The full English
An English cooked breakfast.
The full English breakfast (also known as "cooked breakfast" or "fried breakfast") also remains a culinary classic. Its contents vary but it normally consists of a combination of bacon, grilled tomatoes, fried bread, black pudding, baked beans, fried mushrooms, sausages, eggs (fried, scrambled, poached or boiled) and other variations on these ingredients and others. Hash browns are sometimes added, though this is not considered traditional. In general, the domestic breakfast is less elaborate, and most "full English" breakfasts are bought in cafs, having been replaced by cereals at home. A young child's breakfast might include "soldiers", finger-shaped pieces of bread to be dipped in the yolk of a lightly boiled egg.
English sausages, colloquially known as "bangers", are distinctive in that they are usually made from fresh meats and rarely smoked, dried, or strongly flavoured. Following the post World War II period, sausages tended to contain low-quality meat, fat, and rusk. (Reputedly the term "banger" derived from the excessive water added to the mix turning to steam while cooking and bursting the casing with a bang.) However, there has been a backlash in recent years, with most butchers and supermarkets now selling premium varieties. Pork and beef are by far the most common bases, although gourmet varieties may contain venison, wild boar, etc. There are particularly famous regional varieties, such as the herbal Lincolnshire, and the long, curled Cumberland with many butchers offering their own individual recipes and variations often handed down through generations, but are generally not made from cured meats such as Italian selections or available in such a variety as found in Germany. Most larger supermarkets in England will stock at least a dozen types of English sausage: not only Cumberland and Lincolnshire but often varieties such as Pork and Apple; Pork and Herb; Beef and Stilton; Pork and Mozarella; Sundried Tomatoes and so forth. There are estimated to be around 400 sausage varieties in the United Kingdom Sausages form the basis of dishes such as toad in the hole where they are combined with a batter similar to a yorkshire pudding and baked in the oven, this can be served with an onion gravy made by frying sliced onions for anywhere over an hour on a low heat then mixed with a stock, wine or ale then reduced to form a sauce or gravy used in bangers and mash. A variant of the sausage is the black pudding, strongly associated with Lancashire similar to the French boudin noir or the Spanish Morcilla. It is made from pig's blood, in line with the adage that "you can eat every part of a pig except its squeal". Pig's trotters, tripe and brawn are also traditional fare in the North.
Bangers and mash.
Pies, originally a way to preserve food, have long been a mainstay of English cooking. Meat pies are generally enclosed with fillings such as chicken and mushroom or steak and kidney (originally steak and oyster). Pork pies are almost always eaten cold, with the Melton Mowbray pork pie being the archetype. Open pies or flans are generally served for dessert with fillings of seasonal fruit. Quiches and savoury flans are eaten, but not considered indigenous. The Cornish pasty is a much-loved regional dish, constructed from pastry is folded into a semi-circular purse, like a calzone. Another kind of pie is topped with mashed potato—for instance, shepherd's pie, with lamb, cottage pie, with beef, or fisherman's pie. As usual, there is a vast difference in quality between mass produced and hand-made versions. Good quality pies are obtainable from some pubs, traditional pie and mash shops, or specialist bakeries.
England can claim to have given the world the word "sandwich", although the eponymous Earl was not the first to add a filling to bread. Fillings such as pickled relishes and Gentleman's Relish could also be considered distinctively British.
Kedgeree, a popular breakfast dish in the Victorian era.
In the Victorian era, during the British Raj, Britain first started borrowing Indian dishes, creating Anglo-Indian cuisine, some of which is still eaten today although many once-popular Anglo-Indian dishes such as kedgeree have largely faded from the scene. However the word meaning 'to spice' has been used since the medieval period.
Bacon and kippers
Northern European countries generally have a tradition of salting, smoking, pickling and otherwise preserving foods. Britons make kippers, ham, bacon and a wide variety of pickled vegetables. Scottish smoked fish—salmon and Arbroath smokies—are particularly prized. Smoked cheese is uncommon. Meats other than pork are generally not cured. The "three breakfasts a day" principle can be implemented by eating bacon sandwiches, often referred to as "bacon sarnies" or "bacon butties", at any time of the day or night.
