It is believed that the history, geography and climate of England have shaped the typical English cuisines. Interestingly, most meals of England have ancient connections, such as stewed and roasted meat, bread and cheese, game pies, meat, the saltwater and freshwater fish. The popular ‘Forme of Cury’, which is a 14th century cookbook, contains English recipes those dating back to the period of Richard II.
Today, England is globally popular for its chips and fish widely available in the take way shops and in the restaurants. Conventionally, fish and chips are served with side order. These include the mushy peas with salt and even malt vinegar as condiments. Some food like the deep fried and breaded prawn dish, fish cakes and scampi are also served.
Cauliflower cheese which is totally a British dish is generally consumed as main course for dinner or lunch. This dish consists of light boiled cauliflower pieces, which comes covered with milk based cheese sauce. Hard or strong cheese like cheddar is usually preferred. Another sauce that may also be used is Bechamel sauce, which is flavored with cheese, nutmeg and English mustard. This dish is topped with the grated cheese and often lightly grilled to offer a finish to it. Some additional ingredients like tuna or pasta can also be added so as to make it a main snack.
Bubble and Squeak is another traditional English dish which is prepared with leftover vegetables from roast dinner. Cabbage and potatoes are the main ingredients, but other vegetables like peas, carrots, Brussels sprouts can also be added as well. Generally, bubble and squeak is served with the cold meat left over from pickles and Sunday roast. All chopped vegetables and the meat is pan fried together with the mashed potato until this entire mixture is well cooked and turn brown on the both sides. These days, you get tinned and prepared frozen versions too.
The Ploughman’s lunch is a popular dish. Basically, it’s a cold snack or meal and consists of relish, thick piece of a cheese, chunk of butter and bread to go with it. It is more often accompanied by green salad. There are other general additions like half a piece of apple, diced hard boiled egg, crisps, pate, celery, or beet root. This is perhaps a common item in most English pubs.
Pie and mash is typically a working class food in London. This traditional food item is made of minced beef pie and mashed potato. The mashed potato is placed around one side of the plate and a kind of parsley sauce known as liquor is added to it which is completely non alcoholic. The sauce spread around is made traditionally with water kept from the preparation of the stewed eels. Hence, you get this dish served in most pie and eel houses around the United Kingdom.
Faggot is a type of meatball which is another traditional dish of England, especially in Midlands. This dish is made from the meat off cuts and the innards or offal, preferably pork. It is generally made from the pig liver, heat and the fatty belly meat or the bacon crushed together. Herbs are then added for the flavoring and sometimes breadcrumbs. Then the mixture is shaped into the balls and then wrapped round with the caul fat extracted from pigs and then baked.
Shepherd’s pie, also known as cottage pie is a type of meat pie with the crust made up of the mashed potatoes. This dish has been around since the year 1791 when potato was introduced safe to eat and an affordable crop for the underprivileged. Earlier, this dish was prepared with the leftover roasted meat of any sort. The pie dish was even lined with the mashed potato. Shepherd’s pie, the term appeared first in the 1870s.
Something which will always be English is the tradition of mid afternoon tea. Every English man and woman stops for a tea in mid afternoon. At tea time, the meal generally consists of few typical things like scones with butter, jam and clotted cream, biscuits, butterfly cakes and sandwiches. The tea in itself is served with milk or lemon. In recent times, the tradition of the tea time has been replaced by snacking, but the old tradition of the afternoon tea still exists.
With the passing time, Chinese, Italian and Indian food have grown popular in the country which is evident with the increasing number of pizza restaurants, kebab houses and the American styled fried chicken restaurants in UK which have been doing good business. But, the traditional English dishes like the fish cakes, the deep fried breaded prawn dish, the scampi, jellied eels, the hash, and the fish and chips will always be popular.