3 Traditional British Meals People Actually Eat

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As with many local delicacies and national dishes not that many people actually still eat them. Things like Hakarl which is the national dish of Iceland is more of a rite of passage (1) than a tasty meal enjoyed by everyone. However, in the UK there are just a few traditional dishes that are still eaten very regularly by many people. When learning English as a language and especially when visiting the UK it is useful to know some popular meals and be confident you know what you are getting if someone suggests eating some.

Fish and Chips

Being a country totally surrounded by water it is no surprise that fish is still a very common food type in the UK. The meal itself is very simple and made up of a large single piece of fish that is deep fried in batter (2) and served with thick deep fried strips of potato. These chips are similar to French fries but much thicker and less crunchy.

Fish and Chips actually originated in the 17th century when Western Sephardic Jews used to cook fish using a batter made with flour and other ingredients. But it was not until the later half of the 19th century that fish was easily available across the UK and then it became very popular with working people. Around this time people started serving the fish with the potatoes and so Fish and Chips was born.

These days a special shop that sells Fish and Chips is called a “chippy” in common slang (3) and will serve very less other than Fish and Chips. It has become traditional to have a sausage if you do not like fish and also something called “mushy peas”. This is a side dish created with large green peas cooked until they almost turn into a paste.

Bangers and Mash

This meal is also known as sausage and mash (4). The Banger term means sausage and the mash part refers to something called mashed potato. Mash is certainly not unique to the UK but as with many potato products it is still very popular here. Sausages are traditionally made form pork but beef, lamb, chicken and turkey sausages are available. Over the last 15 years or so Bangers and Mash has become even more popular with many fashionable pubs and bars serving it with very high quality and uniquely flavoured sausages. This meal is almost always served with a thick sauce called gravy.

Roast Dinner with Yorkshire Pudding

This meal is often also called a Sunday Roast. This refers to the fact it was traditionally only served on a Sunday and in many places still is. Many pubs and restaurants will change their normal menu to offer a “roast” on a Sunday only. The meal has religious origins where people going to Church in England would not eat until after the service but these days it is very much something for everyone.

A roast dinner is made up of (5) a roast and sliced meat like Beef or Chicken served with boiled vegetables like cabbage, carrots, broccoli and sometimes parsnips, suede and other items too. One of the main ingredients is….you guessed it; potatoes. In this case they are chopped into large sections and roasted. A Yorkshire pudding is only served with beef and is a large crispy cake like item made from a batter. This is a large meal so not one to order if you are not very hungry.

None of these meals are very healthy but all of them are enjoyed by millions of British people every week so if you are visiting the UK see if you can try one of these meals.


  1. Rite of passage: a special and unique ceremony, eg a marriage
  2. Batter: a food covering of flour and egg (that is then fried)
  3. Mash: a soft mass created by crushing (potatoes) and adding liquid (eg milk)
  4. Made up of: consists of
  5. Slang:  very informal language used in spoken form