciousness, which is why it is important not to abuse alcohol.
For a comprehensive list of types alcoholic drinks, see our article on pubs. But here is a list of some of the biggest alcoholic drinks companies in the world:
- Anheuser-Busch InBev
- Heineken Holding
- Asahi Group Holdings
- Kirin Holdings
- Suntory Holdings
- Kweichow Moutai
- Pernod Ricard
- Molson Coors Brewing
- Thai Beverage
- Constellation Brands
- Wuliangye Yibin
- Jiangsu Yanghe Brewery
You probably haven’t heard of quite a few of those alcoholic drinks producers, but they produce some of the world’s most popular alcoholic beverages. For a list you’re more likely to feel familiar with, here’s a list of the most popular alcohol brands in the UK:
- Jack Daniel’s
- Southern Comfort
- The Famous Grouse
- Captain Morgan
- Echo Falls
- Moet & Chandon
- Bombay Sapphire
- Blossom Hill
- Jacob’s Creek
- Dom Pérignon
- Johnnie Walker
- Grey Goose
- Tia Maria
- [yellow tail]
- Disaronno Amaretto
- Morgan’s Spiced
- Jim Beam
- Cockburn’s Port
- Sipsmith Gin
- Glen Moray
- Martini Asti
- Casillero del Diablo
- Grand Marnier
- Edinburgh Gin
- Veuve Clicquot
- Stone’s Ginger Wine
- Teacher’s Highland Cream
- Plymouth Gin
- Vladivar Vodka
- Havana Club
- Stowford press
- The Glenlivet
- Whyte and Mackay
- Napoleon Brandy
- Tesco London Dry Gin
- Isle of Jura
- Rémy Martin
- Champagne Krug
- Taylor’s Port
- The Botanist Gin
- Chivas Regal
- Three Barrels
- Carribean Twist
- Laithwaites Wine
- Wolf Blass
- Glen’s Vodka
- Campo Viejo
- Barefoot Wine
- Pernod Ricard
- Blue Nun
- Mount Gay
A soft drink, pop or soda pop is a drink – generally carbonated (i.e. gassy or fizzy), though not always – that contains a sweetener of some kind and a flavouring that’s either natural or artificial. In the UK, we tend to sweeten our soft drinks with sugar, whereas in America, they tend to use high fructose corn syrup. Some soft drinks – particularly so-called diet drinks or zero-sugar drinks, use sugar substitutes, such as aspartame.
We call them soft drinks, because they do not contain any alcohol (which are sometimes referred to as ‘hard drink’). Some soft drinks may contain a tiny bit of alcohol, but no more than 0.5% of the total volume. Some people consider sparkling water to be a soft drink, but it doesn’t technically fit the definition, unless it has an additional flavour element.
Here are some alternate names for soft drinks:
- Cold drink
- Fizzy pop
- Fizzy juice
- Soda pop
- Coke (used as a catch-all term, as well as to describe the branded cola)
- Non-alcoholic beverage
- Alcohol-free drink
- Carbonated drink
You find soft drinks in glass and plastic bottles and in cans, generally, though in pubs they will be served from fountain machines and taps. Pop can be bought directly from refrigerated vending machines and you’ll find it in the fridges of your local shop where it is kept cold for immediate refreshment.
The history of soft drinks
Soft drinks were initially produced as tonics by pseudo medical professionals who proposed that they improved health, but they quickly became used recreationally because people enjoyed them (and their so-called health benefits were quickly quashed by medical science).
By the 1840s, there were over 50 manufacturers of soft drinks in the world and fizzy lemonade was one of the first to really take off on British refreshment stalls. By 1845, R. White’s Lemonade went on sale for the first time in the UK. Mixer drinks like tonic water or Schweppes Ginger Ale became popular in the second half of the 19th Century.
Soda fountains first found their popularity in the USA in 1806 when Yale professor Benjamin Silliman sold soda waters in New Haven, Connecticut from a fountain. By the early 20th Century, bottled pop sales increased exponentially and then, by the second half of the 20th Century, canned sodas grew massively in popularity.
Today, we drink massive amounts of soft drinks the world over, with per capita consumption varying from country to country.
Here are some of the most popular soft drinks brands:
- Coca Cola
- Red Bull
- Irn Bru
- Dr Pepper
- 7 Up
- Lucozade Sport
- Euro Shopper Energy
- Old Jamaica Ginger Beer
- R. White’s Lemonade
- Red Kola
- Rola Cola
- Minute Maid
This is probably making you feel very thirsty. You should probably go and see which drinks you have in the fridge. If you don’t have any, you have a couple of choices: pop down to your local pub and grab yourself a snifter (or, if it’s not cocktail hour yet, a half a Coke) or get yourself a glass of corporation pop (i.e. tap water).