Before studying abroad, I was told by people who have lived here for extended periods of time that British food is sub-par. I don’t know if being in England creates a placebo effect of me thinking the food tastes better when it doesn’t really, but it’s been only three weeks and I’ve already had some of the best meals of my life. Here are some of my top picks (so far) of foods that are unique to this part of Western Europe, or England specifically.
You may think the British aren’t as crazy about tea as you are told they are, but do not be mistaken: tea is the center point of British culture. Believe it or not, it has the power to make or break relationships. Making someone tea is a way into someone’s personal life or beginning a friendship with them. Making the boss a good cup of tea at work might even have the ability to get you that promotion at work.
Pronounced “pass-tee,” this tasty pastry has made is mark as a staple meal throughout the country. Though they come in many varieties, the Cornish pasty is probably the favorite. Just as a calzone is a wrapped up version of a pizza, so is a pasty is a pastry wrapped pot pie. These are perfect to warm you on cold rainy days or for a portable snack to walk around with as you explore the city.
Fish and Chips
Though this is third on my list, it is probably the first thing most people think of when they hear “England” and “food” together in the same sentence. This dish is famous for very good reason, and is far from overrated (in my opinion – but it also depends where you get the fish and chips from). This is typically a battered and fried Cod or Haddock, equipped with the world’s best tartar sauce and fries. Fries are what the Brits call chips, which are quite different from the American chips, which the British call ‘crisps’.
These also usually accompany a dish of fish and chips. There is no unanimous opinion on these, and I have found that people are quite split on whether or not mushy peas taste good. Personally, I like them and think of them as another kind of mashed potatoes, as the main basic ingredients of butter, salt, and milk are shared between the two.
Bangers and Mash
Sausage and mashed potatoes – there is not much more to say here other than they are delicious and make a great cheap meal for the average student/young person.
A ‘full’ English breakfast includes almost everything available on the breakfast menu, hence, the word ‘full.’ Though all the regular items you would expect to be there are all there – bacon, eggs, sausage, potatoes, toast – this also includes fried mushrooms, fried tomatoes, spam, beans, and pudding. These are commonly enjoyed in local pubs on a weekend morning.
This is the traditional ‘Sunday roast’ on a weekend here in England. A Beef Wellington is made of a thick filet of roast beef, seasoned with herbs and puréed mushrooms, and wrapped in a delicious croissant-like pastry crust. My mom makes this especially for Christmas dinner once a year, but here it is considered a frequently common occurrence. I would say this is my favorite of all foods mentioned in this post, but I’ll be completely honest, I really can’t decide on just one.