Survey Variable: Eating Out Cuisines

Figure 1. See also Table A1.

In addition to the types of places that people go to when eating out, the survey also asked them about the national and regional cuisines that they eat. As we can see in Figure 1 (above, using weighted data), British cuisine is by far the most popular, with more than nine in every ten people (92.9%) eating it at least occasionally. Around seven in ten (73.0%) people eat Italian cuisine, and more than half eat East Asian (e.g. Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, which 57.5% eat) or South Asian (e.g. Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, which 51.5% eat) cuisines. All of the other cuisines are eaten by less than half of people, and the least popular categories are ‘Other European’ (for instance, the German-speaking and Scandinavian countries were not referenced in other categories, and 3.7% selected this option), ‘Eastern European’ (eaten by 7.1%), and ‘African’ (eaten by 7.4%).

As with the types of places that people eat, these patterns in popularity could, in large part, reflect the prevalence of outlets selling these cuisines in Great Britain, though this raises a question of which came first. Do people’s eating habits reflect what’s available or do entrepreneurs set up eateries to reflect trends in public tastes? It is probably some cyclical combination of the two, but it is likely that part of the choice about what to eat is shaped by what is available. Further, we can ask questions about the categories that people were presented with: reflecting an unfortunate tendency in Britain (and perhaps elsewhere), I created a single category for African cuisine, despite the fact that there are huge variations in the food from different parts of that continent. For instance, perhaps people would have been more likely to select specific Moroccan or South African options, which may be more evocative than the generic ‘African’ category. Further, it would be interesting to see what people would have selected if the ‘East Asian,’ ‘South Asian,’ and ‘Latin American’ categories had been split into some of their constituent countries. Also, Some people might legitimately object to the generic label ‘American,’ given that it technically refers to both North and South America rather than to the United States specifically, as was the intention. Finally, these variables do not measure frequency of eating cuisines, so lots of people might eat British food infrequently, whilst Greek restaurants might be full of the same loyal customers who go every week.

Notwithstanding the particular flaws in the design of this question, it will be interesting to see whether certain cuisines, especially the less popular ones, tend to be selected together. Are there some people who seek out less popular cuisines, and others who stick to familiar and widespread national and regional dishes? This remains to be seen, but we can look at how many cuisines people indicate that they eat. Like the types of places that they eat, the distribution is relatively flat at the lower end and three quarters of people (74.5%) eat between one and six cuisines. Again, this is unlike the distribution of the number of cultural activities that people do, which is skewed towards higher numbers, indicating that people participate in a wide range of cultural activities at least occasionally but have more constrained culinary tastes when they eat out.

Figure 2. See also Table A2.
Variable namescc_eot_british_bmv, cc_eot_french_bmv,
cc_eot_italian_bmv, cc_eot_spanish_bmv,
cc_eot_greek_bmv, cc_eot_turkish_bmv,
cc_eot_easterneuropean_bmv,
cc_eot_otheruropean_bmv, cc_eot_american_bmv,
cc_eot_mexican_bmv, cc_eot_latinamerican_bmv,
cc_eot_southasian_bmv, cc_eot_eastasian_bmv,
cc_eot_african_bmv, cc_eot_middleeastern_bmv,
cc_eot_other_bmv
Number of cases1,328
Number of categories2
Categories to code as missingNone
Cases to code as missingNone
Recoded variable namecc_eot_count
Number of cases1,328
Number of categories16
New and old categoriesCategory 1 (‘Yes’) on each of the original
variables was counted as 1 (i.e.
indicating that the type of cuisine is
eaten), with category 0 (‘No’) counted
as zero. As such, 1 on the new variable
indicates that only one type of cuisine
is eaten when eating out (respondents
who don’t eat out were not asked this
question, which is why there are no zero
(0) answers), whilst 16 indicates that all
of the cuisines are eaten at least
occasionally.
Details of the original and recoded eating out cuisines variables.

Published by joegreenwoodhau

Joe Greenwood-Hau is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Government & Public Policy at the University of Strathclyde, where he works on the Capital, Privilege and Political Participation in Britain and Beyond project.

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