Compared to our neighbours on the continent (France and Italy, I’m looking at you in particular), British food sometimes gets a bad rap and doesn’t always get the praise it deserves. French food is renowned for being so sophisticated yet utterly-delicious and Italian food is regarded as real comfort, indulgent (and particularly commercial) food all across the world. British food on the other hand is synonymous with British weather, dull, boring and sometimes grey (figuratively speaking in most cases) but this is so far from the truth! There are so many tasty British culinary delights and here are a list of recommended everyday foods enjoyed and eaten quite regularly all across the UK! When you visit the UK next, do ensure you take some time to try out one of two or even all of the foods on the list. 🙂
1.) Fish and Chips: Perhaps the biggest staple and most polular of all British meals. Pretty much liked (or in some case, loved) by everyone and if you don’t, you’re probably doing it all wrong. 🙂 Fish and chips in the UK is amazing when done correct but unfortunately, not everywhere does great fish and chips and this includes even some nice restaurants. The best fish and chips I’ve had have actually been from proper chip shops (so have the worst) so it’s best to do a bit of research to avoid being disppointed. With places like www.just-eat.co.uk, you can sort out chippies (the shops) by user ratings and filter out the bad ones. Don’t go on just the ranks alone, some fish and chip shops might have not so great pies for example but great fish and chips so take the time to read one or two reviews. Some of the best we’ve had have been in sea side towns now that we come to think of it though quite a few in London have very pleasantly surprised us and of particular note is the Anstruther Fish Bar which has the lightest crispiest batter imaginable and the best chips ever (which is why it a host of famous fans and clientelle ranging from Tom Hanks to Prince William). In any case, whatever you do when you visit the UK, make sure you take a little time to try out some Fish and Chips.
2.) Haggis, Neeps and Tatties: Of which, Haggis is definitely the star of this show. Haggis is a tradition Scottish pudding which is supposed to be of sheep’s heart, liver, lungs, onions, oatmeal, spices and some stock. It effectively tastes like a spicy meaty sausage and is really quite delicious! A favourite on Burns Supper (an annual event celebrating the famed Scottish poet Robert Burns – of the ‘Auld Lang Syne’ fame) is to recite his poem ‘Address To A Haggis’ (the full poem is available here) and if you’re lucky, you might even get some bagpipes playing and a céilidh (Gaelic music and dancing) after the supper. This year, at Cambridge University, I remember listening to this peom and I remember thinking it was a fairly new experience but it turns out that I may have been suitably liquored up before other Burns Nights suppers in the past and hence not the ‘Address To A Haggis’ before… I blame the Scottish Whisky. And and lest I forget! Neeps and Tatties are Turnips and Potatoes (respectively). Haggis is typically served with these two and preferably washed down with some nice whisky!
3.) Bangers and Mash: Sausages and Mashed potatoes (definite potato-based meal trend emerging). One of the simplest meals to make (unless you plan on making your sausages from scratch!) but one of the most satistying of ‘stodgy’ meals. This is especially so if you get some really creamy mash and regardless of what anyone else says, add a little extra butter when it comes to your table. If you’re making this at home, maybe tell the cook (even if the cook is you!) to not add the butter at the start and let the diners add it themselves to their desired quantities.
4.) Steak and Kidney Pie: Pies! Pies!! Pies!!! Can’t get enough of them and this is easily one of the most British and of the most popular pieces! A strong rival would be the Chicken and Leek pie for people who don’t like red meat but the steak and kidney pie is a truly justifiable British favourite!
5.) Sunday Dinner: Lamb, Chicken or Beef? In my case preferably all three!!! I kid you not, if all three are available I will have all three. The only exception is if there’s an extra choice of Turkey and/or Pork (like in Toby Carvery) in which case I will have all 4 or 5! I feel like from previous posts we’ve already establish my gluttony so lets just move past the judgement… 🙂 Thanks to this obsession with food, I’ve learnt to make a mean Sunday Dinner which I will share with you all in the near future. Though there was that one time I absent-mindedly bough lettuce instead of cabbage and proceeded to cook it anyway but I digress… The Sunday dinner is family tradition in which everyone gathers round to eat this stacked plate of vegetables, yorkshire pudding, potatoes and whatever else you can stack onto your plate – all washed down with some thick gravy! Extra points are given if you can manage to stack your plate and not spill any gravy on yourself when you walk to you table at home. (Okay no is keeping the score here but imagine your distress when you sit down to eat your meal and fine a huge trail of gravy down your clothes).
