Food is very important to the travel experience, and everyone should sample Britain's diverse food culture while on a trip to London. There is nothing quite like a Bakewell Pudding, a Cornish Pasty, or a fry-up breakfast with Cumberland sausage, especially when you eat it in the region that invented them.
London restaurants serve food from every corner of the world, Tudor-beamed pubs feature menus from Dickens' day, sophisticated eateries offer cutting edge Modern British Cuisine - London has them all. Glittering windows piled with edible delights, the enticing doors of Fortnum and Mason lead to the finest, English-made chocolates, a multitude of teas in elegant wooden boxes, shining jars of honey and preserves from near and far. Harrods' display of fish and shellfish is a work of art, their multitude of hams and salamis combined with mouth-watering bakery offer the ultimate picnic. Selfridges Food Halls gleam with fresh, sparkling sights and flavors, gorgeous floral displays are almost eclipsed by beautiful pastries that promise to melt in your mouth. And a multitude of markets, many thriving since Roman times, such as Borough Market where farmers and growers from all over Britain sell their finest produce, the smell of freshly ground organic coffee mingles with barbecued chorizo and a fruit vendor sings high opera. Chinatown has its own scents and sights: Aladdin's caves piled with steamers and fresh oriental vegetables nestle beside restaurant windows displaying glistening rows of Peking ducks.
Tea and afternoon tea have played an important role in British culture over the years and still do today. Teatime is still a hallowed part of the day, with toasted crumpets honeycombed with sweet butter. The English afternoon tea ritual has been quietly brewing among London polite society. Perhaps it's an anti-Starbucks trend, but nevertheless, it is now ever so fashionable to take afternoon tea. So, what is afternoon tea, exactly? Well, it means real tea (English Breakfast, Ceylon, Indian, or Chinese -- and preferably loose leaf) brewed in a china pot, and usually served with china cups and saucers and silver spoons any time between 3 and 5:30 PM daily. In particularly grand places -- such as some bigger hotels -- there should be elegant finger foods on a three-tiered silver tea stand: bread and butter, and crustless cucumber, watercress, and egg sandwiches on the bottom; scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserve in the middle; and rich fruitcake and fancies on top. Dress is elegant casual in posh hotels, and conversation should by tradition avoid politics and religion. Many places which serve the high tea are members of the Tea Guild, which is part of the Tea Council.