Cultured Palate: Dishes from England

Although Britain has a history of bland and unappetizing food, chefs in England have recently brought back some authentic recipes and are giving them a modern spin for a whole new take on traditional British cooking.

Gone are the days of dry, grey roasts, and gooey mashed potatoes. The next generation of chefs have banished flavorless food and are busy scouring the countryside for the newest ingredients to incorporate into their cuisine. If you’re traveling through England this year, take a look at this list for some traditional dishes you have to try while you’re there.

The Full English Breakfast

A traditional pub favorite, the full English breakfast has long been a favored choice of British citizens all over the world. While each chef has their own take on the full English, the building blocks have remained the same for decades.

It all starts with eggs – usually two or three runny-yolked and fried. Then, a few slices of either back or regular bacon are added to the plate, along with sausages, beans, and a fried tomato. Instead of toast, the full English comes with a slice of bread fried in bacon drippings. Other optional additions include kippers, black pudding, mushrooms, and potatoes.

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Fish and Chips

Fish and chips may seem completely English in origin, but in fact it was Jewish immigrants who brought fried fish to England in the late 17th century. The first fish and chip shop opened in 1860 in London, and by 1910, there were over 25,000 “chippies” open across the country.

If you’re buying this dish from a dedicated fish and chip shop, you’ll probably receive your meal wrapped in newsprint. If you’re getting it at a restaurant or pub, expect it to be laid out on a plate with a side of mushy peas. Traditionally, fried cod or haddock is used, but depending on the region, you may find plaice, whiting, or pollock as well.

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Cornish Pasty

The Cornish pasty is a type of pastry that’s popular all over England, but originated in the southern county of Cornwall. A Cornish pasty contains beef, potatoes, rutabaga, and onion, wrapped up in a thick, golden pastry crust.

Although the origins of the pasty are unclear, one popular story claims that they were originally made for miners – the thick, crimped edge gave a miner something to hold on to so his hands wouldn’t get the rest of the pasty dirty. Although this story is now considered folklore, pasties have long been considered a working-class food.

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