English cuisine has a distinctive character of its own yet shares many traits with wider British cooking, partly due to the importation of ingredients and ideas from North America, China, and India during the time of the British Empire and as a result of post-war immigration. Traditional meals have ancient origins, such as bread and cheese, roasted and stewed meats, meat and game pies, boiled vegetables and broths, and freshwater and saltwater fish. English cooking has been affected by foreign ingredients and cooking styles since the Middle Ages. For instance, curry was introduced from the Indian subcontinent and adapted to English tastes from the 18th century. French cuisine shaped English recipes throughout the Victorian era. And after the rationing of the Second World War, Italian cuisine had a very strong influence, too – all this encouraged cookery writers to explore other styles, including Chinese and Thai cuisine. To this day, England continues to absorb culinary ideas from all over the world.