Foods You Can Only Find in Britain

Cornish pasty. Source: Wikipedia.

Cornish pasty. Source: Wikipedia.

I always say I won’t click on another BuzzFeed link. Nope! I do not have time to waste. I have things to do. Places to visit. People to see. But then… I see a headline like: The 23 Greatest Things That British People Love To Eat. How in the world am I supposed to ignore this? I. Can’t. I. Must. Click. It is the British way. I’m powerless against anything posted online about my home country. BuzzFeed you win.

Once I click on a link about British food, the drooling begins. All I can think about is British food. Now, I know what you are saying. You’ve heard that British food is not so good. You are probably wondering why I would miss it. But here’s the thing…British food is hearty, stodgy, tasty, and more or less not healthy for you. Oh, you can order a salad, but why would you when you can sink your choppers in to a Cornish pasty?

Almost 5 years ago, I took my family to England. Though I was born in England and lived there off and on until I was 18, America is now my home. Aside from a couple of trips back to the U.K. in the 90s, I haven’t traveled to my home country in years. I lost my last grandparent when I was 15. I have a few aunts, uncles, cousins, and now second cousins, but my parents and sister live in the United States. I jumped at the chance to take my family to England.

While my kids and husband experienced England’s sights and sounds, I ate my way through all the yummy food from my childhood…chips…cheese-and-onion pie…Cornish pasty…Rowntree’s fruit pastilles…99er ice cream cone…Marks and Spencer’s packaged sandwiches…Walker’s crisps…Shandy…afternoon tea…full English cooked breakfast with real English sausages and bacon, grilled tomatoes, and mushrooms…Ribena…Vimto…and the list goes on and on.

A British sweetie from my childhood: Rowntree's Fruit Pastilles

A British sweetie from my childhood: Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles

Our vacation was glorious. The kids got to see where Mommy used to live, Manchester. The husband got to show the kids, London and Stratford. And I got to eat my way around England! Let’s see if I can remember all my pitstops for food:

  • I inhaled a full cooked English breakfast at the Hammersmith Novotel. Picture if you will fried eggs, English sausages, fried mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, thick bacon, toast, and strawberry jam. The kids couldn’t understand why I was so excited. But this was my first meal in Britain and ohm what a wonderful meal it was!
  • We have a tradition that when we first arrive in a new city, we hop on a double decker tour bus. London is too vast to walk. Even catching the subway or tube if time consuming. Hopping on and off the bright red double decker bus allowed us to see the sights and hear a guide narrate our travels through London. Our first stop was Westminster Abbey and the House of Parliament. Before we ventured in, I found a kiosk and purchased 5 bags of Smith’s Crisps. The kids thought they were getting a bag of chips, but there were surprised at the flavors available…Cheese & Onion, Beef, Smokey Bacon, Salt & Vinegar, and Ready Salted. We shared the bags of crisps as we wanted to try all the flavors.
  • On the second morning in London, we were in a rush so grabbed food at McDonald’s at the Hammersmith tube station. My kids and husband had Egg McMuffins, but I had English porridge. Think oatmeal but stodgier and sweeter. Mmmmm.
  • On our way back from Hampton Court Palace to catch a train back to London, we stopped for an ice cream. Not just any ice cream, a special ice cream. A 99-er. A 99-er is a ice cream cone, filled with a swirl of soft serve vanilla ice cream, topped with two Cadbury milk chocolate flakes and drizzled in raspberry sauce. The kids thought the ice cream was OK. English vanilla ice cream is more creamy and sweet. Are you sensing a pattern?
  • I guzzled a can of Shandy at lunchtime after we toured the Globe Theater and Museum. What started as a stop for sandwiches, turned in to a trip down memory lane for me. The kids were dumbfounded that I was drinking alcohol during the day. What can I say, but when in Britain do as the Brits do. On the doubledecker bus tour we saw groups of people spilling out of every single pub we passed who were drinking pints of beer and mixed drinks at noon!! Shandy is beer and sparkling lemonade served by the glass in a pub or in a can at the Pret A Manger sandwich shop we stopped at. Drinking during the day seemed so decadent and so unlike me!
  • On our last night in London, my parents ordered pizza for themselves and the kids from a local pizza shop while my husband and I searched for an “authentic” British pub. I HAD to have a Ploughman’s lunch. Searching for a pub proved to be very difficult. We found a pub that served Italian, another that featured a Chinese menu, and still another with Indian food. We were just about to give up when we found a traditional British pub. I wish I could remember the name…the Kings’ Arms, the Henry V, the Wagon and Horses? The Ploughman’s lunch was delicious…crusty French bread, three types of cheese, Branston pickle, pickled onions, lettuce, tomato, cucumber. Delish!
  • At one of our many train station pitstops, I treated the kids to candy…British candy! Crunchie bars, Rolos, Aero chocolate bars, and my absolute favorite Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles. I wanted to devour the entire roll of fruit pastilles but my kids had different plans! I made the ultimate sacrifice and gave my beloved Rowntrees fruit pastilles to my kids. I’m sure that the kids didn’t understand the degree of sacrifice. Sniff!

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