When most travelers head to England, they’re anxiously anticipating the sights of London, the magic of Stonehenge, or the Somerset countryside. Scotland and Northern Ireland evoke images of the highlands, Giants Causeway, and Loch Ness Lake. Pub ales and fine whiskey tastings are usually on the to-do list. However, the food in the United Kingdom is not something most visitors expect to write home about. It is true that British fare does not enjoy the popularity of many other countries’ cuisines. This might be due to the unique ingredients in some of its signature meals. However, for an adventurous foodie, there are a few dishes that must be tried at least once. And for more traditional tasters, there are some delicious choices as well.
Full English Breakfast
Also known as just the “Full English” or “fry-up”, this is a morning meal done right. Forget about cereal; traditional breakfast fare such as eggs, sausage, and bacon are included in the dish along with baked beans and bubble and squeak. There are variations of the dish around Britain, but the bottom line: it is a hearty and delicious way to start your day.
Bubble and squeak
Often eaten as a classic dish of leftovers after a holiday meal, bubble and squeak typically consists of mashed potato and cooked cabbage mixed with onions and butter. It often contains beef or another meat, and other versions include other leftovers. The mixture is shaped into patties and fried, and makes a tasty comfort meal or side dish.
A classic pub food, the name of this dish pretty much says it all. Meat pies are usually seasoned steak stuffed in a buttery crust. Other meats are substituted in different versions, but in every case, it will be mixed with a savory blend of herbs and spices and baked to perfection.
Fish n’ Chips
Arguably one of the best-known comfort meals of British cuisine, fish and chips can be ordered in every corner of London. The dish typically consists of cod or haddock, which is battered and fried, cut into strips, and served with tartar sauce for dipping. The side of chips are sliced and fried potatoes.
Okay, so this one is not for everybody. In fact, this dish is so controversial the U.S. stopped importing it in 1971, due to a ban on any food including animal lungs. But if the idea of sheep’s organs makes your mouth water, this traditional dish must be sampled on a trip to Scotland. The dish combines sheep’s lungs, liver, and heart with beef or mutton fat. It is flavored with onion, cayenne pepper, and other spices, then boiled. Haggis remains a popular dish in the UK due to its meaty and savory taste.
Also known as blood pudding, this dish is pork’s blood (or sheep’s blood) mixed with mutton fat and oats. Black pudding shares similarities with haggis but has a different texture and its own distinct taste. Flavored with onion, herbs, and spices, the dish can be boiled, grilled, or fried. It is served in patties or crumbled and mixed with other dishes. Many people are turned off by the ingredients, but if you are an adventurous eater you are sure to enjoy black pudding’s unique flavor.