Tips for Americans visiting England: Eating out

Some of you may be aware that my sweetheart hails from Mississippi. Over the years, we’ve compiled some tips to help ease the way of people from the Southern States when travelling to the North of England. It seems only right to pass a few of them on.

A Few Warnings

  • Gravy will be brown and we don’t put it on our biscuits.
  • You want sweet tea? It’s not good for you, you know! Drink some before you set out.
  • We strictly ration ice cubes and condiments in public places. Expect the former to be offered one cube at a time and the latter to be presented in tiny sachets. You may like to buy a bottle of ketchup as soon as you arrive and keep it with you at all times.
  • British people only eat corn three ways: sweet corn, cornflakes and popcorn. Don’t expect grits, your type of biscuits or cornbread.
  • If you want to alarm the wait staff, assure them you only ate yours to be polite.


We tend not to offer a choice of sides with entrees. We decide what is appropriate and provide that. Chili comes with rice. It’s chili and rice, ok? You want macaroni and turnip greens with a steak? We don’t think so! Steak comes with peas in England. (Only kidding – I’m not trying to destroy the tourist industry with one post: you’ll get Irish potato, onion rings, half a tomato and a rather large mushroom too). And don’t expect fish and chips to be served with broccoli, okra, corn or slaw: brace yourself for mushy peas and malt vinegar.

 Handy UK / US food translations

Food translations UK to US

Custard is Crème Anglaise; pudding can be any sweet dessert (and quite a few savoury dishes too); and semolina is a bit like grits – but don’t try it!

Where to Eat in England

If you can’t find Thai food, BBQ or Mexican in the podunk town you find yourself staying in for the night – the one with no coffee shop or gas station but with three pubs on the same corner opposite a church that dates back to the 13th Century – ask for directions to the local Indian restaurant and go for a curry. It’ll be great. Just don’t start off with the vindaloo.

If you have any observations or handy tips of your own to share, please feel free!

30 Replies to “Tips for Americans visiting England: Eating out”

  1. So right about the bread – my Texan husband is amazed that within a few miles a flattish round lump of bread goes from being called barmcake to bap, bun or teacake (not currant) around northern parts. And then there’s pickle. Cilantro. Crescent rolls. Shrimp…

    1. Americans thinking of ordering shrimps would be wise to take a look at what they’re going to get first!

      Bread is a story in itself – I often hear cob or roll & I’m sure there are lots more. I’ve never heard of crescent rolls – are they croissants?

      1. Yup – croissants a la Texas – that’s what I heard one of my US in-laws call them. And it took me years to work out that cilantro was fresh coriander leaves – which I hate so good job I’d been avoiding them!

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