James Beard said: “Food is our common ground.”
Whenever I am fortunate enough to travel abroad I cannot wait to see what culinary treats I will be able to experience on my adventure. Often I will research beforehand and decide which dishes I will set out to try and which I will most definitely give a wide berth.
Once you have made the decision to learn English in the birthplace of the language at Oxford English Academy IN Oxford, you may do what I do, read up about the food!
To be honest, I am not entirely sure that this is a good idea. The names of some of the dishes the British feast on are often completely misleading and just plain off putting!
One such example being the “Toad in the hole”, which is a traditional British dish that luckily does not contain any frog meat as the name suggests. It is a dish of sausages cooked in batter and according to Wikipedia it is commonly served with vegetables and onion gravy. The name is a bit of a mystery but it is said to have originated in the late 1800’s and could be made with any kind of leftover meat. Therefore, the version you will find today is much less adventurous despite the misleading name.
Speaking of misleading, “Spotted Dick” is probably the world’s worst name for a dessert. Honestly, what were the Brits thinking? This dessert consisting of dried fruit and suet pastry is rolled and baked. The small bits of dried fruit provide the spotted effect and usually come served hot with custard. And that is all I will say about that…
Another incredibly odd name for a meal in England is “Bubble and Squeak”. From what I gather this dish is made by frying leftover food, mainly vegetables in a shallow pan, the name deriving from the sound the vegetables make while frying. The main ingredients are potatoes and cabbage, but even cold meat can be added. Don’t be surprised to see a portion of this interesting concoction accompanying your English breakfast!
Last, but not least is the “Stargazey Pie”, which to me sounded like a pretty dessert topped with some shiny sprinkles. I could not be more wrong! Traditionally a dish from Cornwall in the south of England, it consists of baked pilchards, with eggs and potatoes, covered in pastry. The reason for the name you ask? The little fish are placed in the pastry whole, with their heads protruding through the crust, so that they look like they are gazing at the stars! Apparently, the reason being that this enables the oils from the fish to flow back into the crust and add more flavour.
All in all I would suggest that once you arrive at Oxford English Academy in England, you ask one of our friendly staff to take you on a culinary tour of Oxford and perhaps explain to you what exactly it is you are ordering! British food is one area where even this native English speaker was profoundly confused by the English language.