Fantastic Feasts and Where to Find Them - The Best Food in the UK

A gastronomic tour of the UK, featuring 10 different specialities in 10 different locations from all over the country. From a breakfast that’ll give you heart failure, to a dessert that’ll have you falling in love with Great British food, if you haven't done already.

The Ulster fry 

There are heaps of variations on the fry-up, but this version from Northern Ireland is a good one because of the inclusion of soda farls. But I do think baked beans would make a non-traditional but welcome addition. It’s typically a breakfast but most fry-ups are “all-day breakfasts”, which means you can still get one if you wake up in the afternoon after a heavy night (which is when the fry-up is its most rewarding). Not for those on diets, vegans, vegetarians, the health conscious or the faint-hearted.

2 slices of bacon, 2 sausages, 1 soda bread farl, 2 potato bread farls, 2 slices of black pudding, 1 tomato, halved and 2 eggs. ALL FRIED.

Laverbread

This is a traditional Welsh delicacy made from laver, that has nothing to do with bread. Laver is a kind of seaweed found on the west coast of Britain. It is boiled and mashed up into a paste, and often rolled in outs and fried. Typically eaten for breakfast with cockles and bacon but can be added to all sorts of dishes like soups and stews. It had to make the list to keep the vegans, vegetarians and health conscious mentioned above happy, laverbread is a superfood- rich in vitamins and minerals, high in protein and low in calories. In May 2017 it was awarded EU protected status, putting it on the list with all the big names like Champagne and Parmigiano Reggiano. 

Many believe the Haggis to be a wild animal

Yorkshire pudding

We had Laverbread that isn’t bread and now we’ve got Yorkshire puddings that aren’t puddings. Made by cooking a batter of flour, eggs and milk at a high temperature in fat so it rises to form a magnificent golden crown fit for a king. Historically eaten before a roast so you weren’t too hungry when the expensive meat was served. These days it’s an integral part of the roast dinner, which can even be served inside the pudding if it’s big enough. At its very best when drowning in gravy. 

Jellied eels

Londoners have been eating eels for centuries, popular because of their ready availability in the Thames; making them a cheap and nutritious food. To make jellied eels you chop up the eels, boil them in stock or water and leave to cool so they form a jelly which you eat cold. An acquired taste. 

 
Warning! Contains some Gordon Ramsay style language and eels getting their heads chopped off.

Fish and chips

Fried battered fish and big fat chips covered in salt and vinegar with mushy peas on the side. Fish’n’chips have been a favourite since the first chippy opened in the 1860s. Some say that fish and chips helped win the war, keeping the country well fed and boosting morale.

Curry 

Close your eyes, now imagine a place with curry restaurants as far as the eye can see… The “Curry Mile” is that place, a stretch of road in Manchester with the highest concentration of Asian restaurants in the country, and maybe even this side of the Indian Subcontinent. Curry has been popular in Britain since spices were brought back from India hundreds of years ago and when commonwealth immigrants moved to Britain after the war they started opening curry houses all over the country. They often bought old chip shops and started serving curry alongside fish, chips and pies, which is why curry sauce has become a favourite accompaniment to chips.

Indian Dishes on tradittional Thali

I often get a Bhuna when I go for curry

 

Lancashire hotpot

This dish originates from the county of Lancashire in the northwest of England. Mutton or lamb and onions are topped with sliced potatoes and cooked for a long time over a low heat in a high-sided pot. Apparently the dish was created by workers during the period of industrialisation in the 19th century as it could be prepared quickly and left cooking until they came back home in the evening, tired and hungry. 

Haggis

The national dish of Scotland is the minced liver, heart, and lungs of a sheep mixed with beef or mutton suet and oatmeal, seasoned and packed into a sheep’s stomach and boiled. Many believe the Haggis to be a wild animal with longer legs on one side so it can run around the steep sides of highland mountains without losing its balance. 

Cornish pasty

The Cornish pasty is a pastry from Cornwall in the southwest of England. It is filled with diced beef, potato, swede and onion and (best) served hot. Some say the pastry of a proper Cornish pasty should be hard enough to not crack when dropped down a mine shaft; the pasty was the tin miner’s lunch of choice. 

Bakewell tart

And finally something for those of you with a sweet tooth.  Shortcrust pastry filled with layers of jam and frangipane and topped with flaked almonds. There are a few variations, the cherry Bakewell is topped with fondant or icing and half a glacé cherry. Bakewell is a town in Derbyshire, but there is no evidence that the recipe originates from the town. 

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About the author

Joseph

Leaving rainy Plymouth to move to cold and rainy Hamburg, Joseph has been trying to pronounce ridiculously long German words ever since. If he’s not drinking a cool Weizenbier he spends his time on his bike or reading books by the river. Now working as an intern at bab.la.