(Britain, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
- Location: Northern Europe
- Capital: London
- Language: English
- Population: 62,008,048
- Total Area: 243, 610 sq km
- Currency: Pound sterling
- Curious Alcohol Fact: While the British import 99% of the wine they sell, they brew 98% of their own beer.
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 13.37 liters
- The most popular drink: Beer
As an island, Britain has largely been safe from the invasions and cultural imperialism the rest of Europe has suffered over the last three hundred years. In short, they are one of the few European countries to have had luxury of molding their own identity. And few people would doubt that this sets them apart from mainland Europe. Everything it seems is different -British humor, British cooking, British weather, the British class system, British sports (who else in Europe plays cricket?)- and it is its difference, and the confidence it derives from being different, that makes it such an interesting place to visit.
Since the 1930s Britain has seen an influx of people from the old colonies- namely Indians, Jamaican, Nigerians and Pakistanis- and many did not find it easy to settle they have gone to shape Britain into the multi-cultural and more tolerant society it is today.
As someone brought up eating quality British food, I feel qualified to say that British cuisine is thoroughly underrated, and not least by the British themselves. I personally find myself asking why so many places serve such offal when I remember my grandmother serving the creamiest and most flavorful of Stilton and Cheddar cheeses and know from experience that the sausages in Britain, particularly in the north, compare more than favorably with their German and Czech counterparts. One reason is that chain pubs, such as Wetherspoons- now a dominant force in the British food industry- look not to produce quality, but large profit margins. If visitors are willing to look hard, however, they may be surprised just how good British food can be.
Every British pub it has its own unique character. No matter how much people try to modernize them, the Grand Union pub will always attract the people living on the Grand Union canal and the Angler will always display fishing memorabilia on its ceilings and walls. A chain pub once hired me as a barman to work at a local pub in Oxford they had just taken over. Their aim was to turn it into a family restaurant, but the locals were having none of it. As far as they were concerned, the pub belonged to them, not some cooperation. Within a few months, they had run the landlord out of town.
From its roots as a rowdy game played between villages to the first professional clubs, the British invented soccer. They also, it has to be said, did their best to ruin it. Throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s people, or hooligans, were using football to either express their far right politics or their love for violence, and sometimes both. After the Heysel disaster, where Liverpool fans charged and killed 39 Juventus supporters, UEFA banned British clubs from European competition and forced the British government to clean the game. The result was the Premier League; the richest and in many people’s eyes the, most exciting league in the world.
Story By World By Shotglass
©2013 World By Shotglass. All Rights Reserved
Special thanks to our contributors:
Simon Arms (Berlin, Germany) for story editing.