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Lesson Transcript

Kellie: Hello! I’m Kellie, and welcome back to EnglishClass101.com.
Gina: Hi everyone, I’m Gina. This is Culture Class, Season 2, Lesson 25 - top 5 most influential thinkers in British food.
Kellie: So this is lesson 25…
Gina: We’ve reached the end?
Kellie: We’ve reached the end.
Gina: We need to make this a great lesson then, so we can finish the series with a bang.
Kellie: They’ve all been great lessons!
Gina: Of course!
Kellie: So this time, we’re talking about the top 5 most influential thinkers in British food.
Gina: These are the people that have changed things and made waves in British food. They’ve had long lasting effects on the industry that can be felt today.

Lesson focus

Kellie: We’ll begin, for the last time, with number 5 - Joseph Malin and John Lees.
Gina: We’re putting the two names together although they never actually worked together because they can both be credited with having the same influence. It’s debatable which of the two had the idea first so we’ll talk about both.
Kellie: Okay.
Gina: What is the most famous and most iconic British dish?
Kellie: Hmm, now there’s a question… but probably fish and chips, I suppose?
Gina: Yes, I think so too. The two gentlemen that we are talking about for number 5, can both be credited with the invention of fish and chips.
Kellie: That definitely is influential. How come it involves two people though?
Gina: Let me tell you the history. Joseph Malin was a 13 year old boy living in London. His family had been frying chips to sell to neighbours as an extra bit of income, and Malin had the idea of serving the chips with fish from a nearby fishmonger.
Kellie: And fish and chips were born?
Gina: Yes. He would sell fish and chips in the neighbourhood. Fish was popular as it was cheap and filling and chips were still a novelty then.
Kellie: What about John Lees?
Gina: Lees lived in Lancashire, in the North of England, so, far away from London. He began selling fish and chips from a wooden market hut and it soon became popular. Fish and chips were really the first fast food Britain saw.
Kellie: Sounds like it would have been the first takeaways too.
Gina: Yes, it was. Now, fish and chips are a big business with 10,500 shops in Britain and the industry is worth £650 million.
Kellie: Wow. Let’s move onto number 4 – Isabella Beeton.
Gina: Otherwise known as Mrs. Beeton. She married Samuel Beeton in July 1856 and he worked in the publishing trade. He published a magazine called The Queen and later The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine.
Kellie: He published women’s magazines.
Gina: Yes, he did. He asked Mrs. Beeton to write a column for the second of those two magazines and over 24 monthly instalments she explained how to run a home in Victorian England.
Kellie: What kind of things did she write about?
Gina: The main subject of interest, and the reason we’re including her, is she included a lot of recipes. When the 24 instalments were collected together for a book, 900 of the 1,112 pages were recipes.
Kellie: In essence she wrote a cookbook.
Gina: A cookbook that was quite different to the other cookbooks at the time. The format of it was very similar to the cookbooks you see today with ingredients and methods nicely formatted and easy to follow. It was a format that was copied extensively.
Kellie: They still publish the book today, don’t they? I’m sure I’ve seen it.
Gina: Yes, it’s still in publication. Mrs. Beeton is credited with influencing modern celebrity domestic goddesses, and the TV drama Downtown Abbey refers to her book when deciding on food to use in its scenes.
Kellie: So she’s influencing media too! Let’s move onto number 3 – Thomas Garway.
Gina: Garway lived in London during the mid-17th century and was a guildsman and entrepreneur. During those years tea was an exotic herb from China that was prescribed by doctors and only available at an apothecary. Some of the sailors working the trade routes to the East Indies would bring tea back to sell onto doctors for high prices.
Kellie: I couldn’t have lived during those days then. I need tea to function. How did tea become popular?
Gina: I’m getting to that! Due to all the exclusivity of tea, it wasn’t very well known.
Kellie: That changed though, didn’t it?
Gina: Yes, that’s right! Thomas Garway had travelled throughout the world and had established his own trade routes. He had a popular coffee house and he began selling tea there. On 2nd September, 1658, he ran an advert in a local newspaper about his tea.
Kellie: And then it became more known?
Gina: Yes. His coffee shop, the Sultaness Head, was popular for those wanting to make connections as well as drink coffee so it led to tea becoming popular. Other coffee shops started stocking it and it spread throughout London and later Britain.
Kellie: I didn’t realise that was how tea came into Britain.
Gina: Now you know!
Kellie: Okay, moving onto number 2 – John Cadbury.
Gina: A very famous surname, I think! He was born in 1802 in Birmingham to a Quaker family. Quakers are a Christian denomination that broke away from the Church of England who believe that everyone is their own priest and can have their own direct relationship with Jesus Christ. Being a Quaker in those days also meant that he couldn’t go to university or join the army, so the only real option left open to him was business.
Kellie: I think his business may have been related to chocolate.
Gina: Eventually, yes! He began by selling tea, coffee and drinking chocolate that he brewed himself. Then he started manufacturing them on a larger scale in a factory and set up the Cadbury Brothers of Birmingham with his brother, Benjamin.
Kellie: I suppose chocolate was his biggest success though.
Gina: I would assume so! The company opened an office in London and received a Royal Warrant for producing cocoa for Queen Victoria. When import taxes on cocoa were reduced, Cadbury was able to sell chocolate cheaper and reach more people.
Kellie: It’s difficult to believe that chocolate was at one time too expensive.
Gina: Isn’t it? John Cadbury retired from Cadburys and left it in the hands of his sons in 1861 but not before developing an emulsification process that made chocolate solid. This process led to the invention of chocolate bars.
Kellie: And of course, most chocolate is sold as solids and in bars these days.
Gina: That’s right.
Kellie: Are you ready for our number 1, and our last number 1 of the series?
Gina: I was born ready!
Kellie: Okay, it’s Jack Cohen, the founder of Tesco.
Gina: Cohen began by operating from a market stall in Hackney, London. He was a charismatic seller and was able to attract customers and this led to him owning a chain of market stalls.
Kellie: Tesco began from market stalls?
Gina: It did. The first actual shops he owned that he opened in 1931 were designed to be open like market stalls also. By 1939 he had a hundred stores.
Kellie: He had a lot of success very quickly.
Gina: He had more confidence and was more willing to take risks than his peers. He would enter new markets and new shopping centres and make a success out of them. In 1932 he went to the US to see the style of grocery market there but wasn’t impressed.
Kellie: What was the US style?
Gina: It was more similar to the supermarkets of today. He eventually changed his mind though and implemented some of the things he saw there and opened the first supermarkets in Britain.
Kellie: As they were supermarkets, I suppose they were bigger than the other markets.
Gina: Yes, he used mass buying to stock his stores and keep them cheap and those techniques helped Tesco expand and were later copied by everyone else. He was knighted in 1969 for his services.
Kellie: That seems a nice place to leave this lesson, and finish the series.
Gina: I agree. I hope everyone has enjoyed listening and that it’s been fun and informative.


Kellie: I hope so too. Make sure to leave us a post on the lesson page if you have any comments or questions about this lesson or this series. And we’ll see you again in another series!
Gina: Thanks for listening, bye!

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This is the last lesson from this Series. Let us know what subject would you like us to talk about next time!