Top 5 British Food Traditions To Embrace Now

One of the many varieties of meat pies available at Borough Market.
One of the many varieties of meat pies available at Borough Market.
Photo by Joanna O'Leary.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I recently returned from London, where I was celebrating the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens and stuffing my gob with vittles. Houston stole my heart with its diverse food scene, but London, despite being bloody expensive, still has a certain something, or, rather, certain somethings you don't often find in Texas. Here are five UK food traditions we should indulge in more regularly.

5. Thick-Cut Fries (Chips). Fish and chips aren't hard to find in Houston, but the so-called "chips" are often marginally thicker French fries. We need more authentic options, crispy slabs bursting with fluffy potato that readily absorbs sides of vinegar or curry sauce.

4. Meat Pies. No, chicken pot pie doesn't count. I'm talking free-standing, industrial-strength crusted pies stuffed with pheasant, wild boar, turkey or, if you're unadventurous, just beef. Cold or hot, meat pies are the epitome of the "hearty" supper.

3. Millionaire's Shortbread. Brooke Viggiano was reading my mind this week. These delightfully chewy, flaky squares are appropriately called "over-size Twix bars" for the way in which they combine cookie and candy bar components. They're easy enough to make at home, or available on Amazon from certain English vendors. Serve with warm milk tea. And speaking of that lovely brewed beverage...

2. High Tea. A cuppa and some light carbohydrate refreshment in the afternoon is a custom still practiced by many Britons. The elaborate event that is now "high tea" is usually far too expensive and time-consuming for daily participation; however, for weekend special occasions, it's refreshing change from boring old brunch. Since most high tea service is offered starting around 4 p.m., you can sleep in even later. Plus, most convenient of all, when you're done caffeinating and re-hydrating, it's time for happy hour, which means you can have a...

1. Whiskey and Ginger. Sometimes referred to as a "highball," the whiskey and ginger is to Britons as the margarita is to Texans. Convenience shops accordingly sell premixed bottles (you know, for when you need that pick-me-up on the way to work) or you can easily make your own with some fine (or not) Irish whiskey and ginger ale (or beer). Go for a double if you're brave, and don't forget the lemon slice.

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