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Jan 22, 2008 06:24 AM

"English" Food [Split from U.K. thread]

I'll try not to turn this into another "comparing" thread - I don't like London either - or New York - and am glad I don't live in either city.

However, it may be helpful to folk trying to respond to your OP, if you were able to expand on what you mean by "English food". The problem is that there isnt really a simple definition (very like asking what's "American food") - for some, it could be the classic dishes of the 19th century (like , say, a Sussex Pond Pudding), for others it might be the awful stuff of my childhood in the 1950s (the food that gave my country the reputation for lousy food which is still trotted out by some foreigners) or it could be some of the more recent additions to our diet (added since we travelled abroad more and/or included tastes from the diversity of our immigrant communities).

I'd hate to think that, by accident, someone steered you off to some "tourist England" place when what you really wanted to eat was potted shrimps, braised pheasant with celery and some aged farmhouse Lancashire cheese (which is what we had at home on Saturday).


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  1. Oh yes, definitely the latter. New English. There is still far too much scary food abound, but that applies everywhere. Chippies and fried chicken shops make me scared... Braised pheasant with celery and age farmhouse Lancashire sounds great...

    5 Replies
    1. re: JFores

      Don't forget the potted shrimps - one of THE delicacies of this country. If you havnt come across it yet, shrimps are very tiny (about 5mm long) - prawns are anything bigger. You need potted shrimp not prawn.

      1. re: Harters

        What is done with them? What do you mean by potted?

        1. re: JFores

          OK. This isnt something I'd make at home as the shop bought ones generally have the edge. Restaurants might, of course, make their own.

          The finest are a north west speciality with the shrimps coming from Morecambe Bay. Shrimps are the same tiny brown ones you also find in the Netherlands.

          There's a simple recipe in Jane Grigson's "English Food" which suggests taking a pint of peeled shrimp (this is why I wouldnt make it at home - I would lose the will to live peeling some many tiny creatures). You put them in a pan with 4 ounces good salted butter, quarter teaspoon powdered mace, a pinch of cayenne and a little bit of nutmeg. The spices need to be there but sit very much in the background. You put them in ramekin (hence potted - as in put in a pot) and when set , then cover with a layer of clarified butter to seal. Eat as a starter with bread (and more butter)

          You're unlikely to find them in a supermarket but a good fishmonger should have them or one of the upmarket foodie stores (usually in the frozen cabinet).

          Here's link with a bit more info - you'll also find the site has good summaries of our regional food.

          If you're interested in seeing abit more about our regional foods while you're inLondon, Borough Market might be worth a nosy. I see from their website, they are having periodic "regional events" with stalls from suppliers who don't normally make the trip. I think the north west "event" is sometime next month


          1. re: Harters

            Okay, when you say "set" do you mean congealed? and then it turns into a "bread spread"? I am actually going to try this for my super bowl party. I will have to use bay shrimp. I have good friends from County Essex (Clacton-on-Sea) and they do love their English food.

            1. re: paso_gurl_100

              Set/congealed. I think I prefer to eat "set butter" than "congealed butter" though - just sounds more appetising.

              But, yes, you put the shrimp and clarified butter into the ramekin and allow the butter to cool/harden. Then you pour a thin layer of butter on top to finish it off. What I would then do when I was ready to serve is warm it slightly so you can turn it out onto a plate. That way, the top layer of butter is now at the bottom and folk can see the shrimp. Needs nothing more than some nice bread and a squeeze of lemon. If you ever get bored with potted shrimp, just melt a portion into pasta.

    2. English food to me is Shepherd's or Cottage Pie, Fish Pie, Roast Beef with Yorkshire Puds, Mulligatawny Soup (might be Scottish!), beautifully fried fish (not chip shop fish), Lancashire Hot Pot, amazing cheeses - Stilton, Cheddar, Cheshire, Lancashire, Sage Derby, Wensleydale, etc.

      Don't forget British food these days is curry!

      2 Replies
      1. re: smartie

        I thought Mulligatawny Soup originated in India.

        1. re: danhole

          I think it did but it's become an English dish - just like curry!!

      2. oh man. umm i remember when my father and i used to find snails (??) and winkles and fish crabs out of the rocks when the tide was low with a coathanger. and we would take them home, boil them and pull them out of their shells with our fingers or the ends of pins and eat them with butter.

        i also remember white cheddar and branston grilled sandwiches.

        when i was young in england and my father or brother would shoot pheasant we would hang them up and let the feathers rot off and then eat them that way, letting the meat age.

        i recall eating a lot of mcvities milk chocolate digestives. i can eat those like popcorn, unfortunately. thats actually an english food that i associate strongly with the country.

        i also remember always having a raspberry bush in my backyard and an apple tree, and pretty much all my friends and family had the same.

        i also strongly associate currants/slows and gooseberries with english food.

        and also, every sunday my father and i would walk down to the corner bakery and buy pasties and some dandy comics for me. and of course, there is cornish icecream with a wafer stuck in it <3

        1 Reply
        1. I ate at Haunch of Venison Restaurant in Salisbury once, and absolutely enjoyed the meal - traditional English, but with a slightly Modern/slightly lighter touch. There were 3 of us, and we ordered:

          - Toad in the hole;
          - Braised pork with apple sauce & creamed spinach; and
          - Steamed venison pudding with celeriac mash.

          Everything's delicious - unforgettable meal!

          1. Some of the most remarkable cheeeses and beer anywhere.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Chinon00

              And welsh rarebit- cheese and beer mixed together.

              1. re: marmite

                Doesn't get much better than that. :-)

                  1. re: smartie

                    I love marmite. It really is true though what the adverts say : "you either love it or hate it".

                    1. re: FoodieKat

                      So true. Every person I've introduced to it has hated it, probably because they didn't grow up with it. Only one person said it was tolerable, but not something he'd ask for again.