I’m excited for this #FoodieFriday post because I lived in England and (surprisingly!) I really enjoyed the food there! While the UK definitely isn’t known for its food the way places like France and Italy are (in fact, England’s cuisine is sometimes known for being infamously bad), there are still a lot of tasty and uniquely British dishes you can try on a visit there.
This type of dish pretty well represents British food: heavy, warm, filling. You can find meat pies in most pubs. Shepherd’s pie is one common, tasty variety that uses beef; ham, chicken, steak, cheese, and potatoes are other regular meat pie staples.
If you’re near the coast or in the Lake District…or even if you’re not…definitely try fish pie. It’s creamy and full of vegetables. Delicious. Here’s an easy recipe from the BBC so you can try it at home.
Similar to meat pies but a little different is the Cornish pasty. This once regionally popular dish is now available in all corners of the UK thanks to chains like West Cornish Pasty Co. A classic pasty is made with beef, potatoes, and onion, and maybe a few other types of vegetables, fully enclosed in a uniquely shaped crispy golden crust. More creative pasty varieties are also available at pasty shops in England, such as ham and apple or chicken and mushroom. I love pasties, but you can actually taste how much salt is in them (a LOT).
Of course, I had to try a Cornish pasty on my trip to Cornwall.
This delicious meal is served at many pubs on Sunday afternoons. It generally consists of a carving station (either available like a buffet or on a menu that you can choose options from) with different types of meats like turkey, ham, and chicken; potatoes and vegetables; a puffy pastry; and maybe some additional things like sausage or cranberry sauce.
While restaurants are always a little pricey, Sunday roast can give you a lot of bang for your buck.
Cream tea is the cheaper alternative to a full afternoon tea. Cream teas forgo the cute tea sandwiches and desserts—it’s just a pot of tea and a scone, usually with jam or lemon curd.
The best tea I had in England was berry tea at Biddy’s Tea Room in Norwich—I love fruity teas, and this one was rich and flavorful.
Bubble and squeak
Often making use of the leftovers from a roast dinner, according to Wikipedia, bubble and squeak was traditionally made with potatoes and cabbage. I had it for breakfast when I was in Oxford for a long weekend—it wasn’t my favorite, but it’s worth trying.
Here’s a recipe.
Don’t fancy cabbage for breakfast? Try the full English breakfast, which is extremely popular in England and includes bacon, eggs, fried mushrooms and tomatoes, baked beans, sausage, and toast.
Fish and chips
Yes, the requisite fish and chips, which are about as bland and as classic as can be. If you are craving fish, I say go with fish pie. But the one thing you can’t pass up are cheesy chips.
Just how they sound, these are fries with melted cheese, and they are heavenly. You might have to walk around town a little bit to find a fish bar that serves cheesy chips. A lot of them don’t.
The British version of grilled cheese, these hot sandwiches can be easily found on most lunch menus. They get pretty creative and usually have a more ingredients than just bread and cheese, including lunch meats, fruits like apple slices, and tomato. The best one I’ve had was Wensleydale and mango chutney.
Cakes and pastries
Britain has a number of popular desserts that you can buy in cafes or supermarkets (Tesco, M&S, Morrisons). These include Eccles cakes (flaky pastry filled with currants), Bakewell tarts (crust filled with jam), and flapjacks (a sort of granola bar baked in a tray and cut into squares).
I would include mince pie in this category at Christmastime, since you can buy these tiny pies at the supermarket if you don’t feel like baking them yourself. Mincemeat is traditionally made with suet and/or lard, and it has a very distinctive flavor that I actually quite liked.
Another supermarket raid suggestion. Definitely try Cadbury and Kinder chocolate, as well as candies you don’t see in America like Maltesers, jelly babies (I had these on top of a smoothie once…it was interesting), Wispa, Lion, and Aero.
Bonus: Cereal with yogurt
I picked up this habit from my British flatmates—instead of pouring milk on cold cereal (like Cheerios), they dumped in enough spoonfuls of plain yogurt that they could mix it up with the cereal. I usually add a little honey on top as well if the cereal isn’t sweet (and British cereals aren’t, compared to American cereals). It is really good and (I think) more filling than just using milk.
What are your favorite British foods?