Most people believe that British Food is boring and tasteless but this is just a myth and let me tell you why. Britain is a melting pot of cultures and this has also clearly evident in the food landscape of the country. Walking down literally any road in the United Kingdom. one will find an Indian restaurant, a Chinese takeaway and a Turkish kebab shop and that is besides all the other eateries and grocery stores. During my time of living in London I managed to try out so many different regional, local and international cuisines it felt like I was travelling the world one bite at a time and I was gaining tips to develop a sophisticated palate.
History of British Food:
British food has always been hearty and comforting mainly because of the weather and location in terms of fresh produce.Most meals consisted of meat and two vegetables.As Britain colonised the world one country at a time ,they brought back with them new ingredients,spices and methods of cooking.
Most of the Indian food found in Britain can not be found in India as these dishes were created especially for the British.As far back as Victorian times curry has been cooked in the kitchen.Not only were Indian spices brought back but the Indian cooks were also brought to Britain.
Traditional British Food :
Every dish has a story and with that in mind most British dishes have a story and are made with locally sourced ingredients by locals. The thing that always makes me laugh is some of the names given to these dishes that make them sound rather strange and off-putting but in actual fact are rather delicious. Most of the food is high energy food and carbohydrate loaded which one would assume was due to the cold weather experienced in the United Kingdom.
- Full English Breakfast– a fried up breakfast including eggs, bacon , sausages, black pudding, baked beans, tomatoes and mushroom served with toast and jam and gallons of tea. This popular breakfast is often served as an all day breakfast and like the name suggests it does fill you up all day. A breakfast like this can not be eaten every day and is a great hangover cure ahem I have heard. Condiments served include HP Brown Sauce, mustard and Ketchup.
- Welsh Rarebit a savoury sauce made with different cheeses and poured over toasted bread and grilled.
- Toad in the Hole a traditional dish consisting of sausages cooked in a Yorkshire pudding batter and served with a brown onion gravy.
- Yorkshire Pudding – is usually served as an accompaniment to a Sunday roast dinner.It is made from flour, milk and eggs to form a batter
- Spotted Dick a steamed pudding made suet and dried fruit and served a vanilla custard.
- Fish and Chips – a popular takeaway meal usually bought from a chippie consisting of fresh fish coated in a batter and deep-fried served with a portion of chips drenched in vinegar an wrapped in newspaper.
- Scotch Egg – a hard-boiled egg is coated with sausage meat and crumbed before frying.Often served as a picnic snack.
- Bubble and Squeak traditionally a breakfast dish made from leftover potato and cabbage and pan-fried like patties till crispy on the outside.
- Bangers and Mash a popular pub meal consisting of sausages,mash potatoes ,peas and a brown onion gravy.
- Ploughman’s Lunch a cold meal served with cold cuts of meat,cheese,pickles ,boiled eggs and bread.
- Cottage Pie– much like the Shepherds Pie but is made with beef mince.
- Lancashire Hot Pot a lamb or mutton stew topped with slices of potato and slow cooked.
- Pie, Mash and Liquor considered a poor man’s meal a hearty meat pie served with mashed potatoes and a parsley and butter sauce.
- Black Pudding a blood sausage that is served with a full english breakfast.
- Kedgeree a spicy rice consisting of fish ,boiled eggs and sultanas.Often a brunch dish.
- Eaton Mess a dessert made from strawberries ,broken meringue and whipped cream.
- Cornish Pasty comes from Cornwall initially was a meal for the miners which included sweet and a savoury filling on either end.Now it contains beef ,potato and onions.
- Cream Tea tea time treats consisting of scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam
- Sandwiches a great staple of the British Food tradition.The Earl of Sandwich invented the sandwich by asking his staff to put some meat between 2 bits of bread as he was too busy playing cards to go and eat dinner.
- Trifle a layered dessert of sponge cake,tinned or fresh fruit topped with jelly ,custard and fresh cream
- Bakewell Tart a short crust pastry filled with jam topped with frangipani icing and flaked almonds.
- Pigs in a blanket small cocktail sausages wrapped in streaky bacon and baked.Served as an appetiser.If a glace cherry is added it is called Devil’s on Horseback.
- Shepherds Pie– lamb minced is cooked with vegetables and layered with mashed potato and baked.
- Sunday Roast dinner generally served for lunch on a Sunday.A roast beef joint served with gravy,peas ,carrots ,yorkshire pudding and roast potato.
Most popular British Foods
In several food studies over the years the following have proven to be very popular among the people of Britain .These named below often feature on a weekly basis in most of the country’s diet.It is interesting to note that there is a mix of traditional and international dishes that feature in the lists of favourite British Foods.
- Chicken Tikka Masala
- Sticky Toffee pudding
- Roast Dinners
- A cup of Tea
- Bacon Butty
- Jaffa cakes
- Beef Wellington
- Chinese stir fry
- Apple Crumble
I find it incredibly interesting how the list above is so multicultural and from all over the globe.This is clearly an indication of the world becoming smaller ,people travelling and living in all continents away from their roots and cultural heritage.
British Food Today:
Like every voyage of discovery around the world ,the food of Britain over the time has evolved into a melting pot of flavours from all over the globe.Down every street corner you will find food from at least three different countries alongside a typical Fish and Chip shop.With the movement of people from all over the globe who now call Britain home,they have brought with them their food cultures and history.
Speciality food shops can be found all over selling typical ingredients from that part of the world.A wander through London’s East End and one can easily think they are in India down Green Street ,Sri Lanka in Eastham and the Caribbean in Hackney.One of the main things expats hold onto are their food traditions ,though over time some dishes have evolved due to lack of typical ingredients.I recall my days of living away from home in London and finding a South African store selling things from home,even things I normally would not have eaten or drank ,I bought because it was a piece of home.
For me living in Britain was my first class ticket to eat the world around the country.I was intrigued and amazed by the wide variety of food that it was almost a sensory overload.To me it seemed like I could travel trying out so many delicious dishes from around the world and I did not need a visa.With each new place I ate at I discovered a new culture filled with traditions and divine food.I truly believe that one learns about a country was been and people and through my adventures I got to travel the globe one bite at a time.
British food today has evolved taken on a new twist with fresh and modern flavours yet the dishes are still recongisable.I for one am madly obsessed with BBC Food and love chefs like Nigella ,Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay.So much like the rest of the world the food scene is becoming exciting and more inclusive than ever before thus giving one so many meal choices and options.Supermarkets now too carry specialised ingredients and pre cooked meals.
London is known also for its amazing food markets with fresh fruit ,vegetables and meat.Not forgetting the Foodie markets like those found in Camden selling food from around the world.My favourite market besides Camden is Borough Market a place to feed all your senses but do check which days it is open.
Food will always be an important part of life especially our culture and roots.So it is no wonder that British Food has undergone a transformation and become a melting pot of food deliciousness down every street.
Be Inspired !