The foods of the United Kingdom are considered British cuisine. Because of the scope of the once-huge British Empire and the large amount of immigration to the country, there has been quite a bit of cultural influence on foods from other countries. In fact, the favourite dish of the nation is thought to be Chicken Tikka Masala, an Anglo-Indian dish. A British food shop will always have tea and certain biscuits, but it will also probably have Indian curry, suet rice, dried fruits, and other exotic ingredients.
Hundreds of years ago, there were typically only two main meals in British culture. These were heavy meals, hearty in nature. Afternoon tea grew out of the need to bridge the gap between the two meals. It started in the upper class as a “low tea,” served at about four o’clock in the afternoon in a ladies drawing room on low tables.
Commoners had a tradition of a heartier “high tea” because it happened between five and six o’clock and at the high dining table. Ordinary people in modern times often simply have a short afternoon break with tea and a few biscuits. However, the ingredients to create your own formal afternoon tea can usually be found in a British food shop.
Some of the most well-known traditional British dishes are the Sunday roast, bangers and mash, steak and kidney pie, and fish and chips. The Sunday roast was a more expensive dish and usually leftovers could be counted on during Monday’s laundry day heavy workload. Bangers and mash consists of a bed of mashed potatoes with sausages resting on top.
The sausages are called bangers because the water content caused them to explode when cooked at high heat levels. Steak and kidney pie has a filling that is made of diced beef steak and kidneys of some kind (beef, lamb, or pig) all cooked in a thick sauce with at least a top pie crust. A British food shop will sometimes have recipes and ingredients for these traditional meals.
Fish and chips, usually fried cod on French fries, can be prepared at home, but is more often purchased at a fish and chips stand, traditionally on newspaper and topped with malt vinegar and salt. A British food shop will normally have the malt vinegar needed to top this national delight. Scones are also a distinctly British tradition, especially when paired with Devonshire cream and jam and taken with tea.