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The 'Bland, Standard UK Diet': Myth or Reality? A Look at Five Favourite Traditional British Dishes
We eat the most ready meals in Europe. They are unhealthy and rarely taste as good as the alternative of cooking food fresh. People often complain that they are too busy to cook from scratch. However, more and more people are choosing to eat healthy, fresh food, inspired by celebrity chefs who are showing us that cooking doesn’t have to be difficult, or even time-consuming.
Yet Britain still has a bad reputation for cooking. The author of ‘A Fondness for Food’ even wrote about “the bland, standard UK diet”. In fact, an American girl recently asked me what food came from Britain apart from ‘fish and chips’ (a traditional favourite but very unhealthy fast-food). The answer was easy. Today the UK is one of the most exciting places for creative and talented chefs, we have some of the most renowned restaurants and some of the most famous international chefs run them With many different cultures and nationalities from all over the world meeting in the UK, some of the most exciting new flavours and ideas in cooking now come from London, not Paris (the traditional hot spot of European cuisine).
As well as blending different foods and flavours from all over the world, Britain has its own brand of traditional cooking that is anything but ‘bland’. I hope to persuade you of this, by looking at my five favourite traditional dishes from across the British Isles.
‘Bangers and mash’ with Lincolnshire sausages: ‘Bangers and mash’ is a name for a dish consisting of mashed potatoes and sausages, normally served with a gravy (a thin, warm sauce) and onions. All regions in Britain have a speciality sausage with different flavours. My favourite are Lincolnshire sausages (Lincolnshire's a region on the east coast of England). These sausages are made out of pork with sage, a delicious herb.
Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding: This is a traditional meal eaten for Sunday lunch across Britain. The beef is roasted in an oven until cooked and then sliced into thin slices. Yorkshire pudding is originally from Yorkshire, an area in the north of England, and is a savoury cake made with eggs and flour.
Haggis: Haggis is the name for a traditional Scottish dish that even many people in England don’t like! It's made in many different ways, but originally is minced lamb (young sheep) with onion, oatmeal and salt. This is boiled inside the animal’s stomach for three hours. It's very efficient as it uses all parts of the animal.
Lancashire hotpot: This is another British dish that uses lamb, named after the Lancashire region in the middle of the UK. It's cooked for a long time in a large pot with lamb, seasoning, and lots of vegetables, including carrots, potatoes, onions and leeks. Because it is cooked for a long time the meat is usually very soft, or succulent.
Welsh cakes: These are traditional from Wales, made with flour, butter, eggs and sugar, with raisins. They are normally small, not much bigger than a biscuit. We often drink a cup of tea whilst eating them, normally in the afternoon at tea-time!
ready meal (n.) - a meal that is already cooked and you only need to reheat it before eating
from scratch (phrase) - (informal) to start something from the beginning
bland (adj.) - not having a strong taste
hot spot (n.) - a popular and fashionable place
the British Isles - the group of islands that consists of Great Britain, Ireland and many smaller surrounding islands
banger (n.) - (British, informal) a sausage
mash (n.) - (British, informal) mashed potato
speciality (n.) - a food that a region is famous for and cannot be eaten in other places
sage (n.) - a herb that is used to flavour food
savoury (adj.) - salty or spicy
leek (n.) - a long thin vegetable that tastes and smells like an onion; it is white at one end with green leaves at the other
succulent (adj.) - (for meat or fruit) juicy