That’s Bloody Delicious: 10 British Foods that Would Confuse Americans


Anglo-American relations on cuisine remain somewhat divided. Some of you will call a courgette a zucchini and vice-versa, whilst the debate surrounding chips is hot in some quarters, cold in others. Here are ten British foods that might confuse our American cousins with an added assurance that toad in the hole is in fact delicious, and not some bizarre, amphibious fetish.

10. Toad in the Hole

Possible American reaction: “I knew the French cooked with frogs, but wtf is this?”

It sounds like something you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy to eat, but my God the reality couldn’t be further from this. What’s not to like about sausages set in a light batter? Best served with an onion gravy. Nom.

Tasty mod: Wrap the sausages in bacon before cooking to increase both deliciousness and odds of gout.

9. Scotch Egg

Possible American reaction: “Who cooks eggs in whisky?”

The trusty scotch egg is the perfect shade of beige for a traditional British buffet. Soft-boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat and then coated in breadcrumb. They’re quick to make and also easily modded.

Tasty Mods: Turn it vegetarian by blitzing some mushrooms to a paste and using this to replace the sausage meat. Or if you’re a carnivore, try other meats like venison.

8. Brown Sauce

Possible American reaction: “That sounds too ominous to taste good…”

Brown sauce is one of the protagonists of a full English breakfast and a dollop in any sort of casserole just works. What could a colour possibly taste like? Brown sauce is basically a tomato base blended with malt vinegar and spirit vinegar, dates, cornflour, rye flour, salt, spices and tamarind. It has a fruity, peppery taste.

Tasty Mod: If making homemade burgers from scratch, use brown sauce as a binding agent. Thank us later.

7. Cornish Pasty

Possible American reaction: “Is it a kinda sweetcorn pasta?”

The Cornish pasty first became popular with the tin miners of Cornwall in the 17th century because of its shape. The crust created from folding the pastry before it was cooked served as a handle, and allowed tin miners to eat the pasty despite having dirty hands that probably contained traces of arsenic given their job. The filling of meat, diced potatoes, swede (turnip), onions, salt and pepper were consumed and then the crust discarded.

The shape and traditional filling hasn’t changed for hundreds of years, although most of us these days can now enjoy the crust thanks to improved hand sanitation. Some Americans may know what this is, especially in Wisconsin where swathes of the Cornish tin mining went to along with the pasty.

Tasty Mod: Irish it up by using lamb, root vegetables and freshly chopped mint instead of the traditional ingredients. It’s very versatile and ingredients are quite interchangeable but whatever you do, don’t stray from the original ingredients and still claim that you have a traditional Cornish pasty, because you haven’t, and the Cornish will come for you.

6. Spotted Dick

Possible American reaction: “Dude, get that off my table and go see a gynaecologist.”

A traditional British pudding with a pretty unappetising name, regardless of your standards. Suet pastry sprinkled with dried fruit and finished with hot custard. It’s tastier than the name suggests.

Tasty Mod: Use lemon or orange zest in the pastry mix to really make your spotted dick ride again.

5. Black Pudding

Possible American reaction: “I bet it’s so sweet and so chocolatey.”

It’s a dried pig blood sausage, ok? B-but you promised pudding? Hitler promised not to invade Czechoslovakia, Jeremy; welcome to the real world. The darkness of black pudding makes it a bit foreboding when you think about animal blood content, but compared to processed meats and other miscellaneous frozen products, it’s fairly straightforward and is bloody delicious.

Tasty Mods: replace sausage meat with black pudding for scotch eggs, it belongs there. Also works surprisingly well with asparagus and pancetta in a salad, with a poached egg on top.

4. Mushy Peas

Possible American reaction: “Sounds like it has a snotty texture.”

It does. If you’re heading out for traditional fish and chips and have never heard of mushy peas before, rest easy in the knowledge that your server hasn’t got the flu and sneezed into a styrofoam cup with your order, you are in fact staring at mushy peas. They taste much better than they look.

Tasty mod: Add a teaspoon of mint sauce or some chopped fresh mint. (Not a valid alternative to toothpaste). If making from scratch, use marrowfat peas instead of frozen garden peas.

3. Bubble and Squeak

Possible American reaction: “Are you sure that’s a British food, and not a tame British superhero/sidekick combination?”

Bubble and Squeak is a very working class dish that is going the way of oysters, lobster and caviar in that it is forgetting its roots and becoming completely Instagrammable, fairly elitist nosh. Now a gastropub mainstay, bubble and squeak used to be a Monday meal as the leftover vegetables and potatoes from a Sunday roast dinner were transformed into a meal for the next day. It gets it name from the noise said leftovers make when they are being reheated in a frying pan.

Tasty Mod: Add chorizo and a red chilli for a punch. Works best with leftover cabbage or brussel sprouts.

2. Marmite

Possible American reaction: “Sorry, but I don’t want a yeast infection.”

It’s yeast extract, you donkey! Although a TUB of Marmite is somewhat ridiculous. Would you order a hammock of jam? A pit of marmalade? A vessel of butter? They sound more like edgelord Indie bands than reasonable quantities of spread.

But Marmite is indeed an acquired taste, and the company even market the product as such, acknowledging this with the slogan “You Either Love It Or Hate It”. Describing the taste is hard to put into words. It’s like a thick, salty, beefy soy sauce, and that’s my eighteenth and final attempt.

Tasty Mods: Cheese on toast or “grilled cheese” is revolutionised by the presence of marmite. Another idea is to coat cashew nuts in a mixture of water and marmite (2:1) and bake for 10 minutes.

1. Crumpets

Possible American reaction: “You put holes in a pancake? Whoop-de-frickin-doo!”

You play the American pancake, we raise the humble British crumpet. They are not merely holes, you fool, but a highly sophisticated network of spread absorption modules. The crumpet is a champion of design and structural engineering. It is so structurally sound and efficient that Kevin McCloud should be making a Channel 4 documentary about it. The crumpet is actually an Anglo-Saxon invention, so authentically English with a few relatives in Germany, a bit like our Royal Family.

Tasty mods: Best kept simple with butter, butter and jam, butter and marmite or peanut butter. Did we mention butter?

Start the discussion

to comment