Every country has it’s own traditional foods but the differences among English speaking countries is a lot less defined. It makes sense that there is perhaps a Norwegian dish that people in Australia have never some across but with the close relationship between the UK and the US it is often surprising to see there are large gaps in understanding. Companies like www.perfectlyspoken.com exist solely for people wishing to learn English online but many of these people will be learning a great deal from US culture and yet heading to the UK or working with English people. British food is not something that is particularly celebrated around the world as this article shows - http://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/world-best-food-cultures/index.html but there are some very popular food types that it is worth knowing about.
It was actually quite a recent realisation that people in the US specifically had never heard of a sausage roll. This snack is popular across the whole of the UK and certainly counts as a national institution. It is basically sausage meat wrapped in puff pastry. It is eaten at any time of the day as a snack on the go and available from most bakeries.
When most Brits actually stop and think about a Scotch Egg they can understand why it doesn’t seem to travel well. It is an egg wrapped in sausage meat and bread crumbs which is deep fried. The egg is normally hard cooked but there is a large movement of people that serve these as part of the meal with the egg just runny. Normally these are sold as snacks or as part of a picnic. Scotch Eggs have nothing to do with Scotland and were actually invented for rich people by the department store Fortnum & Mason some 300 years ago.
This video explains more:-
To say this meaty pie causes a passionate reaction is an understatement. The Cornish people are deeply proud of them and do not like other people making them. It is in fact illegal to call any a Cornish pasty that was not made in the county. Essentially it is a meat and potato pie. However it is a half moon shape with a crust running along the top. Originally these were used as a meal in itself for Cornish miners. They would have meat at one end and Jam (Jelly) at the other. The idea was that it was a main meal with dessert on one. The crust was used to hold it while eating and it was then thrown away because it was covered in mine dust. Washing hands before food was not possible so the crust was a way of eating with your hands and not ruining the food.
OK so this is one of those things that always comes up in this kind of discussion but in reality it is not eaten very often in the UK anymore. It is a sponge/cake based dessert with raisins in it. Frankly it is very old fashioned and not something anyone coming to the UK is likely to come across. The name, however, is funny and does seem to be something of a British food joke in other countries.
The Fry Up and Black Pudding
These two things should be discussed together because they are part of the same meal. The great British fry up is not so different to meals seen in other countries but it is important enough in British culture to mention. It is a traditional breakfast meal but not something people have everyday due to the fat and sheer size! It traditionally includes sausages, fried eggs, fried bread, fried mushrooms, fried bacon and fried or grilled tomatoes. It is also served with bake beans and…..fried black pudding. It is not the most healthy of meals for obvious reasons but it is one that elicits a great deal of passion among Brits. The black pudding part can be quite controversial for some. It is essentially a sausage made from pigs’ blood. It is flavoured and cured so it slices and is very firm. It is a rich and very tasty addition and something that has been recently reclaimed by top chefs as an addition to a lot of very high end restaurants. Anyone coming to the UK for work, school or pleasure should find a café and try and fried or English breakfast.
English food may not have the flare of Indian cooking or the passion of Italian cuisine but it does have tradition and in the right hands these meals can and should be delicious.