With ‘It’s Coming Home’ fever having spread across the UK recently, it’s a time to be proud to be British, and curry has firmly become part of British folklore now. Who can forget the classic song, ‘Vindaloo’ by Fat Les, that also became a football anthem the same year as Three Lions? But when did curry start to become part of British culture? We may think it was the 20th century, but you’d be wrong. It all starts with… coffee.
It’s not that curry contains the black stuff (I think we’re all glad about that!), it’s rather that curry’s first home was in the trendy Coffee houses of London. You’ll have to cast your mind back, if you can, to before the days of ubiquitous, cookie-cutter coffee chains crowding our streets. We’re heading way back to 1810.
The Coffee Houses of Britain in the early 19th Century were places where people gathered for more serious conversation – politics and philosophy, and in 1810 the Hindostanee Coffee House of London opened with something new to win over the discerning regulars, new tastes from India.
Was it a success? Well, no.
Due to lack of business, the Hindostanee Coffee House closed a year later, but the legacy of curry remained intact as Britain took curry into its heart, with Queen Victoria being known for her love of curry. The rest, as they say, is history.
So next time you tuck into a curry, thank the humble cup of coffee for giving it the chance to shine.