The UK is far away, yet we’re so much alike in many ways. Folks from America and the UK speak the same language - although the accent may differ – and lots of the customs are quite similar. Even many of the foods enjoyed are one and the same. Surely those in the UK enjoy a hamburger and fries or a slice of cheese pizza. From breakfast cereal to beer, lots of the items consumed are equally enjoyed by those “across the pond” and those in The States.
But like nearly every country and culture, there are food items that are unique to the area or a specific group of people. And the UK is one of these places. From Black Pudding to Mushy Peas, Spotted Dick to Scotch Eggs, many favorite menu items in the UK would never fly in the USA.
As the land is best known for apple pie and hot dogs, hearing about some of the UK’s favorite dishes could cause America to lose its collective appetite. While they are popular in the UK, if you live in America, don’t expect to see these foods below at your hometown restaurant any time soon. Some are strange and some are more straightforward, but when there’s a McDonald’s on every corner, many Americans would rather eat straight from a paper bag than try one of these UK recipes.
25 Haggis – A Mixture of Sheep Heart, Lungs, and Liver with Oats and Spices
Love your oats? They are known to be part of a nutritious breakfast. Mixed with nice smelling spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, a piping hot bowl of oats fills the belly and keeps us energized from morning through night. What could be more comforting? But what if your oats were mixed with sheep’s heart, lungs, and liver? Would you still say pass the OJ? Probably not, but those in the UK simply can’t get enough of Haggis, which is the questionable blend described above. For most hungry Americans, Haggis sounds horrible. Even greasy fast food seems more gourmet.
24 Spotted Dick – Bread Pudding (of sorts) Made of Dried Fruit and Suet
While the name sounds more like a venereal disease than a decent meal, Spotted Dick is often on the menu in the UK. Why it’s called Spotted Dick is the topic of many a conversation around the dinner table, but as folks are busy talking, they are also gobbling up forkfuls of the stuff. Bread pudding-like and spongy, this UK fave is filled with dried fruit and suet. The dynamic duo of ingredients? Americans think not. Perhaps this dish is tasty, but with a name like Spotted Dick, it’s hard to wrap your mind (and lips) around it.
23 Black Pudding – Scraps of Blood Sausage
Pudding is part of lots of dessert menus, but if you see Black Pudding on a menu in the UK, don’t expect anything even close to sweet. This daring dish is actually made from scraps of blood sausage, which sounds unappealing enough, yet someone decided to call this creation Black Pudding instead. Was it to fool folks into thinking they’d be dining on something more delicious? Perhaps, but folks in the UK don’t mind spooning scraps of blood sausage into their mouths. If anyone was thinking of going vegan, the thought of Black Pudding may just push ‘em to the other side.
22 Periwinkles – Tiny Snails from the Sea
Seafood is loved by people far and wide, but when most think seafood, something like salmon or tuna comes to mind. But snails? Most Americans would say, “Pass!” But those in the UK find a dish called Periwinkles to be pretty tasty. These small slimy snails are served in the shell, ready to be sucked out and savored. Even if the broth is beautiful, the idea of slurping on snails is enough to make most people sick to their stomachs. Perhaps it’s an acquired texture and taste, but snails for supper sounds sickening. You certainly won’t find this dish at Red Lobster.
21 Jellied Eels – Just What it Sounds Like
Eels are odd enough but serve ‘em jellied and you’ve got yourself a pretty disgusting dish. Some may enjoy this chewy, gooey creation, particularly those in the UK, but Americans prefer to take their Jell-O in flavors like cherry and lime. If you’re a lover of seafood, after hearing about Jellied Eels, you may want to forget about enjoying a tuna sandwich for lunch. As for leftovers? Imagine this dish sitting overnight getting firmer and jigglier. Unless you’re starving, eating a loaf of stale bread seems far more satisfying. For the culinarily daring, go on and try it. For the rest of us, we’ll stick to fish sticks.
