One of the many concerns that our international students have when leaving for the UK is food. We all know how important food is – those special treats that you can only get in your home country and that you know you will miss when you go away. But trying different foods is also part of understanding a new culture and can be a great adventure and a lot of fun. In fact, many of our students return home missing foods that they have discovered on their travels. Remember, keep an open mind and never be afraid to try!
Having said that, the UK is now one of the most cosmopolitan countries in the world, and so your local foodstuffs are more than likely available, if you look around. Many cities have supermarkets catering to different cultures' foodstuffs, such as Asian food, African food, Middle Eastern food, etc. Even mainstream supermarkets stock an enormous range of foodstuffs imported from abroad. Most students living on campus will end up cooking for themselves and will soon discover where to buy their favorite foods.
The UK does not have a cuisine that is as famous as say French, Italian or Chinese, but they have a number of dishes that are famous and should be tried at least once during your time in the UK.
Fish and Chips
Possibly the most iconic of the British meals, this popular take-away food originated in the United Kingdom in 1858 or 1863.It consists of battered fish, deep-fried and accompanied by deep-fried chips. It is best when eaten straight out of its paper wrapping when warm. And make sure that you put some salt and vinegar on the chips.
The Sunday Roast
The Sunday roast is not as common in households now as it used to be, but is still a great favorite in country pubs and restaurants. It is a hearty meal consisting of roasted meat, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, stuffing, vegetables and gravy. Delicious!
The UK is home to a number of different types of pies with one of the most common being the Shepherd's Pie. Often this was eaten using the leftover meat from the Sunday roast, minced and mixed with some vegetables and gravy and topped off with a crust made from mashed potato. A Shepherd's Pie is made from lamb mince whereas an otherwise identical dish, known as Cottage Pie, is made using beef mince.
Although not really a dish, the ritual of afternoon tea is still celebrated in much of the UK. It consists of a light meal, typically eaten between 3pm~5pm. Traditionally, tea is brewed in a teapot and served in teacups with milk and sugar and is accompanied by sandwiches, scones and other cakes and pastries. Afternoon tea at a good hotel in the UK is an experience not to be missed.
Bangers and Mash
Bangers here means sausages, which can come in a number of varieties, usually named after their origin, so for example, it may be Cumberland sausages, Lincolnshire sausages, etc. They are almost always pork sausages and the meat is seasoned with a variety of spices and herbs. Sometimes other meats are used too. Mash here refers to mashed potato – the most common accompaniment to sausages! Try it with a little English mustard (but be careful – the mustard can be quite hot!)
Steak and Kidney Pie
This is a savoury pie that is filled with a mixture of diced beef, diced kidney (often of ox, lamb, or pork), fried onion, and brown gravy and topped off with a pastry crust. Pies are very representative of British cuisine and range in size from handheld pies to larger dish sized pies to feed a family.
This is another type of pie that originated in Cornwall, It has a 'D' shaped pastry case filled with beef, diced potato, swede and onion, and seasoned with salt and pepper. This is commonly eaten at lunchtimes by office workers, etc.
Scotland's most famous dish, Haggis is made from sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally simmered in the animal's stomach for approximately three hours.