A visit to the UK will not be complete without savouring the staples of British cuisine. Some British foods, like Fish and Chips or a Full English Breakfast hardly need any introduction. British gastronomy is as abundant as the country’s cultural heritage. You can find great seafood on the coast, seriously good quality meat and definitely a lot of good British ale to accompany your meal with.
Full English breakfast
No better way to start the day than a sturdy breakfast. Eggs – check, beans – check, hash brown – check and of course some crunchy bacon too. A good fry-up is all you need to layer your toasted bread with and a grand appetite should not be missing. Try to find a full English breakfast at a local, neighbourhood cafe.
Fish and chips
Fish and chips is famous across the globe for the light and crunchy coat of butter. A delicious piece of fried cod comes with a handful of freshly cooked chips and optionally with mushy peas. Try it, the British way, with a generous helping of salt and vinegar on your chips.
British beef – Steak and kidney pie
British beef has a very proud tradition. There are six classic British beef breeds that have been exported across the hemisphere and nowhere can the heifers be better fed than the rolling fields of Britain. If corned beef sandwich is the first thing the springs to mind, wait until you try it in a roast or better still in a pie. Slowly cooked diced beef and diced kidney, a generous helping of brown gravy with fried onions all cased in flaky pastry, this is what steak and kidney pie is about. This pie makes the ultimate comfort food on a cold day.
The Scotch egg was invented by Fortnum and Mason back in the days of horse-drawn carriages. It is one of the quintessential British foods that hardly need an introduction: a hardboiled egg wrapped in minced meat and a crunchy crust. This might be just the thing you are looking for to continue with a busy day out. This is the traditional version; look out for the modern ones with great new twists.
Sunday roast with mint jelly and Yorkshire pudding
There is nothing that signals better British than the Sunday roast. Pubs nowadays have exquisite menus for Sunday lunches. Look out for roast beef or roast lamb with mint jelly. These both come with Yorkshire pudding. Don’t be fooled, this pudding is no dessert but pastry puffs like no other.
Bangers and mash
There are many types of sausages to seek out for apart from classic flavours. Pork sausages with bramley apples or with leeks and chives and the long round Cumberland sausages are three special sausages worth trying out. You can have them with mash potatoes – as in bangers and mash or you can enjoy a good British sausage in toad in a hole, with flaky pastry.
Cottage pie or Shepherds pie
Cottage pie or Shepherd’s pie is one of the most homely of British foods. This pie, it is not encased in pastry like the steak and kidney pie. It simply has a scrumptious mince meat sauce, with peas and carrots and it is layered with lavish mash potatoes on top. There is a difference between cottage and Shepherd’s pie. In the first you will find beef mince whilst in the latter lamb’s mince. They are equally delicious and certainly a good call after a long day.
Beer, bread, and cheese have been combined in the English diet as far as anyone can remember. For a ploughman’s lunch you only need a few ingredients at hand: a nice slice of bread some good cheddar and a fine, sharp onion pickle. This simple dish has been served to travellers at the inns for centuries. Its name however is relatively more recent. This sandwich was baptised as Ploughman’s lunch in the 1950s in an attempt to promote British cheese. It stayed on for good reason; it’s a very satisfying and filling snack to have when on the go.
No visit to the UK would be complete without afternoon tea. What is afternoon tea? Well, it is a mini-meal enjoyed in early afternoon, started back at the mid 19th century with many tea rooms operated across the country. It is however much more than a quick meal, afternoon tea is a ritual of the teapot and strainer, a separate jug of milk and tinkling spoons. Afternoon tea is quality time, a way to stop and relax. Along with your tea you will have soft sandwiches, cut in fingers, scones and clotted cream and dainty pastries. Nowadays it is often accompanied by champagne if you want to make it a little more special and is certainly a winner if you need a snack before heading to the theatre.
The Food markets
Once you have covered the basics as mentioned above, chances are you might be into something new. Head to the markets to walk among sellers of fresh produce and grab a bite on the go. In neighbourhoods the farmers markets are organised weekly and most likely you will find the array of stalls waiting for you during the weekend. If in London, there is the emblematic Borough Market at London Bridge. Chances are you will be mesmerised by the great quality British foods and you will definitely find something you have not tasted before.