English cuisine is as much part of the country’s heritage as are castles and kings and has its own unique assortment of recipes that have been handed down through the generations.
BreakfastUnlike with many European countries, the English love to start the day with a big breakfast that includes bacon, eggs, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and black pudding. Of course, this is not a daily treat; many people are happy with just toast and marmalade and a cup of tea or coffee.
LunchIn most cases the traditional lunch in England is a packed lunch. One of the more popular versions of this is the Ploughman’s lunch, which consists of some combination of bread, cheese, an apple or some other fruit, a vegetable, and sometimes pickles.
Tea TimeTrade between England and East Asian countries in the 17th and 18th centuries brought about the popularity of tea, first as a preferred beverage of royalty and gradually the entire country. Eventually, the English devoted a time in the afternoon between 3:00 and 4:00 for a cup of tea. Often times it is a social event where cucumber or other tea sandwiches, pastries, cakes and cookies are served.
DinnerMost British people will admit that there is nothing too exciting about their dinners, which usually consist of meat and two veggies (one of which is usually potatoes). Although the traditional “meat and potatoes” is common in many countries, there are some dishes that are truly English such as Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding, Shepherd’s Pie, Fish and Chips, Sausage Rolls, and Steak and Kidney Pie.
DessertMany of the British desserts involve fresh fruit such as raspberries or strawberries, custard, cream, and cakes. Many of the berries found in England are very sweet and luscious, so there is a large appreciation for desserts like trifle or strawberries and cream.
Some Popular English Dishes
Bangers and MashSausage and mashed potatoes. Many times Cumberland sausage (a regional specialty is used)
Black PuddingBlack pudding is a thick sausage made with blood and fat.
Bread and ButterIt is common to see a plate of bread and butter on the table when eating in England. It is used to soak up the leftover gravy on your plate. British bread is delicious when it is bought fresh.
Cornish PastiesCornish pasties are a traditional meal from the West Country of England. Originally it was an easy meal for farmers to take to work with them. It is composed of rump steak or beef along with onions, carrots and potatoes baked into a pastry pocket.
Fish and Chips Fish and chips (French fries) are just as popular to the English as pizza is to Americans. The fish usually consists of halibut or cod and is traditionally soaked in vinegar, as are the chips.
Roast Beef and Yorkshire PuddingThis is England’s traditional Sunday lunch, which is a family affair. Yorkshire Pudding is a batter made with flour, milk and eggs and is baked in the oven in the same pan with the meat.
Shepherd’s Pie or Cottage Pie Shepherd’s pie is made with seasoned lamb, carrots, and onions in gravy covered with mashed potatoes. If beef is used in place of lamb, then it is referred to as cottage pie.
Steak and Kidney Pie This popular dish is made with steak and kidney in gravy encased in a pastry crust.
Treacle Pudding A popular winter dessert, Treacle pudding is a steamed pudding with a syrup topping.
Cheese England is known for its excellent and pungent cheeses. Some famous varieties include Cheddar, Stilton, Red Leicester, Cheshire and Double Gloucester.
The best way to sample English cooking is not by going to the expensive restaurants, but by going to the pubs. The term “pub” is short for public house, which historically is where people of the town would gather in a social environment. Today in most English cities, pubs are still usually frequented by locals and provide the best home-style cooked meals. Pubs also provide a wealth of ales, porters, stouts, ciders and other alcoholic beverages that are true to English heritage. In most cases, the older the pub, the more interesting and the better the atmosphere. It is quite common to find a pub that is small with only a few tables, a piano, a dartboard, a complimentary basket of potato fries on the bar, and a friendly dog sleeping by a roaring fireplace. Owners try very hard to provide a home-like environment for their customers. In the older cities in the countryside, the buildings are centuries old and are really quite charming.