- After moving back to New York after a year in London, there are some classic British foods I miss.
- Yorkshire puddings, which are similar to popovers, are uniquely and deliciously British.
- While they might sound disgusting, prawn cocktail crisps are surprisingly tasty.
- There’s nothing like a Sunday roast, which is like having Thanksgiving dinner every week.
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When I first moved to the UK, I’ll admit I was sceptical of the food. I hadn’t heard many positive reviews of British cuisine – images of black pudding and mushy peas initially came to mind.
When I arrived in England, however, I realised I’d had a few misconceptions. There’s plenty of classic British food that is delicious, like Sunday roasts, full English breakfasts, and of course, tea.
Certain foods, like Yorkshire puddings and Cadbury Twirls, are hard, if not impossible, to find back home in New York. Other dishes, like fish and chips and roast potatoes, are available here, but they’re just not done the same way.
Take a look at the classic and unique British foods that I wish I could enjoy at home.
Yorkshire puddings are one of the UK’s greatest culinary inventions.
Traditionally served with gravy and meat, Yorkshire puddings are often served with a Sunday roast.
Similar to popovers here in the US, Yorkshire puddings are made from a batter of eggs, flour, and milk or water. They were initially created by cooks collecting the fat from roasting meat and using it to create a batter.
Prawn cocktail crisps — stay with me here — are shockingly delicious.
Now when I first saw these I thought, “Gross! Shrimp-flavored chips?” but boy, was I wrong. They don’t have a fishy taste at all. Rather, their flavour comes from the cocktail sauce, a slightly vinegary ketchup sauce with just the right amount of kick.
Millionaire’s shortbread is a layered confection of dreams.
Named for their rich and indulgent nature, these tri-layered treats consist of a flaky biscuit layer, a gooey caramel layer, and chocolate. It’s very hard to mess these up. I had my first after a friend’s Sunday dinner, and I’m still wishing they were a traditional dessert over here.
Mince pies are cute, palm-sized pies filled with fruits and nuts. They’re a traditional holiday treat in the UK.
Though they were originally made with minced meat, today they’re more commonly filled with spiced fruit and dusted with sugar. They are as tasty as they are cute.
A Sunday roast is like having Thanksgiving dinner every weekend.
Sunday roasts are just about the most classically British meal there is. Most Brits get together with family on Sundays and have a meal that we would compare to a Thanksgiving dinner. It consists of roast meat and potatoes, vegetables, Yorkshire puddings, and warm gravy.
Once warmed up, spongy crumpets are ready to be soaked in butter and jam.
Crumpets are like squishy, hole-filled scones. The holes come from the fermentation process when the batter is made, and they develop as the crumpet cooks. The extra space within the baked good allows for butter to seep through, creating a sumptuous treat. In the UK, they’re eaten for breakfast or afternoon tea.
Pies and mash are also a mainstay of British diets, and a classic pub food.
I had my first British pie and mash while in Leeds in Yorkshire. I was initially sceptical, as I wasn’t entirely sure what was beneath the pie’s flaky crust, and what the mysterious green sauce was composed of.
After one bite, I could safely say that pies are a savoury and hearty meal. The green sauce is actually called parsley liquor, and is made of parsley, garlic, and butter.
Greggs vegan sausage rolls were my absolute favourite.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is no better on-the-go breakfast than a Greggs (vegan) sausage roll. Though they originally only had meat-filled sausage rolls, the pastry chain created a vegan version last year, and saw a surge in company profits.
Of course I miss fish and chips, the most classically British dish.
Ah, fish and chips, the most iconic British food. If you were to ask someone to name a British food, this would most likely be it.
The fish is most often battered and fried haddock or cod, and it comes with chips, the British word for fries. It’s also traditionally served with peas, either whole, as pictured here, or mushy (mashed up).
Roast potatoes are just done differently across the pond.
Roast potatoes are made pretty much everywhere, but the way they do them in England is just a bit different.
British potatoes have a soft, creamy inside and crunchy outer crust. This is created by parboiling the potatoes and then shaking them about, creating a rough exterior that soaks up fat and crisps up nicely.
I know we have tea here, but British tea is some of the best in the world.
Of course we have tea in New York, but it’s not the same as the British tea Queen Elizabeth drinks.
The Queen’s favourite tea is actually from Twinings, a relatively cheap variety than can be found in practically all British shops.According to former Royal Chef Darren McGrady, the Queen starts each day with a cup of tea and biscuits (cookies) – how delightfully British.
Bacon sarnies are a classic, quick meal that always hits the spot.
Now vegetarian, I enjoy vegan bacon sarnies, and I think they’re just as good. As simple as it sounds, a bacon sarnie (short for sandwich) is just bacon and white bread, with ketchup if you fancy it.
A British take on Indian food, tikka masala was supposedly invented in Glasgow.
Surprisingly, the beloved chicken tikka masala is not an entirely Indian dish.
Legend has it that the dish was born in Glasgow, Scotland, at a restaurant called Shish Mahal. According to the story, a customer came in one day complaining that his curried chicken was dry, and the owner, Ali Ahmed Aslam, who was on an all-liquid diet after a stomach bug, offered to put some of his tomato soup on the chicken and voila, tikka masala was made.
A full English is a traditional British breakfast that brings together almost every food group.
This one took some getting used to. Though I’m not usually a fan of huge breakfast meals, or beans in the morning for that matter, I slowly grew fond of the full English, also known as a “fry up.”
It’s a tradition to indulge in one after a big night out, and the variety of beans, eggs, roasted mushrooms, and bread gives you all the nutrients you need to get your day going.
Sticky toffee pudding is my number one dessert item on the British menu.
McGrady said the Queen “loved [sticky toffee pudding] at Sandringham when it was really cold outside, and when she was at Balmoral, and the rest of the royal family did too.”
The Brits love anything elderflower, and it is often infused in drinks.
Native to Britain, the elderflower is an ancient hedgerow plant. Some believe it has medicinal properties, and it was once used to cure colds and hay fever.
It has a sweet, fruity taste, making it an ideal addition to any drink or cocktail.
Trifle is another can’t-miss dessert that I indulged in from time to time.
Another dish often served in the Queen’s palace is trifle, a sweet, layered sponge cake with whipped cream and fruit.
Though I only indulged in it a few times, it’s an incredibly light and sweet treat.
Though we can get some Cadbury chocolate in the US, I’ve never seen Cadbury Twirls in stores here — I miss them.
Though the one pictured above is a miniature, original Cadbury Twirls come with two bars of flaky chocolate. They were one of my favourites because I enjoyed the sweet chocolately flavour with its light flakiness.
- Read more:
- I spent a year living in the UK and these are the British slang words I’ve permanently added to my vocabulary
- I just moved to New York City after living in London for a year – here’s what I miss most about living across the pond
- Disappointing photos show what it’s like to travel on the London Underground
- 6 things that won’t change once Prince Harry and Meghan transition out of royal life