Pickles, preserves and condiments
Pickles and preserves are given a twist by the influence of the British Empire. Thus, the repertoire includes chutney as well as Branston or "brown" pickle, piccalilli, pickled onions and gherkins. The Asian influence is also present in condiments such as tomato sauce (originally ketjap), Worcestershire sauce and "brown" sauce (such as HP). Because Britain is a beer-drinking nation, malt vinegar is commonly used. English mustard internationally noted for it pungency is particularly associated with Colman's of Norwich, is strongly-flavoured and bright yellow and served with meats and cooked with cheese.
Pickles often accompany a selection of sliced, cold cooked meats, or "cold collation". This dish can claim to have some international influence, since it is known in French as an "assiette Anglaise".
It is believed by some that the English "drop everything" for a teatime meal in the mid-afternoon. This is no longer the case in the workplace, and is rarer in the home than it once was. A formal teatime meal is now often an accompaniment to tourism, particularly in Devon and neighbouring counties, where comestibles may include scones with jam and clotted cream (known as a cream tea). There are also butterfly cakes, simple small sponge cakes which can be iced or eaten plain. Nationwide, assorted biscuits and sandwiches are eaten. Generally, however, the teatime meal has been replaced by snacking, or simply ignored.
Tea itself, usually served with milk, is consumed throughout the day and is sometimes drunk with meals. In recent years herbal teas and speciality teas have also become popular. Coffee is perhaps a little less common than in continental Europe, but is still drunk by many in both its instant and percolated forms, often with milk (but rarely with cream). Italian coffee preparations such as espresso and cappuccino and modern American variants such as the frappuccino are increasingly popular, but generally purchased in restaurants or from specialist coffee shops rather than made in the home. Sugar is often added to individual cups of tea or coffee, though never to the pot.
For much of the 20th century Britain had a system whereby milk was delivered to the doorstep in reusable glass bottles in the mornings, usually by special vehicles called "milk floats". This service continues in some areas, though it has increasingly been replaced by supermarket shopping. Many Britons consider their milk superior to the heat-treated variety found in some other countries.
Cheese is generally hard, and made from cows' milk. Cheddar cheese, originally made in the town of Cheddar, is by far the most common type, with many variations. Tangy Cheshire, salty Caerphilly, Sage Derby, Red Leicester, creamy Double Gloucester and sweet Wensleydale are some traditional regional varieties. Cheddar and the rich, blue-veined Stilton have both been called the king of English cheeses. Cornish Yarg is a successful modern variety. The name 'Cheddar cheese' has become widely used internationally, and does not currently have a protected designation of origin (PDO). However, the European Union recognises West Country Farmhouse Cheddar as a PDO. To meet this standard the cheese must be made in the traditional manner using local ingredients in one of the four designated counties of South West England: Somerset, Devon, Dorset, or Cornwall. Sheep and goat cheeses are made chiefly by craft producers. Continental cheeses such as French Brie are sometimes also manufactured.
Pudding consists of many original home-made desserts such as rhubarb crumble, bread and butter pudding, trifle and spotted dick. The traditional accompaniment is custard, sometimes known as crme anglaise (English sauce or English cream made with eggs and milk) to the French, however in Victorian times Alfred Bird, a Birmingham Chemist, operating from premises in New Street found that his wife much enjoyed custard but was allergic to eggs and so he invented a substitute made from cornflour and vanilla . The dishes are simple and traditional, with recipes passed on from generation to generation. There is also a dried fruit based Christmas pudding, and the almond flavoured Bakewell tart.
Another formal British culinary tradition rarely observed today is the consumption of a savoury course, such as Welsh rarebit, toward the conclusion of a meal. This now though may be eaten as a snack or a light lunch or supper. Most main meals today end with a sweet dessert, although cheese and biscuits may be consumed as an alternative or as an addition. In Yorkshire, fruit cake is often served with Wensleydale cheese. Coffee can sometimes be a culminatory drink.
Wine can be served with meals, though for semi-formal and informal meals beer, lager or cider may also be drunk.