British cuisine is exactly my type of fare- tasty, hearty, historically interesting, and best served with a pint of ale. Most of my favourite foods are of British origin, and I am delighted that there has been a recent resurgence of interest in traditional British food. I enjoy most British dishes, although a few (like jellied eels or haggis) I am in no rush to try. Here is a compilation of my favourite British foods, because British cuisine really is the best!
Fried bread makes me actually want to get up early on Sunday mornings. That alone should be ample evidence of its brilliance, since sleep is one of my favourite things, particularly after playing hockey as I do until 11 pm on Saturday night! Fried bread really is one of my joys in life- greasy and crispy with a subtle taste of bacon, it starts my Sundays off right. I usually eat it plain but it is also fantastic with bacon and ketchup. Although it is often part of a Full English breakfast, I’m afraid that I find it too filling to eat in combination with so much other food!
Photo of breakfast (fried bread on right): from http://www.flickr.com/photos/loopzilla/97111082. Attributed to LoopZilla.
Fry-Up or Full English
Simply put, a Full English is a masterpiece and eating a Full English is a superhuman accomplishment! The traditional fry-up is certainly not healthy in any way, but it is absolutely delicious. Comprised of any combination of baked beans, bacon, sausages, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, and fried bread or toast (perhaps with Marmite), this is a mammoth meal. Eating it will make one feel full for the rest of the day at the very least, but not too full to enjoy a pint or two later on in the pub!
Photo of Full English breakfast: from Wikimedia Commons. Attributed to Jrv73.
Steak and Kidney Pie
I understand that many people are not fans of organ meat, but I love a good steak and kidney pie! This is a very British dish, and the pie is filled with a gorgeous mixture of chopped kidney, beef, and thick gravy, perhaps with some onions or vegetables for extra flavour. My family occasionally has homemade “S & K”, as the dish is colloquially known, and its consumption takes me back to the confines of a cosy rural pub- perfect!
Photo of steak and kidney pie: from Wikimedia Commons. Attributed to Hellahulla.
Bangers and Mash
Bangers are sausages and mash is mashed potato- a simple enough premise, but when drenched in rich gravy and complemented with mushy peas, this is one of the most comforting meals imaginable. I have had many meals of bangers and mash, some of them in pubs and some at home, but this is always a sound choice and a favourite dish of mine.
Photo of bangers and mash: from Wikimedia Commons. Attributed to Qwerty Binary.
Fish and Chips
What list of British food would be complete without a mention of fish and chips? This mention is, however, greatly merited- fish and chips is a legendary national dish of the United Kingdom and is enjoyed year-round from Whitby to Cornwall to Norfolk! The Golden Hind in Marylebone is a particularly good purveyor of traditional fish and chips in London. I would certainly recommend it, having dined there in May 2012. The fish was delicious, the chips thick and luscious, and the mushy peas heavenly. The Old Bell Tavern on Fleet Street is another great bet for fish and chips- in December of last year I was there enjoying a plate of fish and chips and a pint of Guinness! This pub has a fantastic, old-world atmosphere which adds to the experience. Unfortunately, I have not as of yet eaten fish and chips from the coast- definitely a must-do on my next trip to Britain.
Photo of fish and chips: from http://www.andrewdunnphoto.com via Wikimedia Commons. Attributed to Andrew Dunn.
Traditionally the accompaniment to a Sunday roast, Yorkshire pudding is a fabulously light and airy side which makes any meal feel British. My dad makes wonderful Yorkshire puddings, which are unbeatable for soaking up the thick gravy left over from a hearty meal!
Photo of Yorkshire puddings: from http://flickr.com/photos/49502976207@N01/77683987 via Wikimedia Commons. Attributed to stef yau.
Crumpets are unique and quite frankly delightful- my family has such a fondness for them that we named our dog “Crumpet”! Best eaten for breakfast or at teatime, crumpets are fascinating to look at; being porous and light but still sturdy when bitten into. I generally eat crumpets with butter and jam or honey, but they are also delicious spread with peanut butter. Peanut butter is not, of course, a British condiment- I suppose that peanut butter on crumpets is one area where my Canadian inclinations manifest themselves!
Photo of crumpet: from Wikimedia Commons. Attributed to LoopZilla.
This hearty concoction is a staple of my diet in Britain! Originally made in Cornwall for tin miners, Cornish pasties are filling and wholesome and incredibly delicious. Traditional pasties are filled with beef, potato, onion, and swede, although today there are numerous variations. Cheese and onion is a favourite of mine, and pork and apple is another lovely combination. I am also told that lamb and mint pasties are beautiful- but since seeing so many adorable little lambs on a trip to England seven years ago, I refrain from eating lamb, so I wouldn’t know!
