45 Common UK Meals That Make Tourists Question British Taste Buds
When people talk about the most popular cuisine or the cuisine with the most influence in the world, they often include Thai, Italian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, French, and Moroccan. You’ll likely never hear British foods mentioned. It may not be as revered or as loved as dishes from the other cultures we previously mentioned, but it has some great things to offer.
However, it also has its share of dishes that are considered odd or downright bizarre by people from other parts of the world. Potato chip sandwiches or excessive jam? How about putting spaghetti on your toast? Stick around and find out what foods are considered commonplace by the Brits but are otherwise odd to the rest of the world.
#1 Pairing tea with custard cream
The Brits can’t live without tea and to them, life wouldn’t be worth living without tea breaks. Of course, tea for the Brits can only be taken with a variety of English biscuits and one of the most popular is custard cream.
What is custard cream? It’s a pair of biscuits that comes with a creamy, vanilla custard-flavored filling. Not only does it taste quite good, but it also comes in various intricate designs that date as far back as Victorian times.
#2 Laverbread on toast is a must
Laverbread is to Wales what vegemite is to Australia. Vegemite has got quite a reputation all over the world. The thick, dark brown spread is popular in the land down under, but most people who are not from Oz don’t like it.
Laverbread, on the other hand, is named after the main ingredient — an edible seaweed known as laver. Not such an appealing thought to outsiders as something to spread on your toast, but it’s a huge part of Welsh cuisine. Only one thing we can say, we’re not moving to Wales. Sorry.
#3 Mushy peas anyone?
What’s the appeal of mushy foods? You must be asking the same question as most people who don’t enjoy consuming “mushy peas.” Anything mushy doesn’t appeal to most people’s palate. Aside from being mushy, it’s also bright green — another thing some tend to avoid.
Mushy peas are available in cans in groceries all over the UK. Traditionally, it’s served with fish and chips but it can also be eaten with other British meals. Unlike many other entries on this list, you can probably concoct this at home if you live outside of the UK.
#4 Excited to eat Scotch eggs?
In short, it’s a boiled egg that’s wrapped in sausage meat and coated with breadcrumbs that’s then either baked or deep-fried. The Scotch egg is another common food for the Brits which make people elsewhere say “Huh?” but it’s commonly offered in pubs and at picnics.
Nowadays, there are more trendy versions of Scotch eggs, but the most beloved is still the traditional method of preparing the dish. As for non-British diners, the feedback is generally negative. We have to give those people credit for trying something new, though.
#5 Beans, beans, and more beans
Most people would not pay so much attention to baked beans on grocery shelves, but it is a popular and staple food in the UK. Brits just can’t live without baked beans! In the UK, they generally come in tins with sweet tomato sauce.
Most Brits love to put their baked beans on top of piping hot, buttery toast, but they can also be eaten any time of the day. Believe it or not, some Brits even put them inside baked potatoes. What’s weird for some people is heaven-sent for others.
#6 Yorkshire puddings anytime, anywhere
A baked pudding made from a batter of eggs, flour, and milk or water, the Yorkshire pudding is an adaptable food that can be paired with any dish. If used as a first course, it’s often served with onion gravy.
If you’re from the US, that’s probably not what you’d call pudding. For most Americans, the definition of a pudding is a sweet dessert that’s made of milk or fruit juice that’s been thickened with cornstarch, eggs, tapioca, and other ingredients.
#7 Time for some chips and curry sauce?
If you didn’t already know, “chips” in the UK are called “French fries” in the United States. Sorry Americans, but since we’re talking about British food, we’ll use their lingo from here on out. While most people in various parts of the world enjoy their chips with ketchup, Brits don’t.
A few parts of the UK love to order their chips covered in curry sauce. Yup, you read that right. It’s a commonplace late-night stack in the country, whether at home or when out. What does it taste like? Beats us; we haven’t tried it yet.
#8 A can of Vimto to go with your snack?
Ask any Brit and they will tell you that they have tried a can of Vimto at least once in their lives. Vimto is a soda made from grapes, blackcurrants, and raspberries. It’s very sweet, though, and is not advisable for people who have diabetes.
The soda can be bought in bottles or cans, and it has even been made into candy. Everyone loves it, from adults to children. Although, in our opinion, we don’t think children should be consuming it because of the high sugar content.
