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Have you tried these weird and wonderful British foods?

When you think of unusual or exotic foods, Britain might not be the first place your mind wanders. Yet the British Isles presents a smorgasbord of strange delicacies, alongside more well-loved foods we all can't get enough of.

Have you tried these weird and wonderful British foods?
'Toad in the Hole' doesn't include amphibians as an ingredient - but there are plenty of other peculiar British foods. Photo: Getty Images

Together with online supermarket, British Corner Shop, we take a tour of some of the UK’s most distinct dishes – and reintroduce you to some perennial classics. 

Icky ingredients 

If you think the French have the market cornered on strange delicacies, think again. Brits have long enjoyed some truly odd grub. 

Britain’s existence as a collection of islands has meant that the sea and rivers flowing into it have long provided a wealth of food – and some are less familiar to outsiders than others. 

The Welsh, for instance, love laverbread, a dish made of shredded and stewed seafood, and traditionally served at breakfast with bacon and tiny shellfish called cockles.

Londoners have also lived on cockles since Roman times, and the Thames is littered with their empty shells, tossed in by snacking locals. Another favourite taken from the Thames are jellied eels. This dish consists of chopped freshwater eel, boiled in stock and allowed to cool into a jelly. Amazingly, it’s considered at its best served cold!

Off the coast of Norfolk and Suffolk, fishing fleets have been bringing in loads of herring since the Middle Ages. While many herring are eaten fresh, others are aged and smoked in giant sheds that can be smelled long before they can be seen. Slice one of these smoked herring down the middle and you’ve got that classic breakfast treat, a kipper! 

Further inland, there are more strange snacks being enjoyed. There is, of course, the famous Scottish haggis – sheep’s organs minced and cooked inside the stomach of the animal. Such is the popularity of the dish, there are now vegetarian versions available. 

Not in the mood for eels or haggis? British Corner Shop can deliver over 6000 other British goodies directly to your door

Traditional pork pies often seem quite strange to non-Brits, with the filling inside the crust surrounded by pork jelly, made from boiled pig’s trotters and other connective tissue. In fact, some Britons think this is the best part! 

Perhaps the weirdest British delicacy of all, however, is the humble Stilton cheese – albeit a version covered in cheese mites! In centuries past, the presence of these tiny mites used to be highly prized, as it was believed their burrowing into the rind of the cheese imbued it with a special flavour. 

As the famous author Daniel Deoe wrote during his travels in the 1720s, “…we pass’d Stilton, a town famous for cheese, which is call’d our English Parmesan, and is brought to table with the mites, or maggots round it, so thick, that they bring a spoon with them for you to eat the mites with, as you do the cheese.”

Would you try a slice of mite-y cheese? 

Naughty nicknames 

For every British dish with a strange ingredient, there’s another with a peculiar name – whether odd, misleading or just plain rude. 

The particularly descriptive spotted dick, for example, is a suet pudding containing dried fruit. The name comes from the appearance of the fruit in the dough, or ‘dick’ as it used to be called. 

The similarly memorable toad in the hole consists of sausages baked into Yorkshire pudding, with the name supposedly referring to toads waiting near ponds for their prey. 

Rumbledethumps is a traditional Scottish casserole made from leftover cauliflower, while Welsh rarebit is toast with a thick cheese sauce. That Christmas favourite, mince pie doesn’t actually include meat, but a lot of fruit, and bubble and squeak, a fry up of leftover vegetables, gets its name from the noise it makes on the stove. 

Never let it be said that the Brits are an unimaginative lot! 

Feel like serving up your favourite British dishes? British Corner Shop has all your favourite brands, delivered across Europe 

Care for a Cuppa: Whether it’s an sophisticated afternoon or an English breakfast, British Corner Shop has your favourite brands. Photo: Getty Images

Treasured treats

As wild and wacky as British foods can be, there are plenty of iconic food and snack brands that have been putting a smile on faces for decades. 

Cadbury chocolate, for example, is a big hit with readers of The Local – their Cadbury Flake bar topped the poll in our last article. Cadbury also produce the Curly Wurly, the Crunchie and of course, the Dairy Milk block.  

