The UK’s favourite foods: The South East and London

12 May 2012
The UK’s favourite foods: The South East and London
The UK’s favourite foods: The South East and London

It’s the sixth week of The Great British Menu competition and we’re travelling the very long distance from the North West to London, and the surrounding South East.

Here's a reminder of what we’re doing. Each week we nominate five foods from a different part of the UK, roughly aligned with The Great British Menu episodes. We think these foods are either quintessentially linked to the area through history, or they are more modern staples that began in that region, with many subsequently spreading in popularity throughout the rest of the isles.

We’ll then invite you to vote for your favourite of our choices – and disagree vehemently with what we've come up with in the Comments section. Voting will remain open for each region until May 29. Then the top choice from each region will go forward into a national vote to decide the UK’s favourite food.

London and the South East

It’s tricky to characterise London’s culinary scene – it embraces so much food from other cultures! Other areas to consider include Berkshire, Hampshire, Kent, Sussex, and the Isle of Wight. Here are our top five favourite dishes

Pie and mash

As London-ish as Big Ben, the original working-class pies were made with eels because, at the time, the slippery fellas were cheaper than beef. It was fifty-or-so years ago that minced beef replaced eels as the standard. Traditionally your pie and mash would also come served with a kind of parsley sauce, commonly called liquor (despite the absence of booze).

Whitstable oysters

The fishing and harbour town of Whitstable in Kent has been associated with oysters for hundreds of years. Even the Normans fished for them here, and the fishers and dredgers customarily held an annual ceremony of thanksgiving for their fishy harvest. The Oyster Festival was revived in the 1980s and remains popular to this day.

Bedfordshire clanger

Like a massive Cornish pasty, with the savoury at one end (beef skirt and onions) and the sweet (cooked pears) at the other. Jam is another popular pudding filling. Historically clangers were made for men to take to their agricultural work for lunch, although it’s still widely available at hotels and restaurants in the county.

Strawberries and cream

Could anything be more typical of an English summer? The natural peak of the British strawberry season comes during the Wimbledon fortnight, and the same Kentish strawberry growers have been supplying the championship for nearly 20 years. On average, a Wimbledon punnet will contain no less than 10 strawberries, and just shy of 9,000 punnets are consumed a day.

Sussex Pond Pudding

The ugliest pudding in the world, I’m afraid. But don’t let that put you off trying this syrupy, moist, gooey, calorific delight, which is essentially a pulpy lemon encased in a thick beef suet crust, complete with buttery brown sauce. It was even the inspiration for Heston Blumenthal’s hidden orange Christmas pudding, and you can read all about its interesting history here.

Do you agree with our choices? What should have been nominated? Have your say in the Comments section

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