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British Food That's Worth Trying

Updated on March 6, 2013
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Uh, British Food Sucks, Right?

One of the things people say about British cuisine is, well, it doesn't exist. In fact, I've read that in Hell, the chefs are English.

Ahem.

While there is certainly nothing to write home about about many of the things British people eat, and the roast and two veg with the roast dry and the vegetables mushy...uh, yeah. It exists. But there are also quite a few things the British make that are well worth trying.

Fish And Chips

Nothing is more British than a large serving of fish and chips. However, many American versions miss the point of this classic dish.

Real fish and chips is very simple. You take white ocean-going fish (most often cod, but as long as it's a saltwater fish that has white flesh and a mild flavor it is okay...plaice and haddock are common) and fry it in beer batter. Americans might consider trying catfish which, while not quite the same kind of fish, has a suitably 'plain' testure. Fish and chips is a way of making boring fish more interesting.

The 'chips' part should not be McDonald's style French fries (the most common mistake made by foreigners), but heavy, thick fries...the kind most Americans associate with truck stops.

Fish and chips is served with malt vinegar as a condiment. It is considered street food and was traditionally wrapped in yesterday's newspaper. That practice was made illegal due to the risk of lead from print ink getting in the food, so it is now wrapped in food safe paper (although some shops put a layer of newspaper outside just for tradition's sake).

Treacle Pudding

Treacle pudding. Mmm.

'Pudding' in England most often means any kind of dessert (black pudding being the exception - it means blood sausage).

Treacle pudding is another very simple British classic. It is a heavy sponge cake that is soaked in treacle (light molasses) and served hot, sometimes with thin custard. A common variant is toffee pudding, where the molasses are replaced by toffee sauce. You might also be offered chocolate pudding, often with fudge sauce, or 'spotted dick' - sponge pudding with raisins.

Steak And Kidney Pie

Traditionally served by pubs, steak and kidney pie is a rich, meat-filled pie. Of course, it's not an option for people who are put off by the idea of eating offal. Such individuals might prefer chicken pie instead.

Unlike American chicken pie, which is generally filled with chicken, peas and mushrooms, the British version has cream sauce and mushrooms.

Other pie variants are often found in pubs and are almost always worth a try.

Crumble

Crumble is similar to what Americans call a crisp, but the topping does not contain nuts...it's basically just heavy breadcrumbs.

It is made with various kinds of fruit, including apple, peach, etc. For a more authentic taste, try rhubarb crumble or gooseberry crumble. (In some parts of England, gooseberries are referred to as 'goosegogs'. Too bitter to eat raw, the berries are used in preserves and pie fillings).

Trifle

For special occasions, the English cook will make trifle. This is an amazing layered confection...the layers are, from bottom to top, sponge cake in jello, mixed fruit, custard and whipped cream. Often, this is repeated.

It's decadent and quite delicious, but be warned, cheaper versions are often made with that horrible squirted whipped cream stuff.

Sorry. Had to warn you.

Bangers and Mash

American kids love their burgers. British children are far more likely to harass their mothers for bangers and mash.

Bangers are mildly spiced link-style sausages. Mash, of course, is mashed potatoes. A second side dish is usually added, most commonly peas or baked beans, but any vegetable could be used. Bangers and mash is often served in pubs and most English people consider it to be comfort food.

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