A Cuppa’ Cultural Differences – Taking English Tea and Toast

The East Bay Eats

I’ve just discovered that the way you drink tea in England reveals more about you than you ever imagined. With all eyes on the London Olympics this week, I coincidentally happen to be reading Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour by social anthropologist Kate Fox.

It’s an entertaining investigation of scads of unspoken behavioral rules in English culture, including the functions of weather-speak, importance of fair play and “the drama of queuing.” Naturally, I went straight to the chapter on food rules and table manners. As a tea-drinker in our more egalitarian America society, I never thought of my tea taking habits as projecting traits that could be judged by those employing class-conscious radar. (The only judgments I am aware of here in the Bay Area are from inveterate coffee addicts). I was fascinated to read Fox’s accounts of the hidden rules for eating the most mundane…

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