Top 5 British Food Traditions To Embrace Now

Categories: Top Five

Wild Boar Meat Pies.JPG
Photo by Joanna O'Leary.
One of the many varieties of meat pies available at Borough Market.
As mentioned in an earlier post, I recently returned from London, where I was celebrating the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens and stuffing my gob with vittles. Houston stole my heart with its diverse food scene, but London, despite being bloody expensive, still has a certain something, or, rather, certain somethings you don't often find in Texas. Here are five UK food traditions we should indulge in more regularly.

5. Thick-Cut Fries (Chips). Fish and chips aren't hard to find in Houston, but the so-called "chips" are often marginally thicker French fries. We need more authentic options, crispy slabs bursting with fluffy potato that readily absorbs sides of vinegar or curry sauce.

4. Meat Pies. No, chicken pot pie doesn't count. I'm talking free-standing, industrial-strength crusted pies stuffed with pheasant, wild boar, turkey or, if you're unadventurous, just beef. Cold or hot, meat pies are the epitome of the "hearty" supper.

Whiskey and Ginger.JPG
Photo by Joanna O'Leary.
I love that in the UK you can pick up this bad boy and a prawn and mayo sandwich just outside the tube.
3. Millionaire's Shortbread. Brooke Viggiano was reading my mind this week. These delightfully chewy, flaky squares are appropriately called "over-size Twix bars" for the way in which they combine cookie and candy bar components. They're easy enough to make at home, or available on Amazon from certain English vendors. Serve with warm milk tea. And speaking of that lovely brewed beverage...

2. High Tea. A cuppa and some light carbohydrate refreshment in the afternoon is a custom still practiced by many Britons. The elaborate event that is now "high tea" is usually far too expensive and time-consuming for daily participation; however, for weekend special occasions, it's refreshing change from boring old brunch. Since most high tea service is offered starting around 4 p.m., you can sleep in even later. Plus, most convenient of all, when you're done caffeinating and re-hydrating, it's time for happy hour, which means you can have a...

1. Whiskey and Ginger. Sometimes referred to as a "highball," the whiskey and ginger is to Britons as the margarita is to Texans. Convenience shops accordingly sell premixed bottles (you know, for when you need that pick-me-up on the way to work) or you can easily make your own with some fine (or not) Irish whiskey and ginger ale (or beer). Go for a double if you're brave, and don't forget the lemon slice.



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12 comments
BryceChartwell
BryceChartwell

Excellent ideas included here. Next time you're in London you might want to visit the following establishment to discover some less well known traditional dishes:www.lastparsnip.com

BryceChartwell
BryceChartwell

Some excellent traditions mentioned here. Next time you're in London you might want to visit the following for some less well-known traditional recipes:www.lastparsnip.com

Tom
Tom

I don't know about Britain, but people in the Old South have been drinking whiskey and ginger ale for ages. Mainly bourbon, but I've also had it with Irish or Scotch whisk(e)y.

trisch
trisch

Don't forget cheese and Branston pickle sandwiches!

Meat pies are yum -- except for Cornish pasties (ick!) and steak and kidney pies where the kidneys haven't been cleaned very well (pew!).

Corey
Corey

Can't forget Rowntree's fruit gums, you heathens.. Specs (Smith st) carries real English meat pies, I quite fancy a good pork pie. 

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I want to encourage the use of HP brown sauce in place of ketchup, especially on those meat pies. And the use of Bisto Chip Shop Curry. And the eating of Penguins.

Mtexas1969
Mtexas1969

Terrible error in your text, my dear. They will know you are from the colonies. The tea you write of is "Afternoon Tea." It's the tea referred to in the saying, "At half past three, the world stops for tea." It was to get the socialites through until dinner late that evening. High Tea, as upper class as it may sound, refers to an early supper the working class would have - much heavier food - when they came back from the workhouses around 4 or 5. Afternoon tea was once called low tea. The High and Low was not a reference to social class, however, but the height of the table it was served on (salons had low tables, kitchens had, well, kitchen tables). Veddy good. Carry on.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

When I was in school over there, we didn't have any of that.  (except the chips, and you had to pay 5 pence extra for ketchup-the only free condiment was malt vinegar.)  In fact, the main thing I remember being introduced to was Chicken Kiev, of all things.  I also remember trying to describe a tortilla to a grocery store clerk and being led to the pancake mixes...

trisch
trisch

I did a grad school exchange program to London, and someone had the bright idea of hosting a welcome dinner for a bunch of us from Texas there. It was a weird entree into British culture for us.

Joanna
Joanna

Mtexas1969: Quite right, my dear, quite right! I was using "afternoon tea" and "high tea" interchangeably and you are correct in your distinction.  Thank you!

Corey
Corey

Very nice, tarabit... 

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