British cuisine is often misunderstood, especially since it has changed so much at its core in recent years. However, there are some typical British dishes which have stood the test of time simply because they are so good. This cuisine used to be summed up as unfussy dishes made with local produce and basic sauces to bring out the flavours rather than disguise them, and that is still true of many British dishes. However this cuisine has absorbed many cultural influences, which is why you will find a lot of hybrid dishes with Indian, Chinese and Mediterranean flavours, among others, and this actually makes British teatime recipes and British cuisine even more fascinating.
Popular teatime recipes, those served with a pot of tea in the late afternoon, include little sandwiches, biscuits (which non-Brits might know as cookies!), cakes and savoury bites, while famous British recipes include fish and chips, steak and kidney pie, bangers (sausages) and mash, shepherd’s pie and cottage pie, the Sunday roast and the gut-busting breakfast fry-up. There are lots of regional varieties, along with English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh dishes. Some of these have geographical names, such as Yorkshire pudding, Devon cream, Welsh cakes or Cumberland sausage. Britain also boasts plenty of delicious cake recipes.
Here at TeaTimeRecipes.co.uk we are looking at not only the custom and foods associated with teatime, but also other British dishes. We have British food writers on our team so we can offer authentic recipes. Whether you are planning a traditional English tea party, curious about how British shepherd’s pie differs from the American kind, wondering how to make a British meat pie, or simply browsing for tasty recipes to make, you are sure to find plenty to whet your appetite here, from small delicate bites and snacks to biscuits and cakes, pies, desserts, meat and fish dishes, old-fashioned British recipes, and plenty more for every palate.
There is often confusion with British words, which we will endeavour to explain in each recipe and on each page. Puddings are what desserts are usually known as in the UK, while biscuits are what Americans call cookies. The word ‘tea’ refers to dinner in the North of England just to complicate things more. And then we have desserts with names like ‘Spotted Dick’ and Yorkshire pudding which is not a pudding (or a dessert!) which might require further explanation. But that is all part of the fun with teatime recipes and other British foods – finding out how on Earth some of the strange-named recipes got those names in the first place!
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Two Nations Separated by Only Their Language
Although there is some confusion about British and American words, and not only food words (think braces vs. suspenders, footpath vs. sidewalk or pylon vs. utility pole), most of the language being the same means conversations may be understood perfectly, perhaps even with a few laughs on the way. There are many differences in food terms, such as grill vs. broil, crisps vs. chips, courgette vs. zucchini, and sweets vs. candy, but our content is explained in both American and British English, so everyone can learn more about teatime and British recipes and discover how to make these delicious dishes without any misunderstandings about ingredients, weights and measures, cooking techniques or cooking equipment.
Because British food has influenced some American foods, or at least been introduced there, and the British have taken American food to heart too, there is some overlap although dishes might be slightly different. We both like fries (or chips – another different word!) but while Americans often like theirs with ketchup, the British will instead reach for malt vinegar. While American tea might be served hot or iced, perhaps with lemon, in Britain it is served in large teapots with plenty of milk. Ice tea is not so popular, at least not as popular as in some places, but perhaps that has more to do with the British weather than anything else. After all, the British consider hot tea the sole remedy for any absolutely any problem, and sure to make everything better!
British Food through History
Animal farming and agriculture techniques in the Celtic days introduced plenty of foods for the indigenous Britons and Celts, before Anglo-Saxon Britain developed techniques to stew meats and herbs, a practice which later spread to Europe. Exotic spices appeared in the Middle Ages appeared during the Normal conquest and the British Empire fell in love with Indian food. Many exotic ingredients did not become available until the 1970s and 1980s, including avocado and dishes the Brits viewed as suspiciously foreign, such as spaghetti Bolognese and chicken tikka masala. Fusion dishes such as Chinese chop suey with chips (yes, fries) and curried chicken dishes began to appear on British menus during this era.
Although British food has something of a poor reputation among some misinformed foodies, this is largely down to food rationing policies imposed by the British government during wartime, when the rationing meant so many types of food were simply unavailable. Rationing did not fully end until 1954 and rationed items included meat, butter, tea, cheese and sugar, so you can imagine how many favourite recipes just could not be made. The typical food of the era was ‘meat and 2 veg’ which was about as exciting as things got in the kitchen. Very plain home cooking was the only option during this time, although compare that to modern British recipes and you will find a huge array of modern flavours, ingredients and cooking techniques to try out.
The Joy of Teatime
Teatime is an endless fascination for everyone who is interested in different culinary traditions, because the traditional English teatime is more of a ceremony or ritual than simply a pot of tea and some nibbles. It is an occasion where everyone can dress up, make tea (known colloquially in the UK as a cuppa or a brew) and enjoy delicate little sandwiches, cakes and other bites, while discussing British things like the weather, the weather and… the weather. But all jokes aside, teatime is something everyone can enjoy if you consider it a chance to relax and chat with friends and family, enjoying some tasty little treats as you do so. Everyone loves food and making food part of an occasion is always worthwhile.
Whether you are already familiar with British recipes and looking for some new ideas, browsing for something in particular or seeking tips for having your own tea party, we hope you find what you are looking for here. Between our passion for traditional, typical English foods and the knowledge of our British food writers, our aim is to present you with a comprehensive collection of teatime and authentic British recipes, both modern and old-fashioned, sweet and savoury, and for all seasons, courses and occasions. Take a look at some of our recipes, videos and articles to get a feel for authentic British food and discover just how versatile, delicious and special this unique cuisine can be.
So, put the kettle on, and enjoy your visit,
Christine and Everyone here at Tea Time Recipes
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