When staying in the UK, foreign visitors can enjoy a wide variety of both national and international cuisines. Below is a general account of what to expect when eating in the United Kingdom.
When compared with neighbouring continentals, the English are not exactly famed for their love of food or the social trappings that go with it. Families today rarely eat together but instead consume junk food, often in front of the television; the British diet in increasing numbers of families, though not all, consists mainly of salty or sweet snack foods – chips, crisps, chocolate bars, ready-meals, microwave pizzas and other such delights!
Three main meals a day:
Breakfast – between 08:00 hrs and 09:00 hrs
Lunch (sometimes called dinner) – light meal or snack between 12:00 hrs and 13:30 hrs
Dinner (sometimes called supper or tea) – main meal of the day between 18:30 hrs and 20:00 hrs
On Sundays the main meal of the day is often eaten at around 13:00 hrs instead of in the evening. This meal often consists of roast meat, Yorkshire pudding and two kinds of vegetables.
Most overseas visitors bracket English breakfast as the typical version of eggs, bacon, sausages, fried bread, mushrooms and baked beans, all accompanied with a cup of tea or coffee. Today, however, a typical breakfast on a week day in the UK is normally a bowl of cereal, a slice of toast, orange juice and tea or coffee.
During the week, due to a lifestyle of often working a long distance from home, many people have a “packed lunch” or sandwiches for lunch, with a packet of crisps, fruit and a drink.
Sunday Lunch is a different affair and is a time when the family sits together for a traditional Sunday roast. This consists of roast meat, tow different kinds of vegetables, always including roast potatoes with Yorkshire Pudding, a flour based batter cooked in the oven. The most commonly eaten joints of meat are beef, lamb or pork, while chicken is also popular. Beef is accompanied by white horseradish sauce, pork by apple sauce and lamb is eaten with green mint sauce. Gravy is then poured over the meat.
Traditionally dinner was similar to Sunday Lunch but today this is rarely eaten on ordinary days. Today most people in Britain prefer curry, rice or pasta for dinner. Fresh vegetables grown in England are also popular, such as peas, carrots, cabbage, onions and potatoes.
England’s rich cultural mix has brought about a huge range of food options and today the British are happily exposing their taste buds to flavours and experiences from many far-flung corners of the world. Needless to say, some traditional foods have remained English favourites:
Perhaps the most famous English food, after the Sunday Roast beef, fish can be either cod, haddock or plaice and is deep fried in flour batter, then served with chips. This is England’s traditional take-away meal although today is rates as highly as the US version of Burger and Chips. Fish and chip shops are either take-away shops or have adjoining informal restaurant facilities.
A favourite dinner made from Yorkshire Pudding (batter of eggs, milk and flour baked in the oven), with sausages placed inside the batter before cooking.
Pastry pie filled with steak, lamb kidneys and gravy, baked in the oven. This is accompanied with chips and fresh vegetables.
Typical of Cornwall in South West England, these are individual pastry pies filled with vegetables and pieces of meat, which are eaten hot or cold and often accompanied by chips and salad. Cornish Pasties would normally be eaten at lunchtime.
A “pie” made with minced lamb and onions with light gravy, topped with mashed potato and baked in the oven.
The same as Shepherds’ pie but made with beef instead of lamb.
Traditionally to feed the farm workers ploughing the fields, the Ploughmans’ Lunch consists of a wedge of cheese (often cheddar or blue stilton), a pickled onion, and a hunk of bread.
Traditional Lancashire stew of meet and vegetables, topped with sliced potatoes.
Made from cold vegetables that have been left over from a previous meal, often the Sunday roast. Any left-over meat is also added and all is fried together in a pan with mashed potato until the mixture is browned on both sides.
A traditional rich cake made with dried fruits and marmalade; a centre pied on many Welsh tea tables.
Unleavened griddle cakes, made with dried fruits and mixed spice.
Welsh-style cheese on toast.
Welsh lamb has a delicate flavour, developed through free-range farming on natural pastures.
A rich stew made with bacon, Welsh lamb scraps and vegetables, including the Welsh emblem, the leek.
Wood-smoked haddock from the east coast fishing town of Arbroath.
Oatcakes baked on a griddle.
A rich, thick stock made by boiling mutton, beef, marrow-bone and a variety of vegetables.
Rich, dark coloured fruit cake.
White cheese made from slightly soured milk and rolled in oats.
A traditional sweetbread made from sheep’s offal.
Boiled oatmeal served thick with the addition of milk and sugar.
Potatoes form a staple part of the Irish diet and are often served with tender lamb-based stews. Bacon and cabbage are commonly used in Irish cuisine and, due to an abundance of lush green meadows and fresh waters, other favourites include: smoked herring and salmon, apple pies, soda breads, buttermilk and creamy butter.
A dish of fried bacon, eggs, sausages, fried soda bread and potato bread with tomatoes. Accompaniments include mushrooms and bread or pancakes.
A traditional Irish potato pancake. The most popular version consists of finely grated, raw potato and mashed potato with flour, baking soda, buttermilk and egg.
Full Irish breakfast, consisting of bacon, black pudding, sausages, soda bread and boxty.
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