#9 Branston pickles go with cheese sandwiches
According to a survey, more than 40% of Americans say their favorite way of consuming pickles is on a sandwich or burger. The second most popular way of consumption in the US is straight from the jar. This makes pickles in cheese sandwiches not a distinctively UK thing.
However, Brits pick Branston pickles, a brand founded in 1922 in a village of the same name in England. The Brits love to pair the pickles with strong cheddar cheese and eat both in a sandwich. The pickle comes in many varieties.
#10 After laverbread, here comes marmite
After talking about vegemite and laverbread, another contender comes in the world’s worst sandwiches category. Marmite is a British food spread, though it was invented by a German scientist. It’s made from by-products of beer brewing and is produced by Unilever.
Most Brits look at marmite as their savior, especially when they are hungry and badly in need of an easy sandwich. If you want to try it, make sure that you put only a small amount on your toast as it has a strong taste.
#11 Colin the caterpillar cake is a must for birthdays
How would you react to receiving a caterpillar-shaped cake at your birthday party? Are you having difficulty imagining it? Well, you don’t need to. Just look at the picture below. That’s Colin the caterpillar, a creation of the British supermarket chain Marks & Spencer.
Colin the caterpillar is a chocolate sponge roll cake covered with chocolate buttercream and sprinkled with chocolate shells. However, we just think it’s a little weird to be receiving such a cake if you’re in your forties. Perhaps children would like it, but not adults.
#12 Brits can’t live without red Leicester cheese
The method for making cheddar cheese is similar to that for the English cheese, Red Leicester. The Brits love putting it on their sandwiches, toasts, and pies. Reddish-orange in color, it comes close to cheddar cheese in popularity, but has a crumblier texture.
The traditional hard cheese is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and is even put inside baked potatoes. Most people globally have not heard of it, but if you’ve been to the UK, there’s a big probability that you’ve already tried it.
#13 This is what the holy trinity consists of for the Brits
Lasagna may be an Italian dish, but it is popular all over the world — including in the UK. Schools, restaurants, and eateries everywhere serve it. Although what they have in the UK may not be authentic, the Brits still love their version of lasagna.
The Brits especially enjoy it with chips and garlic bread. “That’s a lot of carbs,” most people might say, but the British don’t care. It makes them full, gives them happy feelings, and satisfies their hunger. You’ll have more than enough energy for the next few hours.
#14 Spaghetti on toast?
Spaghetti, as most people know, is a long, thin, solid pasta that’s cylindrical in shape. It’s a staple in Italian cuisine and, like most other pasta, is made from water and milled wheat. However, the kind of spaghetti that Brits like on their toast is different.
They like the tinned spaghetti hoops. It has a look and texture that’s similar to beans, which they also love on toast. We see a pattern here folks, do you? Interestingly, tinned spaghetti comes in various shapes, such as the alphabet.
#15 Do you also eat jelly with ice cream?
Have you ever tried ice cream with jelly? Neither have we because it’s not a very appealing thought, but it is something Brits enjoy a lot. Mostly served at children’s parties, the jelly that’s served with ice cream is a gelatin type, much like Jell-O.
The vibrant bowl of sweetness has become a traditional English dessert. So, if you ever find yourself at a children’s party in the UK, make sure you try it. Don’t even think about your age; you’ll enjoy it as much as the kids.
#16 Have you ever tried Viennetta ice cream?
Made from reconstituted skimmed milk, water, sugar, glucose-free syrup, coconut oil, fat-reduced cocoa powder, and other ingredients, Viennetta ice cream was introduced in North America in the 1980s under the Breyers brand. But it’s history in the UK dates back longer than that.
Families in the UK have been enjoying the dessert for decades. They would gather in front of it and crack the chocolate topping and slice it into the ice cream. Go to the frozen section of any grocery in the UK, and you’ll find it there.
#17 Prawn cocktail chips, anyone?
Crisps, or potato chips as Americans know them, are a popular food in the UK. Brits love their crisps and as such, companies in the country have come up with a variety of flavors. One of the weirdest flavors for foreigners but most beloved by Brits is the prawn cocktail.
