The British have a bad reputation for their food. Rarely do you hear someone say “Let’s go for a British” or “British food is my absolute favorite cuisine”, and the British menu often comes under fire for its lack of seasoning and clear identity. I’m here to tell you to look beyond your assumptions, and use your time while in the UK exploring the whole range of culinary delights that await you!
1. Fish and Chips
Most students who come to the UK eat Fish and Chips at least once. However, how many of them actually go to the seaside, grab a wrapped up parcel and eat them there and then? The Fish and Chips you can get all over the country are a poor substitute for the real thing. You need to eat them at the beach!! When you do go, make sure to ask for the most traditional of orders: Battered Cod and chips, with lots of salt and malt vinegar on top. How do you eat them? Right out of the paper, with a wooden fork… if possible sitting on the sand!
2. Sunday Roast
Another absolute must which many students don’t know about is a traditional Sunday Roast dinner. This is normally eaten on a Sunday for either lunch or dinner, and is a combination of roasted meat (usually beef, chicken, lamb or pork) served with lots of different vegetables, roast potatoes, lots of gravy and maybe a Yorkshire pudding (a kind of baked savoury pancake). Any pub and most restaurants will serve this on Sundays, so make sure to try a few wherever you are studying.
3. Afternoon Tea and Cakes
Catarina de Bragança from Portugal is famed for bringing the very “English” habit of drinking tea in the afternoon to the UK. Surprised? Well, she did marry King Charles II and it became part of high society way back in the 1600s!
Nowadays going for Afternoon Tea is a celebration event, and many people like to push the boat out and substitute the traditional drink for some bubbly champagne. A normal Afternoon Tea consists of a selection of small sandwiches, a range of extravagant cakes and, of course, scones with lashings of jam and clotted cream.
If you’re studying in London, many of the top hotels offer the best Afternoon Teas, with the highest price tags. However, all of our UK cities have a wide range of restaurants and tearooms which offer delicious Afternoon Tea, for you to enjoy.
4. Global influences
One of the greatest facts of the UK being a teeny-tiny island is that as a nation we have travelled the world, and brought all of our culinary discoveries back with us. You are able to find restaurants from all around the world in all cities, offering authentic food at an affordable price and without the long travel time.
Cambridge has a great market in which you can find food stalls for countries as diverse as Venezuela, Brazil, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, America, China, Germany, South Africa, Italy, Jamaica and Japan as well as traditional British cheese and bread stalls. Similarly, if you’re in London, head to Borough Market for an amazing international experience.
5. The National Dish
Ask most students what the national dish of the UK is and they’ll usually say Fish and Chips. However, there have beenmany studies to show that the actual dish which is most representative of the country is curry. Chicken Tikka Masala to be precise!
Given the historical connections between India and Great Britain, it seems only logical that Indian food has played a big role in the British culinary identity. You will find thousands of Indian restaurants around the country, and on a Friday and Saturday night, they’re sure to be crammed full with hungry punters. However, if you’re looking for an authentic Indian experience, be warned! British Indian food and traditional Indian food are often quite different. If you’re not sure what to order, the Chicken Tikka Masala is always a safe bet. This dish has many stories about its origins, and many believe it to have been developed in Scotland! It’s a spicy dish with tomatoes and a creamy sauce. Absolutely delicious!
6. Special Requirements
The final point to make about food in the UK is that it is very inclusive. Most restaurants cater for a whole range of dietary requirements, be them allergies, vegetarian or vegan dishes, gluten or lactose free needs or halal meats. These are usually very clearly labelled, and if you’re not sure you can always ask your waiter or waitress, who will have all the relevant information for you!
Overall, you can find a whole host of delicious dishes in the UK, though sometimes you need to pick your restaurants and cafes carefully. If you like seasoning to be strong, get a few packs of salt and pepper to put in your handbag, and you’ll be good to go! Explore regional dishes, try everything and you might end up finding a new favorite when you least expect it.