Here in the UK, we neither have the most reliable weather in Europe, nor do we boast the fine-dining reputations of our French, Italian, or Spanish cousins. But we do know that food doesn’t have to be fancy, expensive, or served with avocado to be top notch. When you’re in London, you’ll quickly notice that you can easily go on a culinary tour around the world just by wandering around the city. However, once you step outside of the big, multicultural capital, the menu changes a bit – and that’s not a bad thing at all. Eat your way through traditional must-try dishes and become an expert on traditional UK cuisine in no time. Now, someone pass me a scone, please. #yum
1. Fish and chips
This dish is the staple of the Great British summer. (All three days of it.) Whether you’re a lover of our water-based friends or you wrinkle your nose at fish, we English cook it in a way that will make any mouth water: Simply deep-fry the catch of the day in batter and serve with a huge pile of thick-cut chips. It’s then up to you to cover it in salt and vinegar or smother in ketchup and find the nearest beach to eat at.
Try it in: Bournemouth or Brighton – the two original British seaside towns.
2. Cream Tea
If you’re visiting the south of England, aka the country’s sunniest region, it is your duty to tuck into a cream tea. For this world-famous delicacy, a steaming teapot of the brown stuff accompanies two huge scones, each lovingly topped with jam and thick, clotted cream. Make sure your phone is handy: These beautiful creations are as pretty as they are tasty, and your Instagram senses will be tingling. #EFMoment.
Try it in: Torquay, Devon – the home of afternoon tea.
Falafel may not be traditionally British, but we have truly welcomed it into our blossoming foodie culture as if it were our own. Have it on a salad, stuffed in a wrap, or hot in a flatbread sandwich, these balls of gently spiced Middle Eastern chickpea mash are delicious (and kinda healthy), no matter how you choose to devour them. Accompany the little balls of happiness with lashings of hummus and prepare to give everyone nearby food envy.
Try it in: Bristol, fresh from a bustling street food stall.
4. Cornish Pasty
A hearty Cornish pasty never fails to satisfy a hungry stomach. Beef, potato, onion, and swede are encased in a thick envelope of shortcrust pastry and then baked. To add variety, try a lamb, spicy, and even vegetarian options. This meal also makes for a hands-on experience: No cutlery is necessary as the pastry pocket holds the hot filling. Just find a local bakery, tuck in, and thank me later. Mmm.
Try it in: Cornwall (obviously), after a day’s surfing at Polzeath beach.
5. Apple Crumble
Some might call me biased, as I would eat crumble every day (even breakfast), but the humble apple crumble is THE single greatest gift that the UK has given to the taste buds of the world. Sweet apples are baked with a crumbling layer of flour, sugar, and butter to become a dish of contrasting textures and the dessert choice of kings. If offered with ice cream, demand (or ask politely) that it is served with hot custard instead, the way it is meant to be.
Try it in: Any country pub in England.
6. Chips and Gravy
If you’re making a journey into the northern half of the country, you can trade the fish and chips for a slightly different combination – chips and gravy. Yes, apparently, the meaty juices more commonly found on a roast dinner are actually rather delicious with chips. Practically everybody up north loves it, so it must be worth a try – especially if the gravy is leaking from a freshly baked steak pie…
Try it in: Manchester or York.
On a foodie tour of the UK, only the really brave should #nom their way any further north. Scotland is a truly beautiful country, but its national dish is certainly not for the squeamish: Haggis is a traditional sausage made from the stomach, liver, lungs, and heart of a sheep. This interesting pudding-like combination is then seasoned, mixed with onions and oatmeal, and encased in the sheep’s stomach (or an artificial casing). It has a nutty flavor and (believe it or not) is supposed to be pretty delicious. The recipe is ancient – you’d think they’d have come up with something nicer-sounding by now – and it’s still popular, especially when served with mashed potatoes and swede.
Try it in: Edinburgh (Especially when the Scots celebrate Burns night in January.)