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No food experiments for Brits!

Brits love experimenting with food, but on a daily basis, prefer only the tried and tested.
ANI | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON MAR 28, 2007 04:12 PM IST

All of us may love to experiment with food but on a daily basis it seems most of us have a taste for the tried and tested dishes.

Research highlights our lack of imagination in the kitchen, with few of us bothering to cook new dishes, and most living on around just four regular dishes. The average menu in British households extends to 4.1 dishes, with Scotland's average even lower at 4.0 meals.

The survey of 2,000 adults shows that spaghetti bolognese, stew, sausages and mash and fish and chips are our regular standbys, with other favourites including chilli con carne and chicken tikka masala.

Britain's most popular dish, spaghetti bolognese, is cooked at least once a week by some 6.1 million people in the UK, with 670 million portions served up each year, reports the Scotsman.

The most common excuse for our lack of imagination is time pressures, with almost 40 per cent claiming they are too busy to cook. However, one in five admits that they just do not have the confidence to inject more life into mealtimes.

"We all tell ourselves we're too busy to cook and to experiment, but feeding yourself shouldn't be a chore," said Michelin-starred Edinburgh chef Tom Kitchin.

"Cooking is supposed to be fun, and it can be very relaxing to cook a meal at the end of a busy day. Many people today either don't have the skills to cook a range of dishes or are afraid to experiment," he said.

People aged between 45 and 54 have the smallest range of meals, cooking just 3.2 dishes regularly, followed closely by 18 to 24-year-olds. Those aged 25 to 34 are the most adventurous, cooking a still miserly average of 4.9 dishes.

Men lose out to women when it comes to culinary range, cooking just 3.5 dishes regularly compared to women's 4.5 favourites.

Emma Conroy, a nutritionist at private health consultancy Edinburgh Nutrition, said many of her clients complained they were too busy to vary their diets. She said: "We have more access to foods than ever, yet we are not particularly adventurous.

"People simply need to accept that eating is an important part of our day and we need to dedicate more time and energy to it.

"We don't have to ditch our favourite meals, but we should try to liven them up a bit," she added.

"If you're making a stew for instance, you could try throwing in some more veg, and even a kidney or two. Spag-bol should be made with plenty of chunky vegetables and the best quality meat you can afford."

Britain's most popular dishes are disappointingly unhealthy, but Mr Kitchin explains that by using fresh, high-quality ingredients we can still enjoy all our favourites without feeling guilty.

"There is a world of difference between a processed ready meal packed with salt and additives, and bangers and mash prepared with quality organic meat and fresh potatoes," he said.

"These meals can all be tasty and nutritious if we use fresh, quality ingredients, preferably sourced locally and in season."

The research, commissioned by Loyd Grossman Sauces, also shows that the popularity of traditional British dishes is on the wane.

Nearly a third of people said they cooked dishes such as shepherd's pie, hot pot and fish and chips less often than they did ten years ago.

Scotland is seeing the biggest decline in traditional food, with 39 per cent claiming they cook it less than they used to.

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