As much as the Brit’s make fun of America for our over indulgence in food and the super-sized meals that we eat on a regular basis, they secretly LOVE our food. All one has to do is glance around at their service stations (rest stops with food) and see that they are full of American joints. The menus may differ slightly, but a burger is a burger no matter what side of the pond it’s made on. I have compiled a list of the top five most common fast food joints I see in England. This list purposely excludes pizza restaurants because that is a whole separate conversation.
1. Surprise, surprise, the most common American place I see is McDonalds. The Brit’s may mock the big portions, but they sure do gobble up the fries. It is hugely popular among teens, kids, university students and adults. The menu is pretty much identical, serving your basic McNuggets, burgers, fries, pies, and the token salad. There is however some variation in portions. A large Coke in England is the size of a regular in America. The children size fry in the US is actually a small in Britain. So, I guess I have to give them credit for indulging in our delicious delicacies, but doing so in a more reasonable way.
2. The shocking second most common US place I see is actually Starbucks. They are everywhere!! Not that I can blame the UK for loving it, having tried tons of coffee and hot chocolate all over England, I still think Starbucks is the best. They serve pumpkin spice lattes for a shorter time than in America. The cup sizes are all the same. And overall, I would say it is like a little slice of Seattle (where Starbucks was founded) dropped into the middle of quaint ole’ Britain.
3. KFC also has a big market over here. If there is a McDonalds on one street, you can be sure that a KFC is within a few blocks. They don’t serve quite the same food, England experiments a bit more I would say with seasonings. They do not offer mac and cheese as a side option. But the original recipe wings are still the mouthwatering goodness we all adore.
4. Britain likes to think of itself as a healthy country, so it isn’t a surprise that Subway has done well over here. There aren’t many sandwich shops that let you build your own, so Subway pretty much has that market sector cornered. It has most of the same subs, but also offers ‘chicken tikka’ as a meat option. Which is a British Indian food usually accompanied with rice as a curry. However, Subway puts it on bread. I myself only occasionally visit this shop. I find that the pre-made sandwiches and baguettes I can get from British places are cheaper, and usually more to my palate. But it is reassuring to pass by a Subway and get that waft of cooking bread smell that I associate with home.
5. Picking my fifth restaurant for the list was a challenge. England has a lot of our food. But I decided to go with Five Guys.It is a bit more of an upscale fast food place, but widely popular. I believe it is because of the Cajun fries served there (and the free peanuts). Cajun seasoning is something exclusively seen in America, especially the south. So the Brit’s flock to Five Guys for a taste of it. The burgers are also a higher standard than you can get from a lot of pubs (in my opinion). Never burnt, not too greasy, and with unlimited toppings. Plus it has the drink machines that offer fifty different soda’s for people to try (and free refills to boot!).
If you ever visit the UK and find that the bangers and mash, fish n’ chips, black pudding and English breakfasts aren’t too your taste, rest assured that you can easily find any one of the American businesses serving the food you are familiar and comfortable with.