Essex Food

Breakfast in England generally falls into two types:
  1. "Full English" which normally includes some or all of fried eggs, poached eggs, bacon, blood sausage ("black pudding"), pork sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms and fried bread, served with toast.
  2. "Continental", meaning cereal, toast and marmalade (or rolls and pastries with jam). In more upmarket hotels there will also be fruits and yoghurts on offer. 

Boiled eggs or smoked fish (kippers, traditionally) may be available but slices of meat or cheese will probably not. 

The above will generally be served with fruit juice and a choice of tea or coffee. 

In many hotels and B&Bs nowadays there will be an additional charge for the Full English, but if you eat everything that is on offer you are unlikley to need more than a snack at lunchtime.  If the hotel price is too expensive, then a Full English can be had in a "Greasy Spoon" cafe instead, and many bakeries (and larger supermarkets) have a few tables where you can get a light breakfast at modest cost.

Now that the most important meal of the day is out of the way, let's consider the rest.


English food in the last century was infamous throughout Europe as being some of the blandest possible, and often badly cooked as well.  However the last 20 years has seen a renaissance in quality cooking.  English cuisine has also benefited by blending cultures and foods.  Hence an English pub will happily offer lasagna (Italy), chilli con carne (Mexico), quiche (France) and curry (India) all on the same menu and probably all with chips (which, for any American readers, are French/freedom fries, not what we Brits call crisps).  The English still struggle to eat seasonal food except that Christmas menus are found from mid November to Boxing Day.  In May/June strawberries will be available locally and you may see signs for asparagus and other "pick your own" crops. 

Specialities include

  • Afternoon tea with cream scones and cucumber sandwichesEton Mess
  • Kippers (smoked herring) for breakfast
  • Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (a batter made from egg, flour and milk, baked in a hot oven)
  • Toad in the Hole (sausage in Yorkshire pudding)
  • Chicken Tikka Massala (spicy chicken with rice or various breads such as naan or chappatis)
  • Cornish pasties (a fist-sized pastry filled with meat and root vegetables)
  • Fish and chips (fried, the fish in batter)
  • Eton Mess (see picture, is a rough mixture of merangue, strawberries and cream)
  • Spotted Dick (a steamed pudding with raisins, and an old schoolboy-humour favourite - often renamed "Spotted Richard" by the ignorant)
  • Sticky-toffee-pudding (also steamed) and death-by-chocolate are just what they say

Charles de Gaulle said that it was hard to govern a country with more than 365 cheeses (he was talking about France).  British cheese makers saw a chance to make a difference and the country has now surpassed de Gaulle's target at 700 and counting.  Cow, goat and sheep cheeses, normally hard, with or without fruit, and often blue, are easily available, although unexciting, factory-made Cheddar abounds.

Vegetarian dishes are widely available and understood. Vegan is tougher to find but not impossible.  "Indian" restaurants (which are often Bangladeshi in the south of England) are worth a try if you are finding it hard to avoid meaty menus.  


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