Prawn cocktail was a very popular dish in the 1970s, and is still prevalent in the country today. One of the most famous brands that offer prawn cocktail crisps is Walkers; they fly right off the shelves. If you don’t have any dietary restrictions, it’s an easy thing to try if you ever visit the UK.
#18 Soldiers in boiled eggs?
Who doesn’t love eggs? They can be prepared in a variety of ways, and the cook time isn’t usually too long. Eggs are some of the most popular food all over the world; loved and enjoyed no matter the country or culture.
Soldiers in boiled eggs, also called dippy eggs and soldiers, are popular in the UK. We don’t mean real soldiers here, but slices of toast that are dipped in a soft-boiled egg. Not very appetizing to some people, yes, but when you’re in the UK, you gotta do as the Brits do.
#19 Anyone up for a chip butty?
“What in the world is a chip butty,” you might be asking. Apparently, the popular fish and chips dish has a burger version. Though oddly named, it’s a great alternative if you don’t have the appetite for a full cod.
Essentially, chip butty is hot fries stuffed in a buttered bread roll. Ideally, the fried chips should come straight from the fryer and be covered in vinegar and salt. Wonder what that tastes like? Or have you tried it? What did you think of it?
#20 Fish finger sandwich
Do you always drop by the fast food chain if you head home late at night and are simply too lazy to make dinner? Or do you stash something in your freezer that is easy to prepare in the event you don’t feel like heading out?
Next time, you can try what they call a Bird’s Eye fish fingers. It’s just fish fingers put between two slices of white bread — like a sandwich. You can put on ketchup or mayo, or perhaps even both, to make it tastier.
#21 Dino dinner
For our next entry, we have frozen food that’s arguably the easiest meal to prepare for school-night dinners. As much as mothers want to prepare elaborate meals made from organic and fresh, local produce, it’s just impossible at times, especially for working parents.
Potato smiley faces are easy to prepare, and they have a certain look that will make children want to gobble them up. Of course, you also need protein, and here come turkey dinosaurs. Who wouldn’t want to eat dinosaurs for dinner?
#22 Would you want crisps in your sandwich?
Everyone loves crisps — or chips, as Americans call them — and people reach for them if they want something to snack on during work breaks or while watching their favorite shows. They may be unhealthy, but they taste good.
However, Brits have this quirk of putting crisps between two pieces of bread. Yes, you got it right; they like crisp sandwiches. If you want the best result, they even recommend that you use white bread with cheese and onion crisps.
#23 They like to eat scraps
No, we don’t mean inedible scraps but rather little shards of batter that Brits seem to love so much. These batter bits are left over in deep-fryers after frying fish, sausage, or other types of food. These leftovers are given to customers at no additional charge.
Scraps and chips with gravy is very popular all over the country. Scraps go by various names throughout the UK. For instance, in Northern England, scraps are called dubs or bits, but in the western part, they are known as gribbles.
#24 Can we interest you with some soda with jam and butter?
The UK is diverse because it is not just a single country. It is actually made up of four nations — England, Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. The diversity in the cuisine, preferences, and culture make it one interesting place.
If you have been to Northern Ireland, there’s a big chance that you’ve come across soda farls and filled sodas. Soda farls are made from flour, buttermilk, salt, and baking soda. Once baked, they love to fill it with bacon, fried egg, and sausage.
#25 Most people know chips with gravy
Some British foodie quirks are as esoteric as quantum physics concepts, but a few are quite known all over the world. For example, chips and gravy. Most people have heard of it, tried it, or have their own version of it.
However, gravy used for chips by the Brits tends to be lighter and has a thinner consistency compared to what you would get if you purchase Chinese takeaway. But either of the two is ok with us. We’d eat both.
#26 British desserts are unique
One thing is for sure — Brits love their ice cream. And it’s something that figures prominently in their desserts. One legendary and well-loved Brit dessert is crumble custard and ice cream. It can be either sweet or savory, but is most often sweet.
Crumble toppings didn’t gain popularity until after the Second World War. Made with sugar, butter, flour, and sometimes nuts and oats, it was deemed to be a cheaper alternative to traditional pastries. Some of the most popular crumbles are apple, blackberry, and plum.
#27 Corned beef on a sandwich?
Made with beef brisket, corned beef comes from a cut of beef that’s inherently tough, so it has to be cooked with moisture at a low temperature. When cooked right and slow, you get corned beef that’s tender and flavorful.
