A lot of people come over here with the impression that English food consists of grease, fat and more grease. This is not the case and you can find pretty much any kind of cuisine throughout the country, from deep fried Mars bars in Scotland to Cornish Cream Teas!
Mealtimes in Britain are quite varied. Breakfast is normally the first meal of the day, which is eaten before going to work or class. Most people tend to eat a light breakfast, consisting of cereal or toast. Alternatively, if you are feeling adventurous you could try a “full English” The definition of a full English breakfast varies from where you come from but includes something along the lines of sausages, bacon, eggs (normally fried) mushrooms, baked beans and tomatoes, plus toast and tea.
You may also find people adding black pudding, hash browns or fried bread, depending on where they come from.
Traditionally the Brits take a tea break, called elevenses, at around 11.00am. They would normally have a cup of tea and a biscuit. Lunchtime is anywhere between 12 and 2. Most people will eat a sandwich. Popular fillings include cheese and pickle, ham, egg mayonnaise, tuna and chicken. Some people go to the pub for a pub lunch.
You can find things such as a ploughman’s, or a soup and a sandwich. At the weekend, particularly on a Sunday people will have a Sunday lunch, where they sit down together as a family. Normally they would have a joint of meat, with potatoes and veg. The sauce is very important. Most meats are served with gravy, but lamb is often served with mint sauce, beef with horseradish sauce, and turkey with cranberry. In the early afternoon people sometimes have tea, which is usually between about 3 and 5pm. People may drink tea, and often eat biscuits cakes or savoury foods such as sandwiches, crumpets, English muffins or tea-cakes. Occasionally people may have a full afternoon tea or a cream tea, which includes a scone with jam and cream as well as a selection of sandwiches and cakes. If you want to have a traditional English tea when you are in the UK then somewhere like Claridges serve an excellent spread. For a budget version of afternoon tea try Bea’s of Bloomsbury and if you really want something different then try the Pret a Portea at the Berkley. Miu Miu biscuits, and Gucci cakes anyone?
Dinner is eaten anytime between 6 and 8.00pm. Traditionally the meal would consist of meat and 2 veg. Now Britain has very varied taste, and many people eat in front of the TV, or get a take-away. One of Britain’s most popular dish is curry. Dinner is sometimes followed by dessert, or pudding, which would be something sweet such as trifle or ice-cream. Eating out can be a little expensive, and you might want to consider using a supermarket to buy basic provisions. For vegetarians – most food in restaurants as well as supermarkets is clearly labelled as to whether or not it is safe for vegetarian consumption. There are a number of discount cards you can obtain which give you special rates and discounts on eating out including the Tastecard which comes highly recommended.
Some foods that you might encounter, and like to try, are listed below:
The traditional English breakfast is not really eaten very much anymore, but you may be offered this at hotels, or see it on menus. It normally consists of sausage, bacon, fried eggs, mushroom and tomato. You may also see black pudding on the side.
traditionally a farmers lunch but now popular in pubs and restaurants. Consists of cheese, bread, Branston pickle, and maybe a pork pie.
Previously it was always the custom for families to have a large meal at lunchtime on Sundays after Church. This has changed slightly but the general idea is still the same. It normally consists of roast meat (pork, beef or lamb) Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, peas and carrots, all covered with gravy.
Fish and Chips
Fish deep fried in batter, with proper chips are one of the firm favorites in the UK. You will see “fish and chips” advertised everywhere but the best are found in the dedicated fish and chip shops. You can also find things such as pickled onions, sausage in batter and various meat pies.
Minced beef or lamb sometimes in gravy topped with mashed potato and baked in the oven
Steak and Kidney pudding
Steak and kidney in thick gravy encased in a suet pudding Cornish pasty – pastry case stuffed with meat and folded over
savoury batter pudding made with eggs, flour and milk
Toad in the Hole
Yorkshire pudding with sausages baked into it
Bubble and Squeak
patties made with leftover cabbage, potatoes and vegetables and then fried
Sausage made from blood and cows fat
Traditional Scottish dish made with sheep’s stomach
minced sausage in a light pastry case
heavy meat pie, often eaten at picnics
hard-boiled egg wrapped in minced pork and breadcrumbs
Sweet foods (desserts or puddings)
sponge pudding topped with treacle and steamed
2 sponge cakes layered with jam
Bread and butter pudding
made with left over or stale bread, which is buttered, soaked with milk and then raisins and sugar are added. It is then baked and served hot.
pastry cases enclosing a sweet mix of dried fruits
Sponge pudding filled with raisins
stewed fruit topped with a crumble mix made out of butter, flour, sugar and water
sponge biscuits, jelly and fruit topped with custard and whipped cream. Often contains sherry
Scones with jam and clotted cream normally served with other small cakes and possibly sandwiches