One great food that puts a smile on most visitors to the UK is the ‘Full English’ breakfast which can be enjoyed in cafes and hotels throughout the land. There are no precise culinary rules but a refined customer may indulge in some of the following; eggs, bacon, sausages, black pudding, beans or tomatoes, chips, hash browns, mushrooms and with toast or fried bread. In a good London Café, you may be offered a list like this to choose from, and then you should decide whether you want to work, rest or play afterwards! The breakfast of champions is one way of putting it!
Having now had time to read The Times, do the crossword puzzle and check out ever-ominous signs of rain, it’s surely lunchtime by now!
For many, ‘Fish and Chips’ is the quintessential British lunch food. It has to be said, when done well, it is a pure delight and compared to many fish restaurant options, is still good value. Whether you choose Cod, Haddock or other fish, it’s all in the quality of the batter. It should ideally be golden, light and flaky! One of the quirky things about traditional Fish ‘n’ Chips is that you can order some very curious sides dishes! Mushy peas, pickled onions, curried gravy are all possible. For the uninitiated it is a scary place and some of the options definitely divide the room. Pickled onions are indeed one of those.
Travelling to the North of England ‘Black Pudding’ is still a great type of sausage to try. It is a blood sausage made with oats, onions and well-seasoned. This can be served at breakfast but has now become quite a trendy retro side dish that will sit pretty even next to a fresh scallop! It’s great served with mashed potato and gravy too.
An English Trifle is a wonder to behold, with its old-fashioned sense of occasion. This classic dessert is layered with sweetened cream, fruit and at its base sponge cake. This can get quite boozy when you add a glug or two of good sweet sherry. More tea Vicar?
One of the best-named dishes in the whole of Great Britain and Northern Island is ‘Toad in the Hole’! This linguistic delight is a combination of Yorkshire Pudding batter and English sausages. Many would say it should be a large sausage like a Cumberland to make this dish special. Either way, if the batter is golden and the sausages are browned all you really need to do is pour on a rich gravy for a meal that shouts old-fashioned working-class invention! Highly recommended, hugely underrated.
One other hearty dish to try would be a ‘Steak and Kidney Pie. It is usually made with chuck beef, beef kidneys and a traditional pastry crust. This is usually served with a few side vegetables and potatoes.
Besides savoury, one of the school desserts that is great fun to order is, wait for it, ‘Spotted Dick’! The rather oddly named sweet is a steamed pudding made with suet and dried fruit. Quite delicious when warm, fresh and served with custard. Apparently, it was once re-named ‘Spotted Richard ‘in the Houses of Parliament so that the name was less likely to cause a scene!
In the cold, damp days of winter a dish like the ‘Lancashire Hot Pot’ is required. This is a one pot classic that combines leg of lamb, vegetables and thinly layered potatoes in a large casserole style of ceramic pot.
Finally, one more brilliantly named dish which is very traditional is ‘Bubble and Squeak’. This is just the leftovers from a typical Sunday lunch fried with plenty of mashed potato. The leftovers are supposed to be peas, carrots and maybe a little meat. Quite often it is made with a fried egg on top. Best eaten and served on a Monday!