Although the typical English cuisine includes a rather wide variety of foods compared to Italy or France for example, it still has its own character. English cuisine mostly includes plain dishes from local ingredients, with simple sauces to bring out the true taste, instead of disguising it.
When going back in history, Celtic agriculture and animal breeding contributed to the variety of foods and dishes during this time. Anglo-Saxon England also developed savoury and meat stewing techniques, before these ways of cooking became more widespread in Europe. In the middle Ages, the Norman Conquest introduced a few exotic spices to the English cuisine as well.
Today, there are still many dishes that survived the test of time:
Starting with breakfast, the most typical is of course the so-called ‘full English breakfast’, which includes bacon, eggs, grilled tomatoes, fried bread, baked beans, black pudding and fried mushrooms. This is also the most famous ‘dish’ of the English cuisine.
The first recipe for ice cream originated in England as well. It was published in 1718.
The modern day ‘sandwich’ got its name from John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich. He once ordered his valet to bring him meat tucked between two pieces of bread. Since then, the name ‘sandwich’ came into use.
An important example of English cuisine, is the ‘Sunday Roast’. This include roasted meat, whether beef, lamb or chicken, combined with a variety of vegetables.
Another important or prominent meal is simply fish and chips. The first fried chips in Britain, was at Oldham’s Tommyfield Market in 1860.
Meat pies are common as well, for example steak and kidney pie, shepherd’s pie, Cornish pie, and cottage pie.
The typical afternoon tea also forms part of the typical British custom. This happens usually between four and six in the afternoon. As snack together with the tea, biscuits, snacks or scones can be served.
The first figure-shaped biscuit, referring to a gingerbread man, was made in the sixteenth century, having been made in the court of Elizabeth I.
Alcoholic drinks are wine and beer – English beers are categorized as bitter, stout, mild or simply brown ale.
When considering fast food restaurants, there are of course the normal informal places like Applebee’s, Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, etc.
When one is looking for something a bit more fancy, but still affordable, there are chain restaurants like the Black Angus Steakhouse (originate from the United States), Buffalo Wild Wings (originate from the United States and Canada), Charlie Brown’s Fresh Grill (originate from the United States), the Cheesecake Factory (originate from the United States), Hippopotamus (originate from France), etc.
Then there are individual restaurants – not part of any chain restaurants - with typical English food. The prices are of course not so low anymore, but the quality of food makes up for it though. These include for example:
The oldest restaurant, Rules, is situated in the heart of Covent Garden. This restaurant serves the traditional English cuisine since 1798.
Simpson’s-in-the-Strand’s speciality is Scottish beef on the bone, which the waiter cuts at one’s table. The fine interior of the restaurants also reminds one of the past – like ‘Rules’, this is also a very old restaurant, having served since 1828.
The English cuisine is thus definitely something to explore as well!