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.