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Are Brits really bland when it comes to taste?

In the past six months, over 29,000 people from 30 European countries took part in the Friends of Glass online quiz to find out how our taste preferences are affected by where we live. The final results revealed some interesting results and surprising connections between the British and the French.


Despite their fondness of foie gras, brie and garlic, it appears French taste buds could be dictated by their history of fine patisserie, as ‘sweet’ is their preferred taste. The British, on the other hand, remain at one with bland food, which remains a bit of a mystery considering that the nation’s favourite dish is curry.



– Brits have been smoking foods since the Danes and the Vikings brought us smoking techniques. Kippers and York Ham are classic examples of smoking today and both are anything but bland.

– Spices have been a part of British cuisine for many years. Britain’s colonial days in India have led to the nation’s obsession with curry and spicy sauces, which are now as popular as traditional dishes such as Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding.

– In the middle ages, wealthy people were able to cook with spices and dried fruits from as far away as Asia.

– The invasion of Franco-Normans brought numerous spices to our isle including mace, nutmeg, pepper and ginger.

– If looking for the origin of ‘bland’, then perhaps the start of bland can be found during the Second World War, when rationing led to food of the most basic ingredients – meat, sugar, butter and eggs – and this continued into the 1950s. It is perhaps from these years that England has not only developed a reputation for poor quality food but may also have led to the findings of today’s quiz of the British Bland taste bud…the jury, however, is still out!


According to other results of the quiz, when participants were asked a multiple choice question of what they would be if they were a food, the British often chose the classic British dish, Sausages and Mash, whilst the French opted for a down-to-earth pasta. Tea remains a staple at the breakfast table in England unlike in France, where residents usually go for coffee. When asked about buying food in the supermarket, the French are most likely to make a trip for olive oil whereas the British are most likely to buy tomato ketchup.

One thing the French and British do have in common is that they both look out for fresh and natural ingredients in the supermarket.

These findings about French and British tastes are part of a bigger pan-European project, taking place in several European countries, culminating in the production of a ‘Taste Map’ – a fascinating picture of the taste preferences across Europe. The map is available to view at


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