Britain has often prided itself on the sheer diversity of food on offer. Thanks to a rich history of global exploration and international trade, our menus are a wonderful array of world cuisine.
However, there are also dishes to be found up and down the country that serve as bastions of local culture; a taste of times gone by, first created by the very people who grew and farmed the ingredients, and then named after the place in which they came into existence.
To pay homage, we’ve selected a few of these regionally named flavoursome delights that have so far stood the test of time. In no particular order…
The pasty is regarded as the national dish of Cornwall, with the term ‘Cornish pasty’ being in use since the 1800s. The traditional filling consists of a well-seasoned mixture of meat and potatoes baked inside a pastry casing in the shape of a D and crimped on one side. It is often said that the crust was to stop dirty hands from touching the edible part. What we do know is that the Cornish pasty’s initial purpose was to be a self-contained meal on-the-go and remains so to this day.
First named “dripping pudding”, the humble Yorkshire pud has been accompanying roast meat and gravy for centuries. It initially came about when cooks in the north of England decided to swap the dripping pan for one with batter in it instead, so that the pudding could cook beneath the meat whilst the fat dripped down onto it.
Melton Mowbray Pork Pie
The Melton Mowbray is no ordinary pork pie. It is made following a strict recipe that uses uncured pork that is chopped rather than minced, causing the meat to be greyish in colour once cooked. First coming into popularity amongst fox hunters in the late 18th century, these pies are so precious to local culture that they even have their own association – the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association – fending off any imposter pies that try to pass off as the real deal without the seal of approval.
According to local folklore, this signature Derbyshire Dales cherry and almond pudding was in fact supposed to be a jam tart. When the cook spread the egg and almond paste on top of the pastry instead of mixing it in, the famous jam and custard topping was born.
The Lancashire hotpot is a simple yet hearty meal of mutton, onions and potatoes, with several variations dependent on whatever’s in the larder. You’d assume the name refers to the pottery dish used to cook casseroles in, but in fact it is more likely to have derived from the term ‘hotchpotch’, meaning a random mixture of sorts.
It is thought to have first come about in the early days of industrialisation, when people were on a strict work regime that meant they could no longer tend to food throughout the day. In other words, it’s a “chuck it all into the slow-cooker and let it do its thing” kind of dish.