Over the years, Britain’s cuisine has received something of a bad press. The idea that all British food consists of overcooked meat and over-boiled vegetables has become something of a standing joke amongst the UK’s continental cousins in particular, who believe that their culinary prowess is superior to that of the chefs in the British Isles.
Those who think that there’s not much “foodie value” to be discovered in London will be pleasantly surprised, and the flavours that can be found in and around the city have something to offer just about every taste. Whether you’re looking for fresh, local food or a taste of one of the many nations that have chosen to make Britain their homes, there is an option to suit all palates.
Good, honest London food
There are some foods that are particular to London that a visitor should take the opportunity to experience. Pie and mash shops were a staple of the London working classes, and the original stewed eel pie was joined by the option of mutton pie and a steaming pile of mashed potato to make a hearty meal that sticks to the ribs.
Particular to the East London streets, Pie and Mash shops can still be found around a number of areas where a visitor to London might wish to roam. Camden, where the markets are such a great draw, and the newly fashionable area of Bermondsey in South East London have some excellent Pie and Mash shops where you can fill your belly to sustain a day of wandering around the sights.
Another staple of working class London eateries is the famous Bubble and Squeak. Usually served with a full English breakfast in the greasy spoon cafes of London’s East End, Bubble, as it is known locally, is made from mashed potato and cabbage and is shallow fried in a pan to give it a deliciously crisp exterior. It’s another local delicacy that shouldn’t be missed and again a great way to set you up for the day.
Fresh food from around the world
South London’s Borough Market is a place where refined tastes are offered a smorgasbord of flavours to sample. Open to the public on Thursday to Saturday, the market is bursting with artisan breads, fresh food to eat on the spot and a range of delicious fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish to take away and make your own dishes at home.
The vibrant and colourful market is a big draw for photographers who can find a whole host of wonderful sights to delight their lenses as well as their taste buds. Get there early for the best of the produce and the best photo opportunities.
Shoreditch melting pot
For those who want to get a real flavour of London’s culinary diversity, there can be no better place to head than East London’s Shoreditch. In a small area around Brick Lane, you can find a thriving Bangladeshi community offering freshly cooked curries and a Jewish quarter offering fresh bagels 24 hours a day.
The curry houses along Brick Lane are popular with London locals and inject some spice into the area. Even if you decide not to stop and eat, walk through Shoreditch after about 5pm and you’ll be greeted with the fragrant aroma of spices as curries are created for the night ahead.
Both the local cuisine and those of the many immigrant populations have melded in London to create the unique flavours that can be found across the city. Wherever you choose to eat, pick a local independent café or restaurant rather than a big chain to really experience the true taste of Britain.