This is a guest post by Lisa Herms from Florida, USA, currently a resident at urbanest King’s Cross. She is studying International Health Policy (Health Economics) Masters course at London School of Economics.
Interesting fact: I actually enjoy reading Shakespeare…and all types of classic literature!
“What I love most about London are the people, the shopping, the history, the atmosphere!”
Eating is an important activity in my life. I love to eat and appreciate good food. And I absolutely love getting to know a different culture through the food it has to offer. So now while you’re here, take the daring step to shy away from the usual pizza and pasta with tomato sauce, and try some of the traditional food this country has to offer. Time to remember that we are not only in the intercultural London, featuring any type of food you can imagine, but also in Britain. To get you started with your exploration of the culinary culture Britain has to offer, here are some foods to try – classic dishes from all over Britain. Some are full meal experiences, others are just snacks or deserts…but there should be something to everyone’s liking.
Related – Things You Can Only Buy in the UK
1. Afternoon Tea
Though it may not be something that you adopt in your weekly eating habits, having afternoon tea is an experience everybody must do at least once. If you pick the right place, you’ll be able to try a whole bunch of British foods all in one sitting: cucumber sandwiches, egg and cress sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, crumpets, orange marmalade, Victoria sponge… And don’t forget to add the milk to your tea.
Pies are truly a British classic. You absolutely have to try one, and go all out and have it with mashed potatoes, peas and smothered in gravy while you’re at it! Steak and kidney pie would be the ultimate classic, but chicken and leek also “counts”. If you’re not enticed by this either, there are all types of varieties of pies available. My personal favorite are the pies by Pieminister – available, for example, on the LSE campus or on Borough market – and they sometimes have some more quirky fillings, but any good deli ought to have some pies on offer.
3. Traditional English Breakfast
The ultimate way to start your day: a full English breakfast. Of course, specifics can vary based on location, but the main idea is to heap a bunch of delicious (and mostly hot) breakfast foods on your plate. Sausages, eggs, beans, hash browns, toast, tomatoes…you name it!
4. Fish and Chips
For most, this is the epitome of British dishes. The name basically says it all. Dripping with grease and yet so delicious. For my Americans, just remember that “chips” = “fries” (and “crisps” = US “chips”).
I’m not sure of the origins of porridge, and I know that it is also served across the world (like oatmeal in the US), but I thought porridge deserved mention with British foods, since it can be found anywhere. In restaurants, cafeterias and on-the-go. It is also a “dish” you can very easily make yourself and maybe include as your new breakfast. You can make it sweet with honey or go the more healthy route and add fresh fruit.
6. Bacon Sandwich
Again, the name says it all. A traditional British dish and perfect as a quick breakfast on the go or as a snack in between. It’s also a cheap eat and perhaps it would be a good investment to try to scout out your favorite or standard go-to place for grabbing one. If it’s made right, with freshly baked buns and crispy bacon, it is absolutely delicious.
7. Beef Wellington
In a way, this is just a variation of a pie, but being such a classic, I count it as a completely separate dish in and of itself. Filet steak covered in pate and duxelles, wrapped in puff pastry and baked to perfection. A classic British must for any meat lover.
8. Ploughman’s Lunch
A typical English cold meal, with bread, cheese and pickle. Sometimes, there is also ham, hard-boiled eggs, or pickled onions. Though it’s traditionally served at midday, if you are up for it, try an ale with it.
9. Sticky Toffee Pudding
Being a desert-lover, this has to be one of my favorite British foods. It’s a steamed moist sponge cake drenched in liquid toffee, and often served with a side of ice cream. Forget about the calories, and just enjoy.
If you are concerned about the calories, maybe trifle is the better desert option for you. Granted, there are thick layers of custard and whipped cream in this traditional British dish, but there’s also fresh fruit and jelly. Nicely layered, with sponge cake in between to give it some firm.
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