However, in the UK, “corned beef” is slightly different. It means minced meat with some gelatin, and they like to eat their corned beef in a sandwich. They have a different kind of name for their corned beef, too — bully beef.
#28 Heinz, who?
While most people all over the world swear by tomato ketchup, especially Heinz, the Brits would raise their eyebrows and say, “Heinz, who?” In the UK, the sauce brand HP dominates the market. Colloquially, it’s known as the “brown sauce.”
Apparently, the sauce was named after London’s House of Parliament, hence the brand HP, and it has been around for a long time. Vinegary with a tomato base, it’s used on a variety of things including sandwiches and shepherd’s pie.
#29 Lea and Perrins on toast?
Lea and Perrins is a sauce that’s been enjoyed for decades. Lea and Perrins were chemists from Worchester, who invented the sauce in 1835. Today, it is a staple in British kitchens and is used commonly as condiment or marinade.
But the Brits also enjoy it on their toast. We’re not even joking. They grill strong British cheddar, put it on toasted bread, and put a dash of Lea and Perrins Worcester sauce. Hey, don’t knock it till you try it.
#30 Carbs with a side of curry
Indian cuisine is one of the most beloved in the world. The Brits have a fondness for Indian cuisine and this can be explained by the fact that India was part of their empire for a long time. Without a doubt, one of the most popular Indian food in the world is curry.
Brits love their curry with carbs, and it is normal over there to order curry with a massive amount of carbs in the form of rice and chips. If you want to sound British when ordering, just tell them you want a half and half.
#31 Iced buns don’t come from the freezer
When we hear the word “ice,” most of us think of something cold or frozen that likely came right out of the refrigerator. However, that’s not what an iced bun is in the UK. An iced bun is a hot dog bun that has white icing on top.
We see you shaking your head but it’s something enjoyed by Brits of all ages. Some people even put butter on their iced buns. We have got a tip, though, if you want to save money — buy it from the grocery store in packets.
#32 The name alone makes a lot of people wary
Some of the most unique, and often described as disgusting food, in the world are balut from the Philippines, Hakarl or fermented shark from Iceland, fugu from Japan, and fried tarantulas from Southeast Asia. The UK also has a few things which they can proudly add to that list, Haggis!
Haggis is a savory pudding made from sheep offal. Again with the pudding! It’s Scotland’s national dish and is a must-try if you find yourself there. It’s commonly served with mashed swede and potatoes, otherwise known as neeps and tatties.
#33 Ever tried a butter pie?
Butter pie isn’t what you think it is. It is a savory traditional English pie that’s made with onions and potatoes. It’s commonly sold in corner shops, sandwich shops, and chip shops in Lancashire, in the northwestern part of the country.
However, the fillings of the pie vary according to region. It was originally made by people who refused to eat fish on Fridays, which was the Catholic custom back in the day. Most people may not see the appeal of a pie filled with potatoes and onions, but it’s a winner for Brits.
#34 How would you like to gorge on some toad?
The Brits can’t seem to run out of food quirks which would be considered downright weird in other parts of the world. This next entry on our list is called a Toad in the Hole. No, we’re not referring to amphibians. It’s a dish where you place sausages in a tray of Yorkshire pudding batter.
Once cooked, the batter will rise around the sausage. Toad in the Hole is commonly enjoyed with veggies and onion gravy. People in the 18th century saw this as a way of prolonging the life of their meats. As we all know, there were no refrigerators back then.
#35 They don’t run out of bread made from potatoes
The potato is a staple food in the UK; it is to the UK as rice is to Asia. Various pieces of bread made from potatoes are eaten across the country including potato cakes, tattie scones, boxty, and potato farls. Yes, most people don’t understand what half of those things are.
Even today, potato bread is still common and very much enjoyed by the majority of the population. Not only does this bread remind them of home and bring them back to the good times and places long gone, but it also gives them warmth and comfort.
#36 This is what a breakfast should look like
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it’s where you’re going to get much of the energy to commute, do your job, and get through the rest of the day. A few people also say that your meals throughout the day should resemble an inverted pyramid.
You should eat the most during breakfast and the least for dinner. Well, if this is the kind of breakfast they have in the UK, our hearts are happy. Called the “full English,” it consists of bacon, eggs, sausage, chips, and beans. Not going to argue with that; it’s music to our ears.