20 Mucky Dripping – Gravy Made from Drips and Juices from Whatever’s Been Cooked – Served on Toast
Whoever named this spread (or whatever you want to categorize it as) Mucky Dripping knew there was just no way to hide the sheer strangeness of it. Just take whatever meat or fowl that has been cooked and transform the drippings and fatty bits into a jelly of sorts, perfect for spreading on toast or slathering onto something else you’re eating. Just when you thought butter would do a number on your waistline, along comes Mucky Dripping to really put you over the edge. While this may just be the perfect “hangover food,” the gluttony that goes with it is too gross to consume on the regular. Mucky is just plain yucky.
19 White Pudding – Sausage Made of Pork Fat Scraps
There was Black Pudding, so why not offer up White Pudding too? No, this is not vanilla or white chocolate pudding. It’s not rice pudding or tapioca either. Again, this “pudding” is a sausage made of fat scraps garnered from pork. The result is a gefilte fish-like creation, chock full of fatty bits and porky parts. Slice it up and you’re good to go. Those in the UK will find this dish on restaurant menus throughout the land, but Americans would be shocked to see it on any IHOP breakfast menu. When it comes to pudding in the USA, we’re more interested in a decadent dessert than a savory sausage.
18 Laverbread – Boiled Seaweed That is Pureed to a Pulp
Perhaps you’ve tried seaweed in a Japanese dish like spicy seaweed salad or in a sushi roll. It’s pretty tasty when combined with other ingredients that bring out its natural flavor. Dried seaweed strips have caught on as well, as a low-cal alternative to fattening potato chips and cheese puffs. But the folks in the UK have their own way of serving up seaweed. They call it Laverbread, yet there’s no bread involved at all. It’s basically boiled seaweed that is pureed and served in a fashion similar to creamed spinach. Perhaps Laverbread is healthful, but even Popeye would pass.
17 Marmite – A Spreadable Made from Brewers’ Yeast Extract
What do you like on your toast? Butter? Margarine? Jam or jelly? How about peanut butter or a drizzle of golden honey? All of those options are some of America’s favorites, especially when the toast is thick and crusty, fresh out of the toaster oven. But the people in the UK prefer Marmite on their toast. This is a Brewers’ yeast extract that requires some getting used to as far as taste goes. But once you’re hooked, there’s nothing better for breakfast. At least that’s what those who eat the stuff say. Americans would rather pass the jelly than say, “Mmmm” to Marmite.
16 Mushy Peas – Boiled Overnight Peas Mashed with Salt and Sugar
Peas are a side dish nearly all of us have had in our lives. Love ‘em or leave ‘em, peas are pretty much a suppertime staple, especially in American households. But pea lovers in the UK don’t just serve theirs straight from the tin can. Instead, they create Mushy Peas, a dish made by boiling the peas overnight then mashing them to a pulp with a dash of salt and sugar. The dish winds up resembling guacamole, but no decent Mexican restaurant would ever mistake Mushy Peas for what they’re serving up. If you love peas no matter how you can get them, then Mushy Peas will be sure to please. Otherwise, why mush when they’re fine in their natural form?
15 Potted Shrimp – Soaked in Nutmeg Butter and Preserved in a Jar
A dish called Potted Shrimp sounds simple enough, but when Americans learn that these shrimp are soaked in nutmeg butter then preserved in a glass jar for who-knows-how-long, their mood for shrimp for supper subsides. Fresh shrimp is sublime. Even frozen, breaded shrimp are fun to eat. But preserved shrimp flavored like a pumpkin pie, then spread on bread? This’ll take some getting used to, particularly for Americans who would choose a shrimp cocktail off the menu without second-guessing their selection. Potted Shrimp can stay in the UK as far as Americans are concerned. Bubba Gump would gag.
14 Mincemeat Pie – Pies Filled with Suet and Mixed Dried Fruit and Peels
Americans sure love their pie. Be it apple, cherry, pumpkin, or pecan, dessert just isn’t complete without a little slice of heaven. As for the people in the UK, pies are not always so sweet. Take Mincemeat Pie as a prime example. This is more of a savory-sweet dish, made of suet and mixed dried fruit and their petrified peels. Seasoned up and spooned into a flaky pastry shell, this hot dish is a favorite in the UK. OK, so Americans have their chicken pot pie, but something about the term “Mincemeat” is less than appetizing.
