The Olympics of British Food: A User's Guide from a British Guy


The British Food You Guys Need To Get On Board With Immediately

indiancurry_kimubert.jpg
Flick user Kim Ubert
Bronze -- Indian Curry
I'm putting this at bronze for a few reasons -- one, I have actually seen a few curry places around North Dallas. Two, I mean, it's not strictly British, although there is a definite British mutation of it (due to high immigration from India) that has become pretty much the most popular food in Britain (chicken tikka massala, a curry found in Britain but not India, finishes top of pretty much every poll of the most loved British food). Third, I'm not actually a huge fan. I've only come round to it recently. Still, try out a chicken korma with some rice and a naan bread. It's pretty lovely.

englishcustard_flickr.jpg
Flickr user LearningLark
Silver -- Custard
Custard is GREAT. I LOVE CUSTARD. A thick vanilla paste made from eggs, which goes on desserts. Frozen custard (whatever that is) doesn't count at all. My grandfather and I used to see how thick and inedible we could make the custard, using the custard powder that somehow makes a dessert paste. It didn't pass muster until the spoon stood up in it on its own. Perfect on pretty much any dessert, especially ones with pastry, or a fruit pie. You have a lot of need for good custard. Sort it out America.

englishbreakfast_flickusertim.jpg
Flickr user ttimlen
Gold -- Bacon
Right. This is controversial. It's not going to go well for me. I anticipate the comments section turning into a flame war. However, I have checked with Richard and we both agree. Basically, America, your bacon sucks. Well ... it doesn't suck. It's just not the optimum bacon. It could be so much better. European bacon has not only the strip of marbled fat you call bacon, but a proper medallion of meat. It is a much better cut. It makes for a better sandwich. I think, what it is, is that American bacon serves a different function. It needs to be kind of sweet, and often an accompaniment for waffles and pancakes and maple syrup (which, don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of. I think Waffle House is the American establishment I most frequent, whereas Brits will recoil in horror at the thought of such a flagrant combination of sweet and savoury). British bacon is, essentially, American bacon with more meat and less fat. You can't get mad about that. Right?

By way of balance and as some closing thoughts, here are things America does which are great. Steaks -- you cannot get a properly cooked steak in Britain. The first time I had a medium-rare steak over here I almost cried with happiness. Hash browns -- I had no idea these were a thing. Great work America.

Mexican food -- not at all popular in Britain. Wonderful, if essentially the same foods in different packages. The alcohol selection and quality is excellent. America really knows how to get drunk in style at a reasonable price. Sushi -- again not so popular or so good in the UK. Vietnamese food, Korean food, the same. Doughnuts -- do exist in the UK, but nowhere near the quality or number.

I hope you all enjoy watching the Olympics. There will be a lot of rain, a lot of stereotypical British things, a lot of village idiots (watch out for the Mayor of London, he's an actual cartoon character made flesh), and, critically a lot of tea. Because you can't beat a good cup of boiling hot tea, milk, two sugars, and a digestive biscuit to dunk in it. Long live British cuisine!

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44 comments
joshWAH__
joshWAH__

Mince Tatties and some donner fries. best hangover cure.  

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

British recipe.  Put anything in a pot.  Boil the taste out of it.  Serve to someone too drunk to care.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Article is entertaining, but Daughter just returned and must say she was most definely not a fan of British Food

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Speaking of the Olympics, Romney made a complete ass of himself, embarrassed America, and offended the Brits with his comments about their preparations for the Games.

J_A_
J_A_

I learned so much. Please don't stop writing for the Observer.

t.poulton
t.poulton

Bonjour Gavin, it's your old drummer! I'm living in Chicago at the moment and your voice of truth in all things British fills the hole that American 'bacon' leaves in a bacon and egg butty! Don't get me wrong, bacon is bacon, it's like saying Charlize Theron isn't as good as Kate Beckinsale, you know which one you'd rather have but they both make you dribble!

 

also:

a) Custard is the food of the gods (there's a reason they called it Ambrosia)!

b) I would suffer eternal damnation in hell to have a full on English breakfast right now.

c) For the American audience, Brown Sauce is sort of like a thicker, better version of Als Steak Sauce from what I can tell?