6.) Bacon Sandwich: This is nothing special – it is literally a bacon sandwich but is quick breakfast favourite across the UK. This is made even more special when the buns have just been baked and the bacon has just been cook (preferably ever so slightly crisp). It’s typically quite cheap as well so it’s a good grab-and-go option if you have a full morning/day of sightseeing ahead.
7.) Full English Breakfast: The King AND Queen of breakfasts! Of course depending on where you are in the UK, these can also be Full /Irish/Welsh/Scottish Breakfasts. Effectively every breakfast food you can think of all piled on your plate – sausages, eggs, beans, toast, hash browns, tomoatoes, black pudding and much more if you can get it to fit on your plate. Never has breakfast been so varied, so delicious and so satisfying! The biggest challenge when trying to make this though is timing everything so not one item arrive at your table too cold.
8.) Beef Wellington: The finest fillet steak, often smothered in pâté, covered in a rich and light puff pastry! It’s safe to say I’ve never met a beef wellington I didn’t like and if you’re into your meats chances are you can probably say the same too. Another pie of sorts that is a truly fantastic British delicacy.
9.) Welsh Cawl: Having never been a fan of soups (and by inference stews too) due to how hungry I am shortly after and how bland some soups are but I am quite surprised at how much I love Welsh Cawl. It is such a perfect winter warmer and is comprised of swede, potatoes, carrots, leek, some stock and a meat of some sort (my favourite is lamb) though you can quite easily make a vegetarian version. It is so surprisingly filling (which could explain why I love it so much) and very healthy too! There’s nothing better than coming home a blisteringly cold winter evening, warming up by the fireplace with a bowl of Welsh Cawl, Cheese and some crusty bread in hand. #WinterPerfection
Moving off from the more savory options, here are the sweet trends that go quite nicely with the ones above:
10.) Sticky Toffee Pudding: Consistently a favourite across the UK (and my personal favourite), Sticky Toffee pudding when done right is one of the most indulgent desserts in the UK. As the name implies, it’s a steamed cake drench in liquid toffee and sometimes served with a side of ice cream or custard.
11.) Bread and Butter Pudding: It is quite literally a pudding make of bread and butter which for some reason I never thought about when I first had it – mostly because it doesn’t taste like just plain bread and butter but instead is this delicious sweet dessert that is a firm british favourite. One of the best twists I’ve had of this is using a croissant or a brioche instead of regular bread (which is a bit of a cheap departure from the British theme) but it makes it even tastier!
12.)Trifle: Dessert you don’t have to feel too guilty about. Fair enough there that huge cream layer but there’s also jelly (which barely has any calories in it) and when done right, contains fresh fruit to your 5 (or has it changed to 7 now) a day!
Honourable Mention: Those that didn’t make the list but are intriguing or interesting enough to try out…
13.) Deep-Fried Anything in Scotland (though predominantly Deep-Fried Mars Bars): Its safe to say deep frying any food is probably of one the most unhealthy things you can do when it comes to food but this is a meal that makes the honourable mention list due to the factors other than taste. Scotland is famous for deep-friend mars bars though that being said, I lived in Scotland for years and never saw one let alone tried one but my friend from down south did try it on a trip to Scotland and loved it! I recommend trying it even just for the curiousity/tick-list factor but would not recommend making a habit of having this all the time. This being said, I did however see loads of other deep fried stuff – deep fried pizzas, deep fried pies… etc in a few chip shops! Effectively if it was edible, could be dipped in batter and fried, it was in this shop.
14.) Welsh Cakes: A tasty tea acommpanier and one of my favourite things when I’m in Wales (or have someone coming to visit me from Wales). These aren’t dessert food that you would have on its own after a meal but curled up on the sofa, mug of tea in one hand, these are sheer perfection!
15.)Spotted Dick: A cake with dried fruits (raisins and currants) and served with custard! Particularly popular in the UK (not really so keen on them to be honest) and hence it’s inclusion on the list.
Any now I pose these questions to you. If you’re a visitor to the UK, which of these have you tried and if you live in the UK, which foods would you like to see added to the list?