The British Isles Culinary Heritage
If there is another country’s food history that I love to delve into, it’s the United Kingdom. I know every country has its food history and I find them all so fascinating. But my heritage comes heavily from the United Kingdom so I like to explore it like I explore my own country’s food history. We are two countries tied together after all. Similar, but very different! With the crowning of the new King of England not far away either, it’s a perfect time to tap into this country’s rich food history 🙂
The United Kingdom, which consists of the countries of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, has a long and varied history. And much like the United States which has its regional specialties, the United Kingdom also has its specialties and food history that varies from place to place and country to country. From the very beginning in the foggy mists of Scotland and the time of the Druids down through the Tudor, Elizabethan, Georgian and Victorian era, the food of these countries has changed and expanded with the changing times. They were also heavily influenced by other countries that invaded them through hundreds of years and by their own empire.
What foods do you think of when you think of the United Kingdom? What stands out to you as the quintessentail English foods? Fish and chips? Pub food? Scottish bannocks? Tea? Shepherd’s pie? A full English breakfast?
I tend to think of three foods and their history when I think of the United Kingdom. Yorshire puddings, scones and Cornish pasties.
Yorkshire puddings – Yorkshire puddings are a great example of English ingenuity. Yorkshire puddings are small puddings made with meat drippings that look a lot like popovers. The recipe was first written down by Hannah Glasse in her famous cookbook called The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy. Always served with gravy alongside roast beef, they are an example of wasting nothing!
Cornish pasties – Developed by the Cornish miners, cornish pasties are half-moon pies filled with all sorts of good things. Usually filled with meat, potatoes, onions, root vegetables and bacon, they made an easy hand held lunch for the hard working tin and copper miners. When the miners were done with the inside of the pasty, they often threw the edge of pastry away. This kept them from eating the dirt and heavy metals left by their hands on the edges of the pasty.
Scones – First created in Wales, scones are so famous that they really don’t need an explanation. Americans might call “biscuits” what the English call “scones”, but really they are just a way to enjoy all the butter, jam and clotted cream that you can 🙂