Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Food of England

London: The Food

For those of you that don’t want to read through all my witty humor and details please scroll to the end.  There you'll find a sparknotes version of this post.  For those of you who don’t know what sparknotes is, it's the short version that just gives you the highlights.  That way you can pretend you read the whole thing if I were ever to quiz you.
                                      The Food of England
Contrary to popular belief England actually has really great food if you are willing to try things.  The traditional English food can be very tasty if done right.  The real jewel of London’s culinary scene is all the ethnic food they have.  London is to the UK like New York is to America, all sorts of people from around the world want to be there, and they bring their traditional food with them.  I’m excited to do a whole post on food because it was a big part of my trip.  For the four and a half months I was in England I forgot about counting calories and decided to try as many different kinds of food as possible.  I tried so many things in fact that I gained almost 20 pounds in England (9 kg if you’re on the metric system)!
To tell you the truth it was worth it.  For my four and a half months in England I was on my own version of a food network show.  I was such an epicurean during this trip that is a good thing I got out when I did.  Otherwise my 5’ frame would have had to have been rolled onto the plane.  I also told a few of my friends that food was my boyfriend during this trip.  I’m going to tell you the honest truth knowing that it might make me sound completely lame.  I enjoyed myself way more when I was eating the chocolate hazelnut/tiramisu gelato from Scoop than I did during any of the make out sessions I had with British guys (all on different occasions of course).  My time with the gelato was something I look back on much more passionately and memorably.  Now I’m going to go into some more detail with this amazing gelato.
The begining of the end: This picture is from my first week when Jess and I went to an Italian place in London and I got a whole pizza.  I ate half of it on the train ride back.
Scoop: gelato so good it makes you want to break dance in the streets. 
Scoop was one of those places I kept seeing in travel books and magazines as a must go to.  One day when I took a solo day trip to London I found myself right outside of Scoop and recognized the name.  I went in and ordered a large chocolate dipped cone with nuts, and alternating scoops of chocolate hazelnut/tiramisu gelato.  It was heaven.  It has to be one of the best, if not the best thing I have ever eaten.  It was so great I made sure to go back there again when my mom visited.  If you are ever in London and you like ice cream, go to Scoop, and thank me later.
Traditional British Food   
Fish and chips: Fish and chips are more than likely the most stereotypical British food.  Fish and chips consist of deep fried cod and a severing of very thick french fries.  For those of you that don’t know, the British call their french fries chips and they are almost always thick cut.  The only place I saw shoe string fries was at American fast food places like McDonalds.  Fish and chips is traditionally severed with mushy peas as well, which is exactly what it sounds like: mashed up peas.  I had fish and chips a few times but never found it that great, it was too much grease on one plate for me.
Bangers and mash: First of all, bangers and mash is just fun to say.  It’s a meal that is made up of large sausage links on a bed of mashed potatoes with gravy and onions on top. 
Cider:  Hard cider is really popular in England.  The most popular brands among college students seem to be blackthorn and strongbow.  I did enjoy a pint of strongbow on many occasions and I really miss it, though I know it accounted for at least a few of the pounds I gained.  Cider black is also really good; it’s hard cider made from the fruit black currant.  Pear ciders are also a nice treat.
Stef and me, I'm drinking a pear cider.

I got my mom to try Stongbow when she visited me

Meat pies:  I was a little afraid of them at first but they very yummy.  I really enjoyed one filled with chicken and mushrooms.  Meat pies are different from pot pies because meat pies use a flaky pastry crust while pot pies use a pie crust.  There are also cornish pastys which are another type of meat pie that is worth trying. 

Family friends Sue and Mike!

Different meat rolls and pies.

Jacket potatoes: Or what American's would call baked potatoes.  The English top their potatoes with a few different things that I was not used to.  Popular jacket potato toppings are tuna/mayo/sweet corn or baked beans.  Also, baked beans seem to go on top of anything in England.

English Breakfast: Is a plate of mushrooms, tomatoes, eggs, bacon, sausages, baked beans, and sometimes toast.  Other popular breakfast choice is spaghetti hoops, or what we call in the states spaghetti-os .  When I told one of my British classmates I thought this breakfast choice was a bit weird she said, “well you guys eat pancakes for breakfast.”  To her American's are weird for eating such sugary foods for breakfast, waffles and pancakes are dessert over there.

Spotted Dick: A dessert, a spongy/ pudding type of cake with dried fruit in it.  It's often served with hot custard on top.  I noticed that in England hot custard is kind of like how American's view ice cream.  American’s seem to put ice cream on top of a lot of other desserts or with cake just like English people do with hot custard.