London has many pasty shops, both on the high street and at convenient locations in major train or Tube stations, so a quick and tasty meal is never far away. My fondest routine in London is picking up a Starbucks coffee and a pasty for breakfast before facing the morning rush.
Photo of Cornish pasty: from Wikimedia Commons. Attributed to David Johnson.
Fuller’s London Pride
In my opinion, this is the best British beer out there. I absolutely love it, and weekends when there is a can of London Pride in my refrigerator are inestimably happier than a normal weekend. Fuller’s London Pride is a beautiful, smooth bitter with a taste that is not too sharp, but just right.
Photo of Fuller’s London Pride: from Wikimedia Commons. Attributed to LeeKeoma.
Although it is a lot of work, making (and subsequently eating) a traditional Christmas pud is an important Christmas ritual for me. I usually use Captain Morgan rum in my Christmas puddings, because it is a good rum and because through my granddad, I am related to the Morgan family of Wales and Captain Henry Morgan. Prior to last Christmas, I found a recipe for the famous Ritz Hotel’s Christmas pudding- but unfortunately, it called for about seven different kinds of alcohol and likely would have cost me $300 to make! Christmas pud, with its rich and heavy texture and alcoholic taste, is not for everyone, but I enjoy it every year and it is a true mark of Christmas.
Photo of Christmas pudding: from Flickr via Wikimedia Commons. Attributed to Matt Riggott.
A food that my family discovered and fell in love with several years ago, Welsh cakes are a traditional Welsh snack originally cooked on a bakestone. Round and flat with currants or raisins on the inside and caster sugar on the outside, Welsh cakes are scrumptious and addictive! We always used to purchase them in packs of six from Marks and Spencer, and now I also make them at home without too much trouble. They are an ideal snack, being manageable in size and not too sweet, and they were the perfect accompaniment to my trip through Snowdonia three years ago.
Photo of Welsh cakes: from http://flickr.com/photo/28576278@N03/3316090246. Attributed to zingyyellow…wish I could bend space/time
I will be a very happy girl when it is finally strawberry season again and I can eat some Eton Mess! Eton Mess is a dream dessert, evoking memories of garden parties with friends and a glass of Pimm’s English Style in the summer sunshine. It is fairly straightforward to make, comprised of meringue and chopped strawberries mixed with whipped cream and sugar. Every person for whom I have made Eton Mess adores it, and it is a staple of my summer entertainment menu. I also love the apparent story behind its creation- it is said that Eton Mess came about when a dog sat on a picnic basket containing strawberries and cream, thus squashing them together and creating this magnificent concoction!
Photo of Eton Mess: from http://nicelyseasoned.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/photo-29-07-2011-21-21-155.jpeg. Attributed to Jennifer Lyons.
Every British child must, at some point, have had a Jammie Dodger. These delightful biscuits first came to my attention through their mention in Doctor Who– as a result, I tried them and am now hooked. Jammie Dodgers are similar (in some ways) to the Canadian Peek Freans Fruit Crème, but they lack the creamy frosting and pronounced sugary taste of the latter. This makes for a much more pleasant biscuit in my opinion, because Jammie Dodgers do not make me feel guilty in the way that more sugary treats do! Jammie Dodgers are lovely with tea, and the toffee variety is also delicious. Thank goodness for the British food shop in my city- without it, I would have nowhere to buy Jammie Dodgers!
Photo of Jammie Dodger: from Wikimedia Commons. Attributed to Paul Hurst.
I cannot imagine anything more comforting and warming than a good old cuppa. I probably drink 3-4 cups of tea every day, and tea always calms me and reminds me of England. There are several kinds of tea which qualify as favourites of mine- I like original Yorkshire Tea, English Breakfast, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, and green tea. And last December while in London, I stopped off at Fortnum and Mason and treated myself to a tin of their tea. Fortnum and Mason is an unparalleled destination for tea, and I spent about forty minutes contentedly browsing their tea section! Finally I came away with their special Jubilee blend, which was made for Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Now that is a wonderful souvenir!
Photo of tea in teacup: from Wikimedia Commons. Attributed to Miya.
As you can see, British food is beginning to shake its reputation of staid, bland heaviness. British food is actually quite tasty, and often incorporates several food groups into one dish. This cuisine, while still built on wholesome and hearty dishes, also has many options which are light, seasonal, and appealing even to people not from Britain. It is quite fortuitous for me that I am both British and such an enthusiastic fan of British cuisine! I hope that this post will inspire others to try a British dish that they have not had before- because if you haven’t eaten British food, you really don’t know what you’re missing!