Friday, 26 September 2014

Observations From Foreign Climes

Cultural Invasions : The British tourists refusal to countenance eating 'foreign food's' while visiting those countries, is slowly changing those same lands. For instance vast chunks of the Mediterranean hinterlands, Islands and the Coastal Strips, are now effectively colonised by the working class British holiday maker.

In all but the most select of resorts or upper-class hotel areas, every second bar and restaurant has 'fish and chip's on the chalk board menus, and even more offer 'All Day British Breakfasts' with 'English Bacon' (as opposed to the Danish bacon 'luxury' variety item which was the case 30 years ago). The rest of the food being offered is equally predictable ... Burgers and Pizza etc, but also now increasingly 'Chinese Buffets' and 'British Curry' houses are springing up.

Of course this all stems from the fact noted earlier, that the British working class generally practice food conservatism (See the arrival of Italian food in the 1960's UK), which means for example that Paella is hardly ever tried in Spain, or Moussaka in Greece. So even though many Brits will eat 'an Indian or a Chinkie' while in Europe, all actual continental food is avoided. I will admit at this point, that I personally don't consider aubergines a foodstuff, full stop, and certainly not as an acceptable vegetable to accompany a meal!!

Another 30 or 40 years of this, and we may have left a permanent mark on many of these societies. I was struck by this fact, not just because of the 'British food' issue (which occurred to me while I was trying to find something different on a Mediterranean Island resort - still manageable, but either with a bit of effort, or with a price premium to pay), but also by the ubiquitous presence and influence of Sky Sports TV, which is almost a must for many bars. This has for example introduced the English term 'man of the match' to the Spanish main written press (I read it in a Spanish sports report). I am sure that there must be some concerns in many of these countries (to a greater or lesser degree, depending upon tourist penetration).

The British Are The Cultural Borg Of Europe

However we British holiday in such vast numbers in the Mediterranean, Aegean and increasingly the Black Sea, albeit generally in the lower end of the tourist market, that all the countries we visit, have to either adapt to our food fads and TV requirements in the resorts, or risk losing the mass tourist trade. So while they may detest our lack of manners, or our not feigning any interest in their languages and cultures, they have still been culturally assimilated to some degree by providing for our needs.

For instance I have noted there has also been an increasing number of non British girls appearing with body tattoos. This was not a native trend in southern Europe until very recently, but with virtually all British girls under 30 (and many much older ladies as well), seemingly sporting them these days, it seems that many daring (or daft) local girls have now picked up the fashion from them, and so Spaniards, and Italians as well as Germans and Nordic girls also displayed them.

Whether this can simply be seen as a part of globalisation, or just a peculiarity of British spending power combining with their innate resistance to 'European ways', I can't say.

But the other wandering European tourists such as the Scandinavians, Germans or the Dutch have had no such impact on the Mediterranean area. There are no resorts that I have come across in Europe where the Brits have to bend to another's ways ..... so for example on the recent resort I was on there was also a strong local food presence but only in the 'Old Town' (a small taxi ride away), where historic buildings added the premium value required for those establishments to compete with the 'pub' in the lower end tourist hotel areas where the Brits predominate. There were Germans, Dutch and Scandinavians in the area, but largely they were quiet, or went to the 'old town' .... but even there it was British cultural expectations that dominated.
I of course found a Swedish restaurant, where the 50 or so Swedes, Norwegians and Danes ate and danced to Swedish cabaret most nights, and after an 'Old Town' night, generally made that my main point of call for food ... Viva ABBA is all I can say, or would have said, but guess what? Yes the Nordics sing and dance much of the time in English ('Delilah' by Tom Jones is a particular favourite it seems), or many English songs in Swedish ( 'Delilah' by Tom Jones is still a popular song when sung in Swedish) ..... So it seems we did our cultural job on Scandinavia in the 1960's.

On a side note, foreign languages make for different beats to accommodate the requirements of the language cadence, so it can be entertaining to hear 'classics' in another language, which is maybe why despite it being an entirely Nordic audience (bar me), more than half the songs were in English ... Kinda a ghost in the machine so to speak.

Anyway getting back to topic,  we may have lost our physical empire, but our cultural conquests continue unimpeded. We are like the Borg ... "Resistance Is Futile. You Will Be Assimilated!"


  1. The Borg is a good simile as they too have a queen and they allow outsiders to wander around unimpeded until a threat is detected.

    1. Can't argue with that .... we are likely to discover how much of a threat outsiders can be over the next few years.


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