Exploring British Cuisine

Study Abroad Blog

Who's Hungry? Exploring British Cuisine

Scones with Clotted Cream and Jam

Within the first hour of my "British Culture" class, my professor was correcting our pronunciation of the word 'scone' . Born and raised in West Sussex, he was keen that we pronounce the word the correct way as 'skon'. However, I will say that the pronunciation of this word varies from region to region.

Scones are a bit like an American biscuit mixed with vanilla cake. They are toppedscone with jam (usually strawberry) and clotted cream. At first glance, clotted cream looks unappealing, but when put on a scone with jam - it is heaven! It tastes like whipped cream and pairs perfectly with its accompanying partners! I grew to love clotted cream so dearly, that my mother teased me relentlessly about it when I got back to the states. What can I say? It tastes great! It makes for a lovely afternoon snack with tea! 



Sticky Toffee Pudding 

First rule of English cuisine - if you order anything labeled as 'pudding', keep in mind that the English and the Americans have  very different definitions of what a pudding is. Just look up Black pudding or Christmas pudding and you'll see what I mean. Sticky Toffee Pudding is the most delectable English dessert to ever grace one's mouth with its beautiful caramel syrup and rich sweet cake. My grandfather and I are very different: he is an early bird and I'm a night owl, he likes football and I normally won't but I live in Texas so I'm obligated to say I like it. However, we are united in that we both absolutely love eating sticky toffee pudding! Give it a try.




Bangers and Mash

Have you ever heard of the expression "Don't judge a book by its cover?"

Keep that expression in mind as youbm look at the picture on the left. What you see before you is an incomprehensible mess of yellow and brown. You probably can't even tell what this is - it's bangers and mash! Or in American English, sausages and mashed potatoes. You'll also notice that I have a huge smile on my face because it was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! I had this meal at a hotel pub in Alton and it was a great way to end the night before going up to bed. I definitely suggest giving it a try if you're ever in England. 


Full English Breakfast

This is the best way to start the day! A Full English Breakfast is a feast that one person shouldn't be able to eat by themselves, but it's so delicious that somehow you do! It is usually served at Bed and Breakfasts and at pubs. The Full English Breakfast includes eggs (anyway you like them), bacon or sausage, toast with marmalade/butter, baked beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, and a slice of pudding. 




Afternoon Tea

If you ever get the chance to visit England, I would advise you to go attend an afternoon tea. During my stay in England, I had the opportunity to go have afternoon tea three times and I loved every second of it! 

However, before I get into the details about my experiences, I ought to tell you what afternoon tea is in the first place. The full history of English afternoon tea is fully described at the British Museum website.  However, I'll attempt to provide you with a brief history here. The concept of afternoon tea was born in the early Victorian era by the seventh Duchess of Bedford who served as Queen Victoria's ladies in waiting. Back in the 1840's, dinner was served at a very late hour. The Duchess would grow hungry in the afternoon, so she asked for some tea and treats. Soon, the royal court adopted this idea which eventually made its way into the homes of the English lower classes. 

I should further clarify that simply having a cup of tea in the afternoon is not the same as having afternoon tea. Usually, one goes to a Tea Room, a restaurant, or cafe that specializes in serving afternoon tea. Rather, afternoon tea is a full meal usually consisting of small sandwiches, pastries, scones, and, of course, a cup of tea. It is quite a satisfying meal and is always delicious!


Now that you have a better idea of what an English afternoon tea is, please allow me to tell you about my three experiences of having afternoon tea!


Harry Potter Afternoon Tea

My first afternoon tea took place in London where a few friends and I went to a Harry Potter themed tea room. Themed tea rooms are very popular in London right now. Themes can range from Alice in Wonderland to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory . The entire atmosphere of the tea room was meticulously cultivated to put you in the whimsical world of J.K. Rowling's imagination. The bluish glow of the lights illuminated the decorative setting of the table. The tea house also had accompanying games and activities and it made the overall experience a lot more fun! While this was not the best tea house I visited, the themed afternoon made my experience a lot more interesting. 



Julien Plumart Patisserie 

If you're ever in Brighton, make a point to visit Julien Plumart! Julien Plumart is a small french style cafe right across the street from the Brighton Train Station. From the road, you can see a perfect view of the English Channel and the beach is just a ten minute walk away.

The staff is very helpful and kind and didn't mind one bit that I held up the line to decide which tasty treat to order. What can I say? They all looked so good. They serve the best afternoon treats I ever had! To this day, I still dream about the treats and sandwiches I scarfed down like an animal! My friends and I went to Julien Plumart for afternoon tea as a farewell party before we returned to the US and boy, oh, boy do I love this place! The croissant sandwiches are delicious! The lemon tart is perfection! And the macaroons are absolutely divine! I cannot verbalize how much I adored the food served at Julien Plumart. This was the perfect afternoon tea!



Cafe Concerto

The last tea house I visited was especially important to me because I had the opportunity to have afternoon tea with my mom. I studied abroad in England in the spring and in the summer, my mom came to visit me in London. We spent the next few weeks spending time together and exploring. On this particular day, we went shopping at Harrods, explored the Victoria and Albert Museum, and had a lovely afternoon tea together. After a long time a part, it was wonderful to treat my mother to this experience and we had a wonderful time! Cafe Concerto is located just across the street from Harrods. We sat down at a table facing the busy, bustling road. We watched busy crowds hurry to and fro across the street as we sipped our tea and ate our treats. It was great to sit and spend time together after such a busy morning. 


This post was contributed by Mia, a study abroad alumni from Spring 2022. Mia is an English major with a Business Administration minor who studied abroad in England.