Sticky Toffee Pudding:  This creation is something you must try if you go to a place that makes it well.  It’s similar to spotted dick because it too is a very moist sponge cake with finely chopped dates and prunes in it.  Yet with sticky toffee pudding they cover it in hot toffee sauce and it that was not good enough you can add villain custard or heavy cream.  Is it any surprise I gained so much weight over there?

Don't tell me you wouldn't eat that right now if you could.
Other popular British food: Rice pudding, Sunday roast, biscuits, English breakfast tea, and amazing chocolate that is far superior to mass produced American chocolate.  Also, since there are so many people from Indian in England curry and other Indian food is all over the place.  People will “go out for a curry” a lot.  Curries are even served in pubs.

Best Things I Ate Abroad

Indian food: I never thought I liked Indian food until I tried it in England.  I went into Indian restaurant, and asked them to put in my order for the dish they made best.  I ended up with a red chicken curry dish that blew my mind.

Thai Food:  I had never eaten Thai food before a few months ago and now I love it.  The curries and flavors with Thai food are so different to Indian spices.  Thai food is a lot lighter and uses a lot of sweeter flavors like coconut milk while Indian curries seem to be a lot heavier.

One of the best meals I had was black bean chicken with special fried rice in the China Town of London.  I got it to go and ate while walking around the city.  It was a good day.

At a place called Sally Lunn’s in Bath I got a hot cinnamon butter bun that was worth the trip.  This place had been around since 1482 and is known for their buns for a good reason.

I had two slices of pepperoni pizza at a place called American Pizza in Liverpool and it tasted exactly like the pizza in New York, it was perfect.

Nando’s:  I wish we had this chain in the states.  It’s a Portuguese style restaurant that specializes in chicken with peri-peri seasoning.  Since I love spicy and heavenly seasoned food it was ideal.

Pizza Express:  This is also a huge chain.  Their pizza is a lot nicer than a place like Pizza Hut but not so fancy that is like some frilly girly pizza.  I’m glad I gave in and went.

Street Food of Camden Town:  Camden Town Market is a huge market area that is open every day.  It’s literally the size of at least three football fields.  Some is inside as well or in covered areas, but it all has the feel of an outdoor market.  Camden Town had at least a hundred different food vendors and resturants.  Since street food is an addiction of mine I went there often.  Camden had everything: cupcake places, Indian Food, Mexican Food, Chinese, Italian, handmade churros that will take your breath away, mead, and much more.
Best Churros ever!  They made them right there.
nutella and strawberry crepes
Very fab burrito
To sum it up: I had a blast trying different foods, but I'd never do that to my body again.  Since I was going out to eat by myself most of the time and didn't have a fridge I ate ungodly portions.  I wouldn’t take back trying all the thing I did; I’ll just have to make sure to do it in a healthier way next time!
                                             Sparknotes Version! 
London has really good food contrary to popular belief, so good in fact that I gained 20 pounds in the 4 ½ months I studied abroad.  I now am on a strict diet and exercise plan to get it all off by the end of summer and have lost 10 pounds already!  I have not eaten a simple carbohydrate or sugar in 3 weeks so now when I see a doughnut or cookie I have to walk away like it has a gun and is about to take fire at my head.

I made it a point to try as many new foods as possible while abroad, and I went out to eat a lot too.  I decided food was my boyfriend for the trip because I would rather eat incredibly indulgent gelato in my free time than listen to a guy talk about stupid crap I have to pretend to be interested in.  Also, creme brulee does not try to cuddle with you in the middle of the night when you are trying to sleep and then get offended if you roll away.

British Food List:
Fish and Chips = greasy
Bangers and Mash = just fun to say
Hard Cider = many memoires
Meat Pies = not just for the demon barber of Fleet Street
 Spotted Dick = another fun name for a dessert
Sticky Toffee Pudding = just plain good
English Breakfast = might give you a heart attack
Jacket Potatoes = the same thing as a baked potato, except with topping like tuna and sweet corn
Their Chocolate = make ours taste like vomit
Best Things I Ate Abroad:
Indian Food, Thai Food, Chinese Food in China Town and I loved the chains Nando’s and Pizza Express.  Also Scoop’s gelato was so good it made me want to thank God for being alive.
Trying all those different food was really fun but if I ever let myself gain that much weight in that short of time again, please come up and slap me, unless I gained that much weight because I’m pregnant, in which case shame on you for slapping a pregnant woman.

1 comment:

  1. God, so jealous of you for experiencing all this amazing stuff! (Also, jealous that you have the self-control to drop 20lbs in 3 months!) Hope you keep having adventures, because I love reading about them!