Where British Sunday Lunches Originated From

I love learning about cultural food traditions and history. Sunday lunch or roast is a British meal that revolves around roast beef that includes a series of other tasty products and sauces to celebrate Sundays with the family. Traditionally, Sunday Lunches start around 3 pm, although many now eat Sunday meals around dinner time. The preparation of the Sunday roast is hard work and takes a long time. 

Here are the basics of this iconic British meal:

Roast beef and meat consumption in Britain

The ritual spread in the late 15th century when copious amounts of meat consumption were typical among the royal guards, whose nickname became “Beefeaters”. The Sunday roast beef tradition started with the royal guards cooking meat in the morning before going to Mass. 

Vegetables and Yorkshire pudding

On the plate, along with the meat, are roasted vegetables – carrots, potatoes, peas, broccoli, and much more. And then the ever present Yorkshire pudding. Yorkshire pudding was baked batter with a shape similar to muffins, originally baked sitting under the roast beef to collect the meat drippings. Yorkshire pudding doesn’t get cooked under the meat anymore, but gravy is made with aromatic herbs and spices and a bit of flour for thickness.

Sunday roast desserts: trifle and crumble

For dessert, you usually had two options to choose from: trifle or crumble. Trifle is a delicious baroque-Esque pudding. It is made up of several layers of sponge cake that were soaked in fortified wines, whipped cream, pastry cream, and some fruit. Trifle was invented to use leftover sponge cake and almost spoiled fruit. On the other hand, Crumble is a flaky dough made with flour, sugar, and butter. It was crushed between fingertips to obtain a crumbly consistency and then used to cover pan-cooked fruit with sweet spices, sugar, and butter. 

It is said that Crumble was born because of the rationing of food resources during the first World War; because of the absence of flour and butter, the British replaced pie crusts with “shortcrust” crumbs. Crumble can be prepared with any fruit, though the traditional recipe uses apples or rhubarb. 

Where can you enjoy a Sunday Lunch

If you ever find yourself in Britain, know that there is no better place than a classic British pub to taste proper Sunday roast. But, if you desire a Sunday lunch in your hometown, either visit a steak restaurant or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try to make it yourself.

In Closing

The British love beef, particularly for a Sunday lunch; it is a part of the national identity. They ate roast beef so often that the French started calling English soldiers “rosbifs”  during the 18th century. Just as it was a hundred years ago, the Sunday roast is still a tradition today. No longer just on the family tables, it has now spread to pubs. 

The tradition of the Sunday roast as a large, sit-down meal with the family is certainly not as regular as it used to be. And the best part is you don’t have to be British to join in! Many countries around the world enjoy this meal. So, it might just be time to turn off the mobiles and reconnect with your family over a juicy roast – whether it’s on a Sunday or not!

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3 Responses to Where British Sunday Lunches Originated From

  1. BERNADETTE says:

    Thanks for the interesting post. Now I know where the term Beefeater came from.

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