The Association Between Beef and English Identity Throughout History

TLDR Throughout history, beef has been closely associated with English identity, with Tudor England consuming more beef than their European neighbors. This association continued into the 18th century, with the perception of the English as beef eaters and the establishment of clubs promoting the patriotic symbol of beef eating.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 The association between the English and beef is an old one, as seen in Shakespeare's Henry V and the perception of the English as beef eaters by the French.
04:45 In Tudor England, people ate more beef than their European neighbors, and over time, beef became cheaper and more readily available, leading to foreigners being astounded by the quantity and quality of meat consumed in England.
09:20 In Tudor England, the English were perceived as violent and gruff, while foreigners were astounded by the quantity and quality of meat consumed in England, particularly beef, which was associated with yeoman farmers and even the yeoman of the guard who were given a ration of beef every day, and the English preferred to roast their meat rather than fry or stew it like the Italians or French.
13:26 In 18th century England, roasting meat was a national custom and it was typically eaten with gravy and condiments like English mustard mixed with horseradish and vinegar, and puddings were eaten alongside the main course, which consisted of heavy dishes like roast beef and meat puddings.
17:44 French cooking in the 18th century, characterized by sophistication and order, influenced English cuisine and led to the adoption of French culinary practices such as dividing sweet and savory courses, cooking vegetables, and serving meat with rich sauces.
21:55 The perceived Europeanization of English customs in the 18th century, associated with the Whig Grandes and the Pelham family, led to a sense of corruption and a loss of touch with the common man, as well as a moral panic and hysteria about foreign ways, particularly French influence in cookery.
26:35 Actors and artists in the 18th century were champions of patriotic cookery and resisted foreign influence, particularly opera, which was seen as unnatural and unsuitable to the English climate.
31:30 The Sublime Society of Beef Stakes, a club established in 1735, was associated with actors and artists like Hogarth and Dr. Johnson, and promoted the association between liberty and beef eating as a patriotic symbol against Catholic France.
35:51 The association between beef eating and English identity became a caricature by the 1760s, with figures like John Bull representing the patriotic, beef-eating Englishman.
40:40 The association between beef eating and English identity has become outdated and old-fashioned, but it still lives on in certain places like the restaurant chain Hawksmoor and in the image of Ian Botham as a paradigmatic John Bull figure.
45:02 The association between beef and liberty in England has been lost, but it was once a powerful symbol of the country's identity.
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