Family Dinner and Customs in Different Countries – Part 3 of 3: Birmingham, England

Street view of the city of Birmingham, England

Welcome to the final article of this three-part series. In the first two articles, I dove into the customs of Malta, Italy and Kaiserslautern, Germany. This article will explore dinner customs in Birmingham, England.

Customs at the dinner table

In England, the head of the table is considered a seat of high honor, and the individuals of greatest importance will be seated there first.

If the hosts are a couple, each person will sit on either side of the table. As for utensils, the English use the knife with the right hand and fork with the left. If you’re not eating, hands should be held in your lap. When passing food you do so to the left. Dinner is served between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

In restaurants, dinner is usually served around 8 p.m. Many restaurants will be the busiest at this time, so reservations may be something to consider. 


A typical dinner in England consists of “meat and two veg.” They like to put hot, brown gravy on their meat and sometimes the vegetables. Carrots, potatoes and brussel sprouts are a popular choice.

Family is important in England. Many people prefer to have smaller families because of higher mobility and less expenses. Because many families are smaller, this gives each the opportunity to become very close with each other. Many want to travel and enjoy life without kids, so the age the English typically start families is higher than in other countries.

There are equal rights for all genders in England, so there are no assumed roles for men and women, although many women choose to work part-time or not at all.

Traditional English foods

To learn about some traditional English dishes, watch this video from 1:20 to 6:12.

Fish and chips, bangers and mash and shepherd’s pie are frequent dishes served in England. English cuisine holds the traditions and cooking styles of England, but also shares a wide range from British culture.

Now taking a look at Birmingham, England specifically: In Birmingham you will most likely find a dish called groaty pudding, a meat stew made using soaked groats, leeks and onions in a beef stock. This dish is popular in the winter as a warm meal.

Another authentic dish is Birmingham balti. Locals would say this Pakistani-style dish was invented in Birmingham but the origins are highly debated. The dish is a lamb or goat meat curry served in a balti bowl.

By ayes – originally posted to Flickr as Balti gosht, CC BY 2.0

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