hidden europe 38

England and Europe

by hidden europe


Given our interests, you might have thought that we'd have pounced on The Smell of the Continent the moment it was published in 2009. The book is a witty and well-researched account of how the English discovered continental Europe in a decades following the Napoleonic Wars.

You probably never knew that George Eliot was so keen on her mutton. Nor did we, until we followed the Eliot trail to Ilfracombe (see previous article). And Eliot’s praise of English meat hits at the heart of a key historic difference between the English and their continental neighbours. In nineteenth-century France, hoteliers often referred to their English guests as les rosbifs, alluding to the English tendency to require a decent helping of meat to be served with every meal.

English travel habits in Europe, and the wider issue of English attitudes to the continent, are the focus of one of the most interesting books we have read this year.

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