5 British foods that terrify me

Jokes about British food are as old as Britain.  Most of them are outdated. I’ve had some very nice meals during my time here. Aside from their version of “Mexican” food,* I don’t have anything bad to say.

Okay, that’s a lie.  Fresh British food is very nice, but a small percentage of the canned/processed/frozen stuff can be downright disturbing. Here are five British foods I just can’t get my head around.

#5 Tikka everything

The British and I disagree about the nature (and spelling) of lasagna.

Chicken tikka masala is the unofficial national dish of this place**.  On its own, masala sauce is a delicious, creamy, spicy concoction — but it turns up in the weirdest places. I’ve seen it in Italian and Chinese and even Mexican food here. At this rate, there’s a serious danger that tikka masala will become for the U.K. what ranch dressing is for the U.S. — an unhealthy obsession that obliterates every other flavor in its path.

#4 Malt Loaf

I don’t know what “squidgy energy” is and I don’t want to know, because I still have hope for the future.

It’s almost Christmas, so store shelves are lined with fruitcakes of every possible sort. But unlike in the U.S., fruitcake isn’t just a seasonal thing here. Enter malt loaf: The surprisingly dense fruitcake you can enjoy year round — now with all the excitement of malt! If that wasn’t bad enough, the Internet tells me you’re supposed to butter it before you eat it. And then you go to sleep for a year.

#3 Strangely Flavored Crisps

Yes, the middle one is “Christmas Pudding” flavored. Abandon all hope ye who snack here.

My beautiful wife loves eating prawns. Her pursuit of all things prawnful borders on the maniacal. She would live in a prawn palace on top of Prawn Mountain with prawn butlers serving themselves up poolside, if only that were possible. Deep in the sea, mother prawns whisper her name to their babies as a word of warning, for she is the doom that awaits them all. And even she will not eat prawn flavored crisps. Because they are wrong.

#2 Marmite XO

This is not food; this is a dare.

Regular Marmite is daunting enough. This “yeast extract” is so controversial that the company that makes it runs its own Facebook hate page. I’ve been trying to work up the nerve to try the regular stuff, but I think we all know I’m never going to be man enough to crack open this black jar of forbidden mysteries.

#1 Lunch Tongue

It’s the tongue that you have for lunch! It’s Lunch Tongue!

I know that some cultures consider the tongue of an animal to be a delicacy. I respect that. I don’t eat meat, but if you’re going to eat an animal, you might as well eat the whole thing***. But this isn’t just a tongue. It’s a bunch of different tongues that have been pressed together into a loaf and placed in a tin can — a delicacy that you should only have for lunch, for some reason. It’s Lunch Tongue!

Here’s a fun party game: Try to come up with creepiest possible slogan for Lunch Tongue. A few of my favorites so far:

  • Somebody tongue me!
  • How many tongues can you fit in your mouth?
  • It’s the snack that tastes you back!

Weird canned meats are something of cottage industry over here. It goes way beyond Spam. They also can hotdogs and breakfast meats and anything meant to be eat in bite-sized chunks. I can only hope that these canned meats are vestiges of the old Britain — the one everybody teases about having terrible food — and that they’re on their way out the door as we speak.

* That’s going to require its own post at some point. If I get into it now, we’ll be here all day.
** Some people claim it was actually invented in Scotland, not India.
*** And if you’ve ever eaten a hot dog, chances are that tongue is the least of your worries.

About Jesse Stanchak

Just another American ex-pat living in up in England. During the week I edit a social media newsletter, but on the weekends I travel around the U.K. and continental Europe having adventures with my darling wife. I'm also a runner, an animal lover and an aspiring professional fat kid.
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