Foods You HAVE to Try While in the UK
Though Britain isn’t exactly known for being a culinary capital of the world, we have more than enough dishes of our own worth sampling. Below are some of Britain’s best – and maybe one of its worst – dishes to try. But to find out what’s good and what’s not, you’ll have to find out for yourself…
Fish and Chips
Across mainland Europe, fish baked for hours alongside delicious sauces is eaten on Christmas Eve. Along the Meditteranean, fishermen and chefs have perfected seafood recipes, subtly balancing herbs and spices with the delicate flesh of local catches. In Italy, prawns and mussels are teased from their shells to be served along freshly made pasta.
In Britain, fish is lobbed into oil to deep-fry almost whole, the batter coating sometimes mixed with that other staple of British cuisine – beer. Wedges of potato are thrown into the same oil, before all is fished out and served on a plate or, more traditionally, wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper.
The result is a greasy, though delicious, dinner that’s perfect for all seasons. Let fish and chips warm you up on a cold winter’s day, or enjoy it outside in a park or pub’s beer garden alongside a cider in the summer.
Chicken Tikka Masala
Yes, we know what you’re thinking – curries are Asian, not British. Tikka Masala has to be Indian, no? Well, actually, chicken tikka masala was created in our fair isles themselves – or so anyone who’s been to Birmingham will tell you.
Wherever this tasty dish comes from, the delicate blend of herbs, tomato and spices – together with curry houses’ close proximity to pubs – has become one of the UK’s most popular dishes, cooked in homes and restaurants all across the country.
The creamy curry can also be served with fish, paneer or even mushrooms, making it adaptable for a wide variety of dietary requirements.
The best Masala is supposedly sold in Manchester’s Curry Mile or Birmingham’s Balti Triangle – but wherever you’re based in the UK, you have to go to an Indian or Bangladeshi restaurant and try what not might be Britain’s own, but certainly is Britain’s favourite, dish.
Pies and Pasties; Sausage Rolls
The heart and soul of British cuisine, pies and pasties are well-loved across the country. Though people familiar with American culture might think of pies as sweet treats, in the UK savoury pies are most popular, stuffed with steaks and peas, chicken and leeks, and many other combinations of meat and vegetables.
The crust around the filling may have originally been used to protect the goodness inside during long journeys and from dirt on workers’ hands, but pastry preparation has become an art in itself, with Cornwall claiming to serve amongst the best pastries in the world.
Cornish pasties can be found all over England, but each town and city will have its own local bakeries putting their stamp on the classic. Greggs, a popular bakery chain, modernised the steak bake and sausage roll by creating vegan alternatives which are worth picking up from your local high street.
The national dish of Scotland, haggis is best served in Edinburgh – though if you look hard enough, you’ll be able to find the dish in England, especially around Burns night in January.
A mince of sheep’s organs, onions, oats and spices traditionally enclosed in sheep’s stomach, haggis is definitely not for everyone, but those brave enough to try will find a surprisingly delicate food that can be served by itself or alongside ‘neeps and tatties’ (turnips and potatoes). Enjoy it best with a dram of whiskey on a cold night, or try to find some vegetarian haggis (which account for up to 40% of haggis sales).
Beans on Toast
Ah, truly a staple of British cuisine. Not just limited to student halls, this low-carb, high-protein icon is enjoyed up and down the country as breakfast, lunch, or an evening snack.
It helps that this is without a doubt the easiest food to cook in the world, too. Simply choose your favourite tin of beans soaked in tomato sauce (who said Brits aren’t culinary innovators?), warm it up, and toast some bread. To spice it up a bit, swap out the toast for a jacket potato, and drown the concoction in delicious cheese from the Cheddar gorge.
Mmm, truly the high point of British culture.
This post has been written by Matteo Everett