When you think of British food it’s usually pork pies, bangers ‘n’ mash and fish and chips that come to mind. While these are popular and traditional British dishes, there are others that are far more interesting, historical or downright weird.
You should definitely give theses seven British foods a try while you live in the UK:
1. Bubble and squeak
This dish dates back as far as 1806 and consists of shallow-fried vegetables leftover from a roast dinner. It could include potato, brussels sprouts, carrots, peas, cabbage or any other remaining vegetables.
The dish is thought to have been named after the sounds made when the vegetables are frying and being moved around in the pan.
2. Jellied eels
These are bits of eel in fish-flavoured jelly with malt vinegar on top. In the 18th Century the Thames was so polluted and foul that the only fish that could survive in it was the eel. This led to many eel-based recipes being devised by London’s poor communities.
The meat had to be smoked or preserved in jelly as refrigeration wasn’t available. These days it has ascended from its humble roots to become a delicacy.
3. Black pudding
Black pudding is a type of sausage made from pork blood, meat and/or fat, and bread or oatmeal. It can be fried, baked, grilled or boiled and eaten hot or cold.
Legend has it the dish was invented in the 14th Century by two Bavarian butchers who were drunk on Absinthe. However, the first written reference to black pudding appeared as early as 800 BC in Homer’s classic, The Odyssey. In it he wrote: “As when a man besides a great fire has filled a sausage with fat and blood and turns it this way and that and is very eager to get it quickly roasted…”
4. Scotch eggs
Scotch eggs are a popular picnic food consisting of a boiled egg wrapped in pork sausage meat, encased in breadcrumbs and deep fried or baked.
The London department store Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented the Scotch egg at its Piccadilly headquarters in 1738. It was intended to be a traveller’s snack for their most affluent customers and enterprising staff are said to have come up with the idea of this easy-to-hold boiled egg treat as a way of eliminating eggy odours in their food hampers.
5. The Bedfordshire clanger
The Bedfordshire Clanger is a main meal and dessert in one. This sweet and savoury dish originated in the county of Bedfordshire and is essentially an elongated suet pudding.
One half has a savoury (often gammon and vegetable) filling, while the other half is sweet and contains poached pear, other fruit or simply jam.
The story goes that the women of Bedfordshire devised this dish as an easy two-in-one midday meal for their husbands who worked in agriculture.
Haggis is a savoury pudding made from a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs. The organs are minced with onion, oatmeal, suet and spices and encased in the animal’s stomach or (nowadays) an artificial casing.
The name Haggis (Hawgs or Hagese) was first used in England in the 1400s. The dish has been considered a traditional Scottish dish since 1787 when famous Scot poet Robert Burns published his poem: Address to a Haggis.
7. Stargazey Pie
The Stargazey pie is a true oddity. This pilchard, potato and egg filled pastry comes complete with an arrangement of fish heads that poke up through the crust as if gazing at the stars.
Legend has it that Tom Bawcock, a fisherman from the village of Mousehole, once saved his fellow villagers from starvation by taking to the rough seas to catch some fish. He brought in a great haul, which were all baked into a massive pie. The fish heads poked out of the pie to prove to the hungry villagers that there was a feast of fish awaiting them.
To this day, the Tom Bawcock’s Eve festival is held on the 23rd of December in Mousehole.
Thinking of moving to the UK? Don’t worry, it is home to some of the world’s best restaurants and you will never be forced to choose between jellied eels and haggis.
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