Tag Archives: british

Bunny Chow

Main Text

KK: “So there’s this dish in South Africa called bunny chow like colloquially, we just call it a bunny. It’s big enough that you would, it’s a big deal. There are restaurants that like specialize in bunnies, and essentially the the recipe is just you take a loaf of bread and you cut out the inside, and then you fill it with a curry of your choice. So like mutton curry, chicken curry, potato curry, beans, whatever. And the origin of it was, you know, Indian people from, like their homeland India, were taken by the British to South Africa to cut the sugar cane. They would be eating their lunch and would be eating curry, but they didn’t have anywhere to like put it or store it, and they didn’t have rice like easily accessible to them. So what they would do is just take the loaf of bread, like the British style bread, and fill it up with the curry. And then like nowadays, it’s just a really popular meal among the Indian South African community.”


KK is a 21 year old USC student studying psychology on a pre-med track. Of Indian descent, he was originally born in South Africa but has lived in England, the UAE and now in New York, Ny. Bunny Chow is obviously a fusion dish borne out of necessity, made by these displaced Indian sugar cane workers. It has since become so popular, according to KK, that he eats it at his home in America and restaurants specialize in serving it back in South Africa.


KK eats this meal regularly with his family at home in New York and says that the context this meal is served in is certainly a family style sit down dinner. Because of the size of a full loaf of bread, Bunny Chow is usually shared with multiple people which makes it a staple meal for Indian families with ties to South Africa.

Interviewer Analysis

Food traditions are very easy to share and that is why so many people have family recipes or dinner traditions that mean so much to them. I find it so interesting that this dish is a cultural fusion however, Indian style curry served inside British baked bread and served in Africa. This dish is obviously not something that came from a fancy written cookbook, but from the needs and innovation of everyday people. Bread bowls and Chalupas spring to mind as similar recipe variations on bread bowl with meat and vegetables inside, but it is obvious they do not share a common origin.

Sir Francis Drakes Drum

–Informant Info–

Nationality: British

Age: 20

Occupation: Student

Residence: Los Angeles, California

Date of Performance/Collection: 2022

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): N/A

(Notes-The informant will be referred to as JV and the interviewer as K)

Background info: JV is a student who was born in Britain and moved to the United States 2 years ago for college. He told me this story as we walked down the road due to a band playing drums nearby.

K: Lemme ask you a few questions before you get into it, dude! What’s the title, how do you know it, and whats the context of the performance?

JV: *laughter* yea, right, sorry, it’s called uh, I guess Sir Francis Drake’s drum, and you just kinda hear about it everywhere, from your mum to even like a history class or what have you. It’s kind of like uh…national pride? Like the cherry tree thing you blokes have going on. *laughter*

K: George Washington cutting down the cherry tree??

JV: Mmhm! *laughter*]

K: *laughter* Ok, ok tell the story already

JV: There honestly isn’t much to tell uh…Sir Francis Drake was this dude who was uh who had magic and could turn into a dragon, ergo the “drake” part of his name. He raided a bunch of Spanish ports and ya know, good ol English racism makes that a good thing. Anyways, he had this drum that he always brought with him on his like adventures I guess, and when he died the drum became like…a legend. Like, you you hit the drum SIr Francis Drake would come to England when it was in peril. Or sometimes the drum will hit itself when England is in danger *laughter*. There’s always tales about how during like war or something people have heard the drum being struck, and I guess we’ve always won.

K: Except during the American Revolution, how do they explain that

JV: *laughter* People conveniently ignore that

I loved the way this was told to me. I thought it was interesting how much humor the informant was able to bring to something with apparent national pride, which h showed me that the newer generation of British citizens possibly doesn’t take this tale as seriously;y as previous ones. The idea of a magic dragon coming to aid Britain when needed also speaks volumes about what the English adhere to most. Dragons are a motif in most of the UK, especially wales, where one is on their flag. Magic is also a feature in most of their folklore so it makes sense that it would make an appearance in something like this. I wonder in what regions it is told in still, as JV is from a smaller town in the countryside and didn’t know all the details.

Stiff Upper Lip


Informant (A) is a British international student studying at USC and grew up in London for his whole life.

Main Piece:

I: Okay, so have you ever heard of the phrase “stiff upper lip” and do you know what sort of context it’s used in?

