Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published October 6th 2012
A full course British menu
Don't worry, I'm not suggesting turning cannibal for a week. We Brits probably don't taste that great anyway.
What do you think of when you hear mention of British cuisine? Over the years our nation has become truly multi-cultural, which brings great diversity to the country, particularly in the types of food we eat. We have restaurants of every kind: Italian, Chinese, Indian, etc, etc, and I couldn't be happier about it. I love curries, and noodles and all things like that. But what has happened to our British meals? They're definitely still there, no doubt about it, but they have kind of become lost in a sea (or a plate) of all the other types of cuisines along the way. So here's a look at some of the dishes Brits are most well known for. See if you can meet the challenge and eat like a Brit for a week.
N.B. You may go up a waist size.
The Full Breakfast - a traditional weekend indulgence. After a long, hard week, isn't it nice to lay in and not worry about having to do anything? Once you finally rise, saunter down stairs in your dressing gown, pour a glass of orange juice and treat yourself to a protein rich, high fat breakfast. Each region in Britain has its own version of the full breakfast; in Wales it's usually laver bread and fried cockles, in Scotland black pudding with tattie scones are popular. The most well known though is the traditional Full English Breakfast: a complete fatty fry up of sausages, bacon, eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms, all piled under a tin of Heinz baked beans.
If you cant handle a full fry up, then you can always go half way. Beans on toast or a boiled egg and soldiers will fill you up, but not make your tum feel like bursting.
Oats - Popular oat based breakfasts include porridge, cereal, and muesli. They may seem modest to a full English, but are a much healthier option and release energy slowly throughout the day.
Pub Grub - Go down to the pub with your mates, order a pint and while your watching the footy, why not have a bacon butty? I love a good old bacon butty; I've made my own special variety. The sound of it makes other people cringe, but honestly, it tastes wonderful. Toast your bread, grill your bacon, plop your knife in the Marmite jar and spread it thickly. Yum.
Or if you are all baconed out by your big breakfast, why not try a crisp sarnie? Make sure it's a traditional British flavour - salt & vinegar or cheese & onion is best.
Afternoon Tea - If you are looking for something more sophisticated, visit your favourite cafe and share an afternoon tea with your friends: Dainty finger sandwiches cut into triangles, scones with clotted cream or strawberry jam, and of course, a very English pot of tea.
Sunday Roast - Family night. Everyone gathers round the table for a delicious meal of roast potatoes, Yorkshire Pudding, steamed veg, and a slow cooked roast doused in gravy. It is thought that Sunday roasts started in Yorkshire, when families would put a cut of meat in the oven before going to church. The meat would cook slowly so that buy the time church was over, the meat would be ready. There are many choices of meat for a roast dinner, the most usual being beef, chicken or lamb. When we have roast dinner at home, it is mutton. A shoulder goes in the oven over night at a very low temperature, and then by the next evening it is so tender that it just falls off the bone.
Takeaway - You're coming home from work, it's late, and you can't be bothered to cook. As you get off the tube, you see a row of takeaways on the street opposite. Which to go for? How about fish & chips? A big battered cod with a portion of chunky chips always goes down a treat in this house, especially when it's accompanied by a good helping of mushy peas. Then of course there is always a chicken tikka masala. Although you'll find this popular curry at an Indian takeaway, its roots are entirely British, and is thought to have been invented in Glasgow. There are so many varieties of chicken tikka that the actual only common factor is the chicken itself.
Leftovers - They don't sound appetising, but leftovers can make some delicious meals, save money, and stop food being wasted. There is one dish using left overs that is made all across UK. The Irish call it colcannon, the Scots rumplethumbs, and the English call it bubble and squeak. The basic ingredients are mashed potato and cabbage, then the rest comes down to whatever vegetables you need using up. Another way to use up any leftovers is to make a stew or casserole. Just dump all your meat and vegetables into a pot, season, add stock, and allow to simmer.
Eton Mess - Served at Eton College after an oh so terribly English game of cricket, Eton Mess is a perfect summer dessert made with strawberries, meringue, and cream. Fruity, crunchy, and perfect for a barbecue. Yeah, it's a little late in the year for Eton Mess now, but it is something to look forward to next year.
Steamed Pudding - There's nothing like a traditional steamed pudding in the winter time. A good spotted dick with custard is sure to warm you up, and a sticky toffee pudding will appeal to anyone with a sweet tooth.
Rice Pudding - One of my personal favourites. Rice pudding is a dessert made all around the world, but the recipes and ingredients vary widely in each country. The earliest known reference to rice pudding in the UK is 1615, and consisted of pudding rice, milk, cream, and sugar. When we have rice pudding at home, we don't use cream; we like it baked plain and simple in the oven so that it forms a nice brown skin.
So there's a mini guide on how to eat British for a week. As you can see, we Brits like hearty comfort food. Our dishes are meaty, our puds starchy, and if you stuck to this diet it wouldn't take long to put on the pounds. No wonder we're such a podgy nation.
Ireland is NOT part of the UK. You can not refer to Irish people as 'We Brits.' It is offensive and misleading. Please use the accurate and accepted terms, the UK and Ireland or Britain and Ireland. The Nation of Ireland - like France - is a Republic with a President. Only the North (6 counties out of 32 remain part of the UK). Why do only you "Brits" have trouble understanding this?