From Fish And Chips To Mince Pies: Five 'British' Things That Were Never British to Begin With

As it's revealed four in 10 people believe multiculturalism has undermined British culture.

Four in 10 people believe multiculturalism has undermined British culture, according to research into attitudes to immigration.

The research – the largest ever public consultation on the issue – was conducted by think tank British Future and charity Hope Not Hate, who travelled more than 16,000 miles around the country to hear the views of nearly 20,000 people.

The National Conversation on Immigration found people in large cities were the most likely to be positive about immigration, but as the towns became smaller, the scores declined with, with people who live in rural areas being the least positive.

Nearly 60% believe the diversity brought by immigration has enriched British culture, but a large minority disagreed.

So those people might be surprised to learn that some of the most quintessentially ‘British’ institutions are not actually that British after all.

Here’s a look at five of them:

Fish and Chips

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Ask any tourist to the UK what the national dish is and they will inevitably say fish and chips. In fact, this Yorkshire chippy has become a must-visit for Chinese tourists visiting the historic city of York.

While it is not actually the national dish – that’s chicken tikka masala – the takeaway and pub favourite is at least British, right?

Well despite debates about who opened the first chippie – Jewish immigrant in East London or a Northerner in Lancashire – the idea of frying fish in batter comes from the Portuguese, while the chips are thought to be inspired by the Belgians.

Still, at least we had the genius idea to combine them.


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It’s rare to find a Brit who doesn’t drink at least one cuppa a day. It’s the perfect drink to have first thing in the morning, on work breaks, when visitors stop by and during any crisis. Not to mention with sandwiches and scones for afternoon tea.

However, English breakfast tea is of course imported and originates in China. It was first brought over in the 1610s, although it didn’t take off and become popular until the 1800s.

But adding milk is what sets us apart, as most other nations drink tea with slices of lemon, if at all.


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Brits have been going for a pint in their local pub after work, at the weekend or even on lunch breaks for hundreds of years.

But they originated from Roman times. When they built the road network, little inns opened along the routes so people could stop for refreshing beverages while on their journey.

Originally called Tabernae, the inns started selling food and wine as well as ale and after the Romans departed, alehouses began cropping up everywhere, not just near major roads.

Saint George

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England’s patron saint wasn’t actually born in the UK. He was, in fact, a Roman officer during the Third Century AD, when the Emperor Diocletian was in power. He was of Greek descent and was born in modern day Turkey, although had links to Syria and Palestine.

We’re also not the only country to claim Saint George as our own. He is also the patron saint of Bulgaria, Palestine, Ethiopia, Greece and Lithuania.

Mince Pies

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If you want to confuse an American tourist, offer them a mince pie. The sweet pie which is filled with a mixture of dried fruits and spices called “mincemeat” and traditionally served during the Christmas season, is popular in all English-speaking countries bar the USA.

A stalwart in British homes at Christmas, the pies actually came to Britain in the 13th century, when the crusaders returned from the Middle East, where combining fruit and spices is common.


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