Contrary to popular belief, Britain does have a wide and varied cuisine. After years of disparagement by various countries, Britain now has an enviable culinary reputation. In fact, some of the great chefs come from Britain. This expertise is nothing new, by the way, as in the past British cooking was amongst the best in the world.
British cuisine has always been multicultural. In ancient times it was influenced by the Romans and in Medieval times by the French. Because of this, during Victorian times British food was often mixed with exotic spices from all over the Empire and despite continental influences still remains so. From India we adopted curry-style spicing from which we developed our own, such as Worcestershire and deviled sauces. Many consider that curry is a national dish today.
Unfortunately, a great deal of damage was done during the two world wars. Being an island, many goods went on short supply and only essential food stuffs were consumed. Rationing still existed as late as 1954! Little by little British food became something of a gastronomical joke and it wasn’t until the 1980s that it took a new direction. Disenchanted with French influence, chefs began to look closer to home for inspiration. Calling on a rich and largely ignored tradition and using many diverse and interesting ingredients, the basis was formed for what was to become known as modern British food.
Of course you can find restaurants from just about every country in the world, especially in London, and this has influenced cuisine enormously. Although some traditional dishes such as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, Cornish pasties, steak and kidney pie, bread and butter pudding, treacle tart, spotted dick and fish and chips remain popular, there has been a significant shift in eating habits in the last few decades. Basic ingredients have changed as more rice, pasta and olive oil are consumed. Today there is more emphasis on fine, fresh ingredients in the better restaurants and markets. Fish is still important as Britain has extensive fishing grounds with a variety of species like sole, haddock, hake, plaice, cod, halibut, turbot and John Dory or St. Peter’s fish, as well as oily fish like mackerel, pilchards and herrings. Fish dishes are now not just oily, battered messes but delicious displays of culinary imagination.
More interesting dishes:
Crown roast lamb