#37 Who wants crumpets with lots of butter?
We raise our hands in answer to that question because we know we would be delighted to stuff those things in our mouths. The crumpet is one of the most popular bread varieties in the UK; but instead of being made from dough, it’s made from batter.
The English like to eat their crumpets by popping them in the toaster and putting a lot of butter on top, again something that we really like, so we’re not going to complain about that. This is something that we’d eat any day.
#38 Grab a sausage roll if you’re in a hurry
Judging from the food we have seen on this list so far, it’s evident that the Brits love their sausages. One of the most popular takeaway foods in the country is a sausage roll. It makes for a food meal, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
It’s perfect when you’re in a hurry and don’t have the time to sit down and have a lovely meal. It’s filling, it’s cheap, and it’s convenient — something most of us need in today’s world? Buy it at a shop and they’ll even heat it up for you.
#39 Rarebits, anyone?
For our next entry on this bizarre food list, let’s turn our attention to Wales. They need some recognition too and their version of the cheese toast is a champion in our books. Everyone, meet the Welsh rarebit — yes, most people read it as “rabbit” the first time.
It’s an 18th-century dish that has a sauce made up of mustard, Worchester sauce, paprika, or Cayenne pepper. The sauce is poured on top of a slice of toast that’s been grilled. The Welsh rarebit is commonly served with bacon and fried egg. We’re bacon lovers, so it’s a yes for us.
#40 A very decadent roast dinner
In the UK, it is a tradition for families to have either Sunday lunch or roast dinner. Not only is it a chance to catch up with each other, but it’s also an opportunity to fill one’s stomach with delightful food. They mostly go to the local restaurant and get a big plate of food.
It’s a requirement to bring a huge appetite because the roast dinner consists of roast meat that’s either chicken, beef, or pork, a variety of potatoes, and roast vegetables, the most common of which are carrots and cabbage. Oh, and of course, gravy.
#41 Sealed toasties
Sandwiches are perennial favorites all over the world because they’re tasty, easy to prepare, and the ingredients don’t cost much. The French love their croquet monsieurs, Americans love their grilled cheese sandwiches, and the Brits love their sealed cheese toasties.
They make the sandwich using a toastie machine, hence the name. This also results in a sandwich that has sealed edges with fillings that can burn your tongue. The bread is also buttered on both sides making them sizzle when they touch the toastie.
#42 Everyone loves bacon
As nasty as it may sound to vegans and vegetarians, bacon is a staple in many people’s diets. You can never go wrong with a thin, slice of pork meat, whether eaten alone, with eggs, or with a variety of carbs such as chips or bread.
Bacon butty, or bacon sandwich as most people know it, is eaten with regular white bread or a soft white roll. Most Brits eat their bacon butty with ketchup, while others may prefer the HP brown sauce. Either way, bacon butty is still a winner.
#43 Batter on everything
If you haven’t noticed it yet, we’ll state the obvious, Brits love batter. We’ve already talked about scraps, but here is another staple food in the UK that involves batter, fish, and chips. Fish and chips were so important to the country that their supply was protected by the government during wars.
The traditional batter is made with flour that has a little vinegar and water. Batter can be found on just about everything aside from fish. They also have battered Mars Bars. Yes, we’re talking about the chocolate bar and battered sausages.
#44 Clotted cream for the win
As people who’ve been to Turkey and have tried their version of clotted cream with honey, also known as kaymak, we always grab any opportunity or excuse to consume clotted cream. And if we ever find ourselves in the UK, this is one of the foods we’re going to eat.
Do you know where Brits love to food their clotted cream? On scones! A tea party has to be in order when you visit the country because it’s the perfect time to drink tea and consume dollops upon dollops of clotted cream.
#45 Black in food doesn’t seem so appealing
Ever seen one of those little back puddings during your visit to the UK and got curious? If you haven’t had the chance to taste it yet, it’s a regional type of blood sausage made from either pork or beef. It also contains cereal and pork fat or beef suet.
It’s sliced and fried and is considered a delicacy in the UK. As gory and as unappealing as it may sound, people swear that it’s actually delicious, and we’re talking about people who are not even from the UK. If you have a strong stomach, you should give it a try.