If we’re being honest, we know that cuisine isn’t what has put Britain on the map. Well, more fool them. The UK boasts just about any dish you can think of. And, we really did invent some of the best ones ourselves.
From Scotch whiskey to the classic pork pie, let’s take a look at where some of our most famous gastronomic inventions originated (and where the best places are to try them).
Whisky is one of our favourite boozy mixers today, but it was first used as an antibiotic. Between 1100 and 1300, Scottish monks distilled barley beer to create whiskey when wine was difficult to find. When Scottish and Irish immigrants took this invention to the US, it soon became a global hit. Learn about the history and production of Scotch whiskey (while treating yourself to a few samples) by heading to the Scotch Whisky Experience museum.
Haggis is Scotland’s national dish, usually made from a sheep’s heart, lungs and liver. Other variations are a blend of minced beef with oatmeal and mutton suet, seasoned with cayenne pepper, onions and spices. It’s often served at ceremonial events, including Hogmanay, which is the Scottish name for New Year’s. Dig into some authentic haggis in Edinburgh, the nation’s capital, at an esteemed restaurant like the Arcade Haggis & Whisky House.
The Yorkshire pudding is a savoury treat that’s essentially made from the same ingredients as a pancake, yet it’s a staple of one of Britain’s favourite dishes: the Sunday roast (particularly tasty when drenched in gravy). Its origins are a bit of a mystery, though the recipe has been found in books dating back to the 18th century. It’s certainly a treat that Yorkshire folk are very proud of, and you can try home-made delights with modern twists at The York Roast Co in the city centre of York.
Kendal Mint Cake, Cumbria
This sugar-based, peppermint flavoured confection is not just tasty – it’s a fantastic source of energy. It’s popular with climbers and mountaineers because it works quickly. As the name suggests, it originated in the beautiful Cumbrian town of Kendal in 1869, and the credit goes to Joseph Wiper. Head to one of Kendal’s many confectionary stores to try an authentic mint cake. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Lake District while you’re in the area.
Contrary to what the name suggests, laverbread isn’t something you’d fill with sandwich fillings and pair with a bag of crisps. It’s a type of edible seaweed, most commonly found near the west coast of Britain. After being cooked, the seaweed transforms from brown to green, and it’s bursting with minerals. Many say it’s similar in taste to oysters and olives. It’s commonly eaten with cockles and bacon as part of a traditional Welsh breakfast. Try it where it’s usually gathered in Pembrokeshire or Carmarthenshire. Café Môr is an award-winning restaurant serving a variety of seafood delights.
Bakewell Pudding, Derbyshire
The Bakewell pudding is one of our favourite desserts here in the UK, with its delicious flaky pastry and layers of jam. While we know it originated in the Derbyshire town of Bakewell, the exact date of its invention remains debated, but it could be as early as 1820. When visiting Bakewell, try the real the dessert as it should be at The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop.
Pork Pie, Melton Mowbray
The pork pie is probably Britain’s most traditional savoury treat. Who could resist a delicious pork-filled pastry dish that goes great with just about anything? There are plenty of spins on this pie, which is a descendant of medieval meat pies, but one of the tastiest is the Melton Mowbray pork pie. This traditional recipe includes uncured pork, and it originated in the town after which it is named in 1831. Want to try one of these premium treats? Head over to Dickinson & Morris, which has been baking authentic pies since 1851.
If you’re interested in tasting some classic British dishes, along with some innovative new ones, check out our Borough Market and Gin Distillery tour. You’ll get to try the very best of British food and drink first-hand.