13 Pork Pie – Jelly-Coated Chopped Pork Inside Pie Pastry
Yay! More meaty pies. The Pork Pie is another UK dish that takes the tried-and-true pastry shell and stuffs it with items Americans just are not used to. The Pork Pie involves jamming chopped pork coated with a gooey jelly inside a thick and doughy pastry shell. For meat lovers, this decadent dish must be quite the treat. It’s fatty and filling, perfect for a cold winter’s night when all you want is a heaping helping of comfort food. Sure, Americans go for pork (and pie) all the time, but something about Pork Pie seems off-putting.
12 Scotch Eggs – Hardboiled Egg Inside Sausage and Breaded and Deep-Fried
Nearly all Americans eat eggs. Whether they take theirs scrambled, over-easy, soft-boiled, or in omelet form, eggs are a breakfast staple that will never go out of style. Americans enjoy egg salad on sandwiches and make deviled eggs as appetizers. Even a plain old hard-boiled egg is a simple go-to for a nice dose of protein on-the-go. But those in the UK adore Scotch Eggs. These interesting creations are rather odd, yet they are extremely popular. What you have is a hard-boiled egg inside sausage meat which is breaded and deep-fried. While they aren’t the most healthful thing on the menu, the taste seems to make up for the high cholesterol.
11 Pease Pudding – Pureed and Boiled Lentils
More Pease, please? Many Americans would say, “No, thanks” to Pease Pudding, a dish of pureed and boiled lentils. This mushy mess is popular in the UK, but as far as side dishes go, many Americans would prefer mashed potatoes to Pease Pudding any day of the week. Yes, lentils are super healthful and chock-full of good-for-you stuff, but the pasty consistency of this dish is less than desirable. Even baby food looks better. If lentils are something you love, perhaps Pease Pudding will be pleasing. Otherwise, lay off the lentils and hand over the hummus instead.
10 Bubble & Squeak – Boiled Potatoes and Cabbage Fried in a Pan
Bubble & Squeak is a peculiar name for a dish, but people in the UK have gotten used to the quirky term for a dish made of boiled potatoes and cabbage fried up in a pan. While it’s cooking, the gasses are emitted from the cabbage, creating that signature squeaking sound, thus the dish’s funny name. Cute and creative? Sure, as far as the name goes. But is this dish really any good? Perhaps if it’s seasoned well enough it can pass as tasty, otherwise it sounds rather bland. Americans would choose hash browns over bubbles if they had the option.
9 Kippers – Smoked Fish Served on Brown Bread with Lemon
Kippers are fish in case you were wondering. And they’re served on brown bread with a squeeze of lemon, just like the folks in the UK like ‘em served up. By the looks of this photo, this dish had better be super delicious, because aesthetically, it’s far from mouthwatering. Surely, the Kippers are cooked to perfection and must go well with the brown bread, but there’s little chance this “Plain Jane” dish would go over well in The States. Americans look for more pizazz on their plates. Head to any American seafood joint and the dishes are smothered in sauce. Kippers would be like fish out of water at an American dining establishment.
8 Bedfordshire Clanger – Savory and Sweet Suet-Filled Pastry
Another savory pie for the UK peeps. The Bedfordshire Clanger is a favorite dinnertime meal. This savory and sweet suet-filled pastry is something like the Mincemeat Pie, yet somehow it gets its own signature title. Perhaps it’s because the pastry is crisper or the insides contain some different ingredients. Or maybe it’s due to the never-ending desire for more suet stuffed into a pie shell. When a family needs to be fed, this dish certainly hits the spot. Perhaps it’s served with a side of Mushy Peas. Now there’s a UK meal you’ll never see served in San Francisco.
