A “quintessential British lunch” is quite open to interpretation; indeed, replace the word British with any other — let alone Welsh, Scottish, or Manx — and there’s just as likely to be a debate.
Of the handful of times that I’ve visited the United Kingdom, save for a couple of trips to Belfast and Edinburgh, I’m mostly stayed in England. I know, I know, it shouldn’t be that way, but I’ve had to go for work, too.
Nevertheless, I’ve gotten a bit familiar with eating in the UK, e.g. finding new flavors of potato crisps, and where to find the nearest Marks & Spencer to see if they have my favorite chocolate tortilla chips in stock (obviously, they taste better than they sound; I suppose that’s why they’re never in stock).
It has become quite clear to me that, while British food, say Yorkshire pudding, shepherd’s pie, and a ploughman’s lunch, are good, the country seems to excel in the unhealthy. After all, it’s the home of Cadbury, the place where I first discovered Kit Kat peanut butter, flapjacks, and …
fish and chips.
Although I rarely eat fried foods, there’s something about the combo with the malt vinegar that really sells fish and chips to me. My first experience with that popular food was at a London restaurant called Geale’s, back in 1993.
If you’re curious about a brief backstory of fish and chips, Sephardic Jews from Portugal and Spain fled persecution in the 1500s, taking with them the tradition of preserving fish in flour the day before the Sabbath (Saturday) so that it could be cooked Saturday after sundown (cooking was prohibited on the Sabbath). Only in the mid-1800s did the meal start to grow mass appeal, when it began to be sold in Lancashire and London.
I only thought to order it with mushy peas after discovering how good they were at a Nando’s Peri Peri restaurant, only to be let down because Nando’s didn’t prepare these.
For me, however, the pièce de résistance was the sticky toffee pudding. If that were as easy to get in the U.S. as it is in England, I’d be in <<huge>> trouble.