With a rapidly growing multi-ethnic population, England now boasts a huge variety of international cuisine. Restaurants serving anything from Jamaican to Thai and Indian to Moroccan give visitors to the country endless choice when it comes to eating out. This cultural diversity is reflected in the fact that while good old fish and chips have served as the nation’s favourite for decades, competition is becoming quite stiff and taking the form of dishes like Chicken Tikka Massala – a hybrid of Indian recipes which have been created in England and which have infiltrated many English menus.
When it comes to the more traditional menu, however, typical dishes include roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, the aforementioned fish and chips, roast chicken, lamb and the ever- popular English breakfast (usually consisting of eggs, bacon, sausages, fried bread, mushrooms, baked beans). Cheese also features quite highly and many different types are produced in the country. These mainly include the harder varieties such as Red Leicester, Lancashire and cheddar.
Pies are popular too and the favourites include the renowned pork pie, steak and ale pie as well as the following regional specialties - Cornish pasties which are made with meat, potatoes and vegetables which are wrapped up in pastry, Lancashire hotpot and Cumberland sausage. Shepherds pie, made with minced lamb and mashed potato, is another traditional dish using one of the country’s staple foods – the humble spud. Other popular English creations include English Mustard, HP sauce and Marmite.
Cakes and biscuits are another important part of any traditional English menu and favourites include the Victoria Sponge, Bakewell pudding and Shrewsbury biscuit. Other puddings (English term given to any desert) include custard, bread and butter pudding and semolina. Watch out for those with rather bizarre names too. Spotted Dick is a sponge pudding with sultanas and raisins while a Jam roly-poly is a rolled up sponge with jam.
On the drinks side of things, Britain is well known for its ale which tends to be dark in appearance and heavier than lager. There are thousands of varieties available and breweries pride themselves in producing seasonal specialities as well as regional varieties.
Cider is also popular, particularly in Somerset and Scrumpy is commonly regarded as the best. Not many people know that there are also many vineyards in England but the climate is not really warm enough to lend itself to growing vines so the French and Italians really have nothing to worry about for the moment unless global warming goes into over drive. Other English drinks such as Gin and Tonic are also well known and Pimms, when mixed with lemonade and fruit, is a great summer cocktail.