 

Keep them coming Gavin!

PerryMoore
PerryMoore

Can't understand why we have so few restaurants serving British cuisine over here. And how do you guys keep all those great football players on that side of the Atlantic?

Mervis
Mervis

I need a big plate of BBQ.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

I enjoy your EPL thats transplanted over here on TV, and other than Top Gear (the british version), the Arash AF-10 and British Airways, you can keep the rest

Flubber
Flubber

Or just go to Fortnum's.  Great place.  Best in the World.  

littleloo
littleloo

I don't understand the beans on toast for breakfast.  Please enlighten me.  Beans are great, just don't understand how they come into play for breakfast?

merritt6
merritt6

Big fan of this. Love British food. But now, Gavin, please tell us where the best restaurants are for finding dishes so I don't have to make them! Also, how am I merritt6? That's just weird. And for the record I prefer odd numbers.  

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Breakfasts are good.  But, go to ethnic restos for decent food.  Skip the nasty bangers and mash and all that other chazzerei.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

please open your 'proper chippy' here. right next to one of those fancy pants places with a one word name. promise i'll take my friends there.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

British food is a darn mess.........look at those foods.  I'd be heading to "Macdonald's" for all my meals!

ScottP
ScottP

I love British food, both here at pubs and there. Nothing better than a visit to England and when it's cold, cloudy, rainy and a bit dreary; a traditional dish and a few pints couldn't be better. Sunday Roasts are magical.

 

But after a few weeks there last fall, I was crawling on the streets gasping for some iced tea with plenty of ice, some spicy food (couldn't get much spice even in Indian restaurants) and some margaritas and mexican food.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Love British food, love the post. I really wish Pret A Manger would open up some locations here. NYC, DC, and Chicago shouldn't get all the fun.

 

I plan to drink many, many drams of Scotch in honor of the Olympics in Britain.

nick.rallo
nick.rallo moderator

Gavin, what is a traditional presentation of Spotted Dick? (No, really asking)

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

What's it like to be obsessed by a single boogeyman for all issue and all topics?

GavinCleaver
GavinCleaver

 @JaniceA I'm going to keep writing until they make me stop or I get deported, whichever is sooner.

GavinCleaver
GavinCleaver

 @t.poulton tommy p! you raise some good points. And you can make your own full english, you just have to look in the right places, and spend a lot of money. When are you coming down Texas way?!

GavinCleaver
GavinCleaver

 @PerryMoore We don't have any of that salary cap nonsense that keeps the league fair. And all our good athletes don't end up playing American football/basketball/baseball.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

 @littleloo SOMETHING RIGHT OUT OF "BLAZING SADDLES" COWBOY ROUNDUP CATTLE DRIVE CUISINE

GavinCleaver
GavinCleaver

 @merritt6 If I ever find a restaurant over here that serves the food I have described, I will tell everyone about it. I'm not holding my breath.

Mervis
Mervis

 @merritt6

 You can edit your profile and change your name.

GavinCleaver
GavinCleaver

 @ScottP I was trying to think of someway to get a traditional Sunday Roast in there, but I'd already overrun by some way. I do make a mean roast dinner, though.

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

 @ScottP I've felt your pain. The closest Ice tea I've ever found is at Friday's in the departure area at Heathrow  Airport!

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

 @ScottP

 

" I love British food"  ........oh boy.  You probably like 300 pounders, with pock marked upper thighs.  I believe they call that "hail damage".  

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

 @Sotiredofitall Romney the Blunderer goes on to the Middle East next. We'll be lucky if he doesn't start another war over there.

Twinwillow
Twinwillow

 @Flubber I've lived in England. They also love their (Heinz) baked beans in a jacket (baked) potato!

dixiechickidie
dixiechickidie

 @GavinCleaver  @nick.rallo I'm so curious about Spotted Dick. Really because of the possibility of having a pudding mold collection. I wonder how hard it is to find beef suet here in the States...

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