A: Yes, I think that, um, the phrase kinda refers to people who are a little more serious and aren’t really as in touch with their emotions and don’t really like to have as much kinda fun, and aren’t so playful, and I think generally yeah, it is used to, you can use it to describe British people sometimes, because I think that a lot of British people are known to be kind of very, kind of, strong workers who kind of just drink tea and are grumpy and don’t really like, uh, I mean they just like to complain about things all the time. That’s a big staple of the UK, complaining, it’s massive.


I had heard the phrase “stiff upper lip” at a talk by Tan France (Pakistani-British) who claimed British people were less emotional compared to Americans, and wondered if my informant also knew about this phrase.


The phrase is an example of blason populaire. The idea that British people are less emotional is a stereotype and also a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy—as my informant (jokingly) states, complaining is “a big staple of the UK, complaining, it’s massive”, so there is possibly a bit of pride in embracing this stereotype as well. At my original encounter of this piece of folklore, Tan France used this phrase in front of an overwhelming majority of Americans. Blason populaire is one method of separating people via their identity and creates a generalization of people that belong to that identity which can either poke fun at people who don’t belong to that identity or at themselves. I believe Tan France was utilizing the former in his performance, while my informant was leaning towards the latter. My informant later gives many possible reasons why this image of British people may exist, from the idea that this may have stemmed from wartime so “the fun gene was destroyed” and there is much more judgment within UK society as a result, or that weather in the UK is generally gray and rainy (compared to LA which is notably more sunny). Within his reasons, he consistently refers back to American people as a point of comparison, further proving the point of blason populaire as separation.

British Bus Driver Joke



*Speaking in an artificial British accent*

Bus driver pulls up to a bus stop, opens the door, looks out and there’s a guy standing there. This guy has one leg, three eyes, no arms. 

So the bus driver looks at him and says, “Aye aye aye, you look ‘armless.” 

Background: The informant was born in Canada and spent most of his life in America. The joke was originally told to him by his Welsh father who has a natural British accent. The joke reminds the informant of his childhood, a time when he didn’t understand the joke but still enjoyed his father saying it to him. 

Context: The piece was collected while I stayed with the informant and his family during a state mandated stay-at-home order. We are very good friends and have known each other for a long time, making the performance very casual. He and I were about to sit down for dinner with both of his parents when he turned to me and posed the joke before saying it to his dad and asking if he remembered it. The piece was collected in its natural performance setting. 

Analysis: The humor of the joke relies on an understanding of the phrase “Aye aye aye” being a homonym of “eye eye eye”. This is comical due to the potential interpretation of the phrase as both a British greeting and a reference to the man’s three eyes. The second part of the joke relies on the usage of the British accent to omit the /h/ phoneme in “harmless” so that it sounds identical to the word “armless,” referencing the man’s lack of arms. While the joke isn’t considered overwhelmingly humorous to the informant and audience, conjuring a smile rather than a laugh, the informant retells it as a memory of his father and British heritage. For me, hearing the joke was joyful because it symbolized family and quintessential “dad humor.”

Guy Fawkes Day


The informant is a 29-year-old Caucasian female who will be called JH. She is of Irish and English descent and knows of this folklore from her family, more specifically her father. This folklore piece is told in her words:


Main Piece:

“My dad (who is half British and half American) used to tell us about Guy Fawkes Day. The 5th of November was a day where a poor man tried to erase the class system via blowing up the house of Parliament. He was caught, hanged, and burned for his crimes. Every year, British people not only burn effigies of straw men in celebration of saving parliament, but you’re supposed to also burn bad habits. Basically, we were told this was getting rid of the bad, or the “treasons” in your life.”


JH was told about the folklore on Guy Fawkes Day by her father as she didn’t know the story behind the celebration. She celebrates it with her family since her father’s side is British, although she isn’t religious. She appreciates celebrating the day because it is something she can do with her family.


Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated in commemoration of the failure of the “Gunpowder Plot” of 1605. This involved a group of Roman Catholic conspirators led by a man named Robert Catesby. They were upset by King James I refusing to grant religious tolerance to Catholics. The goal was to reestablish Catholic rule in England by killing the king and members of parliament. It is sometimes referred to as Bonfire Night and many people celebrate by making bonfires or setting of fireworks. I had not heard about this holiday prior to being told it by JH. It’s a very interesting thing to celebrate and how it is celebrated is interesting as well. I feel like these now; the day has become more of a cause to get together with family and friends to drink and eat together. Much like Saint Patrick’s Day, where it is celebrated by many people who have no real connection to the day.