Many a culinary joke is made at Britain’s expense. So it’s lucky that we Brits are also known for our excellent sense of humor, especially when it comes to laughing at ourselves. But consider this, perhaps we’re so ready to chuckle because our bellies are comfortably brimming with delectable, delicious food. So if you’re planning a visit to the UK soon, you may be wondering if the stereotype has any truth to it? We don’t think so—and here are 8 British foods to try that prove it.
1. Fish and Chips
It’s an odd paradox that as an island nation, Brits actually don’t tend to eat much fish. Especially when compared to our European counterparts. But one thing we do indulge in is Fish and Chips. Fresh pieces of white fish are coated in a delicious golden batter and served alongside chunky chips. Doused in salt and vinegar and served with a side of mushy peas, Fish and Chips are best enjoyed on a sunny day by the seaside. For a truly authentic experience, ask for Scraps or batter bits, which are the extra bits of crispy batter that have detached from the fish. Not only will you get an extra little treat free of charge, you’ll impress everyone in the chip shop and quite possibly be invited to meet the Queen (or not).
2. Roast Dinner
Now the French know how to roast a piece of beef and far be it from me to take that away from them. What they don’t know how to do is how to serve that roast beef, alongside crispy roasted potatoes, enormous pillows of Yorkshire pudding, mountains of vegetables and lashings of gravy. Traditionally served on a Sunday lunchtime so as to create a happy post-lunch food coma, the roast dinner has to be one of the Nation’s favorite dishes. It usually comes with a choice of either Chicken, Beef, Pork or Lamb and each have their own sauce accompaniment. Spicy horseradish for Beef, sweet applesauce for Pork and savory mint for Lamb. Ok, so they all have an accompaniment apart from Chicken which just sings by itself. Many pubs serve roast dinners or Sunday Lunch, but to have a truly authentic experience, try and befriend a Brit just in time to be invited round for dinner. This is one of those dishes where the homemade version can’t be beaten.
3. Lancashire Hotpot
Technically you really should journey to the North of England to enjoy this regional recipe as, not only will you get enormous portion sizes, but you’ll be traveling back to the source of this very old dish. Onions, potatoes, lamb and gravy are covered in seasoning and then cooked at a very low temperature for a very long time. It may seem simple, but magic happens in that stewing pot and what it reveals at the end is a warming, comforting, flavorsome hug on a plate, served with a side of tangy pickled red cabbage.
4. Full English Breakfast
Despite what you might think, this is not one of those British foods to try that locals actually eat every day. In fact, to do so would not only be very time consuming but also grant you a stern look from your doctor. However, this magnificent monument to fried food is a firm favorite of any Brit and is a wonderful hangover cure…or so I’ve heard.
There are a few variations but generally speaking, a Full English contains fried eggs and bread, bacon, sausage and beans. It usually also includes one or more of the following: mushrooms, tomatoes (again fried obviously) hash browns and black pudding. All delivered with a steaming mug of tea, this breakfast will not only set you up for the day but possibly the entire week…
5. Bangers and Mash
Now we all know mash is mashed potato and Bangers means sausages. Actually, that last one you might not and quite honestly, it’s only just occurred to me that this is a strange name for a sausage (as Brits, we don’t really think about it). A quick bit of googling suggests that the name originates from just after the First World War. With strict rationing in place, the meat in sausages was padded out with water and cereal, meaning the sausage would splutter a lot when they were fried. Hence they were like tiny, meaty explosions or “bangers” in the pan.
Thankfully nowadays it’s easy to get your hands on a more substantial sausage, which is fried and served on a bed of mashed potatoes with oodles of onion gravy. This is a very warming, comforting and importantly filling dish and one that is often craved on cold, dark days here.
6. Beans on Toast
I have seen internet discussions gently mock British people for their love of beans on toast. And yet these people have obviously never tried it because if they had, they would mock no longer. More of a lunchtime meal or light snack, baked beans are piled high onto buttery toast and occasionally topped with cheese and Worcestershire sauce. The result is filling, frugal and very, very tasty. It’s unlikely you’ll find this being served in restaurants but if you see it offered at a small café or greasy spoon, you should jump at the chance to try it.
7. Cream Tea
One of the most stereotypical of British foods to try, this might seem an obvious one, but no visit to the UK would be complete without a good cream tea. It really is as delicious as it sounds. Warm scones are served with jam and either butter or clotted cream and a large pot of tea. If you’re thinking of going fancy, you can upgrade to high tea which is a very formal affair involving savory snacks like cucumber sandwiches and tiny teacups. If you’re thinking more rustic, head down to Devon or Cornwall for a proper authentic scone and tea experience, hopefully with beautiful seaside views to enjoy alongside it. But be careful about what order you put the cream and jam on as locals are very particular about this. Devon devotees put their jam on top of the cream whilst Cornish folk do the opposite. But either way is delicious.
8. Sticky Toffee Pudding
A relative newcomer to the food world, the Sticky Toffee Pudding was only invented in the 1970s. So the fact it’s gone from inception to total domination of the British pudding scene in fewer than 50 years shows just how good it is. A very moist sponge is covered in gloriously sticky, gooey and unctuous toffee sauce that is counteracted by a large dollop of cool cream or ice cream. For the very best, head up to the Lake District and source yourself a Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding. You won’t regret it.
Know of any more British foods to try not mentioned here? Comment below!
Suggested next reading: 9 Weird & Wonderful Places To Dine Out In London