The UK offers its residents an appetising array of food and drink choices. Students from all over the world are attracted to the country because of its cosmopolitan landscape – a landscape that delivers a variety of culinary tastes, flavours, aromas, and ingredients.
In amongst all this variety, you can still find traditional British cuisine – from baked beans on toast to the famous British fry-up. This page will give you a little taster (no pun intended) of the edible delights that the UK offers.
Did you know? The world’s first chocolate bar was made in Britain!
Whilst it is said that the Swiss are masters of chocolate making, Britain once led the way. The world’s first chocolate bar was made in Bristol in 1847 by Joseph Fry Ltd, a company that later merged with famous chocolatiers Cadbury.
Famous regional dishes: Yuk or yum?
The UK is a big place, so naturally you will find a selection of food items that people seem to either love or loathe. We’ve selected a few regional acquired tastes…
Made predominantly from sheep’s heart, liver, lungs, and oats, then stuffed in a sheep’s stomach; whilst it may not sound appetising, haggis is a firm favourite for many Scots.
Jellied eels …
Jellied eels originated primarily in London’s east end. Chopped eels are boiled in stock, then left to cool to form a jelly. The dish is typically served in pubs, and eaten with vinegar and pepper.
Deep-fried Mars bars …
A Mars bar is a popular chocolate bar that the Scottish are famously known for covering in batter and deep-frying. This delicacy is typically sold in chip shops.
Black pudding …
Whilst at first glance, this may look like chocolate, black pudding (sometimes referred to as blood pudding or blood sausage) is made from pigs blood and fat – another Scottish favourite.
For more peculiar food items, read The Top 10 ‘unusual’ foods eaten around the world.
Interesting UK food facts
As with many countries in the world, the UK uses terms and expressions that may differ in meaning to the same word used in other countries, the US in particular. For instance, the British refer to Dinner as ‘tea’ or ‘supper’.
The fry-up …
You must try a typical British fry-up: eggs (scrambled, poached, omelettes, sunny side up), bacon, sausages (also known as bangers), mushrooms, fried tomatoes, and baked beans.
As the name suggests, elevenses is a morning snack taken around 11am – it typically consists of a cup of tea or coffee with some biscuits or cake.
Take a look at some food items we’ve uncovered whose meanings baffle the average American: Food Differences in American English and British English.
Brits and their sandwiches!
As is the case in many countries around the world, sandwiches are a hugely popular food item in the UK. But did you know that the term ‘sandwich’ came from the UK?
John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, was a prolific gambler; so to keep his hands clean whilst playing cards he would ask that his meat be put between two slices of bread. And, so the world’s most eaten convenience food was born.
- Over 30% of all sandwiches sold in the UK have chicken as a filling.
- London is the most expensive place to buy a sandwich – £1.83 versus a national average of £1.66
- Over 44.3% of all sandwich buyers are aged 24 – 44
Fish and Chips …
Fish and chips are a mainstay of British cuisine. Cod, haddock, and or plaice are dipped in batter then deep-fried and then served with chips. Mushy or green peas and tartar sauce often accompany this dish.
Bacon (also referred to as rashers in the UK) is a hugely popular food item in UK households and cafes. It is king of the breakfast meats, thus a staple part of the full English breakfast. Unlike Americans, the British traditionally use back bacon which has a larger surface area of meat than the more fatty US side bacon (known as ‘streaky’ bacon in the UK). As well as breakfast, bacon is much-loved in bacon sandwiches (colloquially known as bacon butties).
Cottage Pie / Shepherd’s Pie …
Neither Shepherd’s pie or Cottage pie are ‘pies’ in the traditional sense (pastries with a lid). They are essentially identical dishes: minced meat cooked with vegetables and topped with mashed potato. The difference lies in the meat that is used; minced lamb in the shepherd’s pie, and minced beef in a cottage pie.
How’s your sweet tooth?
The British love their desserts (also known as puddings), and students in the UK will be able to become fully acquainted with the sweet delicacies available.
Pancakes: A well-known food item eaten in the UK is pancakes. Although not traditionally British, pancakes are very popular in the UK – eaten both as a sweet dessert, and wrapped around savoury fillings. Want to know more about Pancake Day?
Bakewell tarts, roly-poly puddings, trifles, Battenbergs, Victoria sponges, rice puddings, bread and butter pudding, English crumpets, sticky toffee puddings – These are just some of the fantastic British desserts to try! We’ve described a few more favourites below …
Mince Pies: Despite the name, minced pies do not contain any minced meat; rather, they are small pastry pies filed with dried fruit – traditionally eaten at Christmas time.