5 Things You Need to Know About British Cuisine (Aside from Fish and Chips)
Unlike the haute cuisine of its neighbor France, British cuisine prides itself in being simple and straightforward. HEAT’s Executive Chef Warren Brown describes British recipes from his motherland as mainly based on beef, cabbage, potatoes, strawberries, and seafood. “Like you (Philippines), we (United Kingdom) are surrounded by ocean so we also have lots of fresh seafood dishes like fish and chips and prawns.”
To many Filipinos, who live approximately 6,754 mi away from the UK, British food is primarily equal to fish and chips. Chef Warren dispels that notion and explains their different specialties per region: Scotland is famous for whisky and seafood. Northern Ireland is famous for potatoes and Guinness. And cheddar cheese comes from an actual place in UK named Cheddar.
Nope, English Muffin is not really ‘English’.
Those halved, soft, and round toasts you usually enjoy with your McDonald’s sausages aren’t really ‘English.’ To British people, muffins are those fluffy sweet cakes that usually have blueberries and chocolate chips on top. They know ‘crumpets’ though. These flat, thicker than a pancake, holey bread are usually what you’ll find in baker shops, tea rooms, and cafes.
Chicken Tikka Masala is UK’s National Dish.
Back in 2001, then Foreign Secretary Robin Cook declared in his speech that Chicken Tikka Massala, (chicken marinated in yogurt, spices and then served with a creamy sauce) is “now a true British national dish.” According to him, UK, like USA and Canada, is an immigrant society, a melting pot of people of different ethnicities and races with “shared ideals and aspirations.” (TheGuardian.com, 2001) Marks & Spencer reportedly sells 18 tonnes of chicken tikka masala a week. And if all the chicken tikka masala portions served in Britain in one year were piled up, they would form a tower 2,770 times taller than the Millennium Dome. (Bedell, 2002)
Chicken Tikka MasalaWhen asked to confirm the popularity on the Indian dish in the UK, Chef Warren agreed and said “yes, Chicken Tikka Masala is the number one food in the UK right now. It’s not traditionally British, but we are very much multi-cultural.”
English-American English Menu Confusion
Despite hailing from the same West Germanic origin, British English and American English are quite different. The stark difference can be observed by comparing menus from the two countries. British end their meals with ‘afters’; American English call it ‘dessert’. Banger in a British menu is just sausage, usually served with fried onions and gravy. Only dark ales are called beer in Britain, they call the more commercialized and paler verison: ‘lager’. It’s chips to them what is ‘fries’ to you. What then do they call the US potato chips? Well, they call them ‘crisps’. When they ask for ‘biscuit’ they mean cookie. And ‘do me a brew’ is a request for a serving of tea.
Would You Try Spotted Dick?
British cuisine is known to have many strange-named dishes like Toad in a Hole (sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter), Bubble and Squeak (fried leftover vegetables from last night’s roast), and Stargazey Pie (Cornish dish of pilchards baked under a pastry crust) (10 British foods with strange names)
But, perhaps, the subject of the worst jokes is what Britons call the Spotted Dick. “It’s just really steamed pudding,” Chef Warren chuckled. This traditional British dessert is topped with dots of currants (hence, ‘spotted’). The ‘dick’ part of the name is reportedly an evolved diminutive of “pudding.”
HEAT, Edsa Shangri-La, Manila’s all-day dining restaurant, together with the British Embassy Manila, will hold The Great British Feast from 13 January to 9 February 2014. The Great British Feast is part of HEAT’s widespread buffet selection showcased in its interactive theater-kitchens. It is available for lunch at P1,786.40 net per person from Monday to Saturday and at P2,279.20 net on Sunday. For dinner, it is priced at P2,032.80 net from Sunday to Thursday and P2,279.20 net from Friday to Saturday.
10 British foods with strange names. (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2014, from 10 British foods with strange names: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinkpicturegalleries/9973633/10-British-foods-with-strange-names.html?frame=2528066
Bedell, G. (2002, May 12). It's curry, but not as we know it. Retrieved January 15, 2014, from TheGuardian.com: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2002/may/12/foodanddrink.shopping2
TheGuardian.com. (2001, April 19). Robin Cook's chicken tikka masala speech. Retrieved January 15, 2014, from TheGuardian.com: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/apr/19/race.britishidentity
Additional photos from HEAT, EDSA Shangri-la Manila