Walkers Crisps are another popular favourite across the UK, with an ever-growing range of flavours available – Salted, Salt & Vinegar, Cheese & Onion, Roast Chicken and of course, Prawn Cocktail. Which flavour do you miss most? 

Biscuits such as Jaffa Cakes and Jammie Dodgers are classic treats to be shared over a cup of Yorkshire Tea or PG Tips – or maybe with a Percy Pig

Of course, British food is about far more than just treats. Staple spreads like Marmite and Branston Pickle have been brightening the mornings of Brits for a long time, while the nation has long turned to the high-quality ingredients from Marks and Spencer to make any meal just that little bit more special. 

Feeling a bit peckish? Treat yourself! 

British Corner Shop has been providing Brits and anglophiles abroad the best of British food for years. Now they are able to deliver anywhere in the EU – including baked goods, such as devon scones – within a matter of days. 

With a huge selection on offer, competitive prices and ‘Brit Kits’ – a curated variety of boxes for those who can’t decide on just a few items – it’s the perfect place for those looking for iconic hard-to-find UK foods. 

Get a bumper taste of Blighty with an order of your favourites from British Corner Shop

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AMBASSADOR

British ambassador’s quest to reunite with Spanish woman ends in tears

Hugh Elliott, the newly appointed British ambassador to Madrid made headlines last week when he went public with a heartwarming story about the hospitality he received from a stranger on his first trip to Burgos in 1984.

British ambassador’s quest to reunite with Spanish woman ends in tears
HMA Hugh Elliott sad he had cried more than a little at the news of his old friend. Photo: British Embassy/FCO

He described how as a student he became stranded in the northern Spanish city after his bicycle failed to arrive on the same train as him, making his onward trip to a budget campsite impossible.

But on sharing his plight with a stranger in the bar he was offered a place to stay with a Spanish family who refused to take a payment for his board and lodging.

“It took five days for the bike to arrive. I spent all those days staying and eating with them as family without them letting me pay for anything,” recalled the ambassador, who arrived at the Madrid posting in August.

“How many countries would have welcomed a stranger like that?” Elliott asked in a video he posted on his twitter account on Tuesday.

READ MORE: UK ambassador looking to find friend who helped him when he was a hard up youngster in Spain


Hugh Elliott posted a clip on Twitter recounting the story and asked for help to find Lourdes Arnáiz. 

He asked for help to track down the woman who had shown such warm hospitality, whose name he remembered was Lourdes Arnáiz.

He asked the twittersphere for help to track her down after all these years so that he could properly thank her and her family all these years later.

On Friday evening he posted a new video with the update that his quest for news of Lourdes had been successful thanks to the huge response –

He said the reaction to his first video had been “totally unexpected, overwhelming and very affectionate”

“Thanks to your support, I now have news of her, but this is the sad part,” he said, visibly emotional. “I’m very sorry to have to say that Lourdes passed away at the age of 35 from Multiple Sclerosis. I had hoped for another outcome, but alas, it isn’t so.”

 Elliott said he had spoken to Lourdes’ brother, Alfonso, whom he also knew all those years ago and who lives in Burgos with his family and the pair had resumed their friendship and would meet soon.

But in the meantime the ambassador urged those who had been touched by the story to donate something to associations dedicated to helping those sufferers of multiple sclerosis, either as volunteers or through a donation.

“if this story has touched you, and I have to say that I have cried more than in a little, there's something that you can do.” 

He pointed out that there were several organisations in Burgos dedicated to helping those with the disease, as well in Santiago, the city he was headed for in 1984 as well as in Salamanca, where he later worked as a young teacher. There is also a national organisation, he said.

“Each one of us can contribute our ‘grain of sand’ with our time as a volunteer or with a donation. Thanks for your support and the interest that you have shown in this story and thanks so much for all your endearing messages,” he said.

The ambassador then tweeted a list of organisations in the places he mentioned that support multiple sclerosis suffers.

 

 

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