7 Cullen Skink – Smoked Haddock Soup
Americans enjoy a nice bowl of New England Clam Chowder, but swap the clams for haddock and you won’t fool even the biggest fool. Cullen Skink is a weird name for a soup, but this dish is a specialty in the UK. Made of smoked haddock and apparently lots of cream and garnishes, this oddly-named soup is enjoyed throughout the UK. Have Americans seen Cullen Skink offered on a menu in their hometown? Unless the restaurant serves up UK dishes, the chances are slim to none. But if you’re a fish lover, this soup may be something to replace your chicken noodle with.
6 Sussex Pond Pudding – Pastry Shell Covered in Sugar and Butter with a Whole Lemon Baked Inside
If you have a hankering for lots of lemons, Sussex Pond Pudding would be right up your alley. This treat involves an entire lemon baked inside a pastry shell which is covered with sugar and butter. For those on a diet, this dessert is a no-no, but for those who want to indulge (and love lemon), Sussex Pond Pudding would be something to stick a fork in. It appears that the lemon is placed inside solely for flavor and aromatics, as the peel stays intact, but if you can’t get enough citrus in your life, you can probably slice right in and pucker up.
5 Soor Plooms – Super-Acidic Sucking Candies
Speaking of acidic, Soor Plooms are the UK treat that is not for the faint of heart. The taste is acid to the max, causing eyes to tear and mouths to pucker. They look innocent enough, but a suck or two will surprise anyone who is unaware of the potency of these UK hard candies. Lemon-lime is a flavor many Americans are used to, but acid isn’t something we hand out to trick-or-treaters. Soor Plooms must be fun to try for the first time and may even become addictive, but for those with sensitive taste buds, this candy is not so dandy.
4 Welsh Rarebit – Melty Cheese with Worcester Sauce and Spices Served Over Toast
Cheese lovers are all about Welsh Rarebit - a dish with a peculiar name but a taste that those in the UK can’t get enough of. This dish is made of toast that is smothered in melty cheese seasoned with spices and hot Worchester sauce. Aside from the spice, this dish is close enough to grilled cheese to get Americans on board. But the weird name must be the reason this UK staple hasn’t yet caught on in The States. And Americans sure do love their cheese…and bread, for that matter. So, the people of the UK can have their Welsh Rarebit while the Americans will stick to Velveeta and Ritz crackers.
3 Stargazy Pie – Whole Pilchards Baked in a Pastry Crust
No, this isn’t a still from a horror flick. It is a dish called Stargazy Pie, something those in the UK oddly enjoy. If the open-mouthed fish heads aren’t a total turnoff, perhaps this savory pie is appetizing. Each person can get a big slice with a full fish inside, making a portion of the pie a meal in itself. Whoever invented this pie must have had quite the imagination, but those who tried it first were the real pioneers. But now, lots of people in the UK make and serve this unique dish, no matter how much it scares the kids come suppertime.
2 Red Pudding – Mix of Meats (Bacon, Pork Rind, Suet) with Beef Fat and Red Coloring Made Into Sausage and Deep-Fried
We’ve seen Black and White, now there is Red Pudding to make it a threesome. Again, this is not “pudding” per se, it is really a sausage, this time deep-fried and served piping hot. Made with a mixture of meats like bacon, pork rind, and suet, as well as beef fat and coloring to give it a deep red hue, Red Pudding is just perfect for those in the UK who are seeking something savory. While Americans do love their sausage, this UK dish may be a bit over-the-top even for the biggest meat eaters. Delicious? Perhaps, but the health-factor is unfortunate.
1 Stinking Bishop – Cheese That Smells of Stinky Socks and Mildewed Towels
People worldwide love cheese, Americans included, but those in the UK take the cheese level up a notch with a cheese named Stinking Bishop. Why the peculiar moniker? Because this cheese stinks, quite literally. The taste is widely-loved, but the smell takes some getting used to. Some say the stench is close to that of stinky sweat socks mixed with damp and dirty bath towels. Why would anyone want to consume a cheese that reminds them of such utter nastiness? You’ll have to ask the people of the UK who are willing to hold their nose and say, “Cheese!”
References: bestlifeonline.com; britainexplorer.com; independent.co.uk; buzzfeed.com; englishlive.ef.com; metro.co.uk