As well as our terrible weather, our Queen and her corgis and our distinctive stripey flag, Britain has a lot more to offer in culinary terms. Here in the UK we have 65 food and drink products have been granted Protected Geographical Status under European Law. Unsurprisingly places like Italy and France have around 250 each, but places like Austria and Sweden only have a handful. Even though some of the things on our infographic don’t have protected status – these are products which are instantly recognisable as quintessentially British.
Ask any Scotsman what a haggis is and he’ll probably tell an old wives tale of how the haggis is a four legged furry creature that runs around the highlands. This is probably a far nicer image of the haggis. The real haggis is traditionally made from the stomach of a sheep and stuffed with its lungs, heart and liver. Then padded out with some oatmeal, herbs, spices and some sheep blood and there you have it – a nice, hearty meal… literally.
The scots love it so much, they even wrote a poem about it – an ode to a Haggis by Robert Burns.
The Fry Up
In some form the fry up can be found lurking in even the darkest and greyest corners of the United Kingdom. The ‘fry up’ came from the Victorians – the richest and most wealthy Victorians at that. When Brits started holidaying abroad more frequently in the 60’s, the fry up became known as an English Breakfast. The fry up usually consists of fried eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked Beans, black pudding, a fried slice or toast, and hash browns.
Of course, there are regional variations… In the North of England breakfast is usually served with black pudding, in Scotland it comes with a sausage square, haggis and a potato scone. Down South in London you could expect a fry up with bubble and squeak and in Wales, laverbread, or boiled seaweed.
- For a far healthier fry up, try swapping the bacon and sausages for veggie versions – veggie versions are much lower in saturated fat and calories but higher in protein.
- Try roasting the tomato with some garlic oil, it tastes yummier and garlic is super good for you!
- Instead of fried eggs, swap them for scrambled egg whites. Add in a handful of spinach to count towards your five-a-day. )
A small English town nestled in the Derbyshire dales… and also home of the Bakewell tart, or pudding. Derbyshire folk believe that the pudding was first made by accident as a result of a misunderstanding between a local Inn mistress, Mrs Graves, and her cook.
A visiting nobleman in around 1860 ordered a strawberry tart, however, instead of mixing the strawberry jam in with the egg batter, he spread the jam in-between the two layers, thus creating the Bakewell tart. The tart was so popular that Mrs Wilson, a local wife of a candlestick maker, started selling them in what is now the ‘Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop’. Within 150 years, this happy accident has become a symbol of British baking and is sold worldwide.
Melton Mowbray Pork Pie
In the late 17thcentury, Melton Mowbray was off the scale in the amount of cheese it was producing. The by-product of the local Stilton cheese industry, whey, was the perfect diet for pigs so pork was heavily incorporated into the local diet.
The pork pie originally featured a rough pastry case and was baked in a clay pot. With its resemblance to a package, industrial workers, agricultural works and hunt servants would carry the package to work for lunch and then discard the pastry.
John Cadbury opened his first shop in 1824, at 93 Bull Street, Birmingham. He used a pestle and mortar to crush and make his own drinking cocoa and drinking chocolate.
Seaweed is eaten in many exotic locations around the world, including Wales. In Welsh, the dish is called ‘bara lawr’, and is usually served with buttered toast and shellfish.
Eel, pie and mash shops are a London institution. Eels were just randomly swimming around in the Thames, why not jelly them?
Fish and Chips
Fish and chips are as English as camping in the rain, right? Well, it turns out, not so much. The Jewish community fleeing persecution in the 1800’s that ended up in East London brought with them fried fish. Belgians apparently invented chips.
We are lucky enough to have a vast and brilliant range of cheese made in the country, we have red Leicester cheese, Wensleydale, Cornish Yarg… to name but a few. Cheddar is tangy, comes in various strengths and is fantastic melted over just about everything.
It’s still unknown whether the cream tea was ‘invented’ in Devon or Cornwall, although each county has some pretty strong views as the its geographical heritage, they even come to blows at how you assemble your layers of jam and cream on your scone. Some historians have claimed to have found evidence of manual workers restoring Tavistock’s Benedictine Abbey in Devon being served bread, clotted cream and strawberry preserves by the monks in 1105.
Gin is now such a British classic, that gin tasting and gin festivals have become an actual thing. There are plenty of variations, including different flavours, colours and gin with added glitter. Yep.