“I’m sorry, there’s no one here with that job title.”
~AFFotD’s Cultural Sensitivity Officer
America has always had an uncomfortable relationship with England, sort of like a second husband trying to be polite to his wife’s ex when he comes by to take his kid for the weekend. Like, we’re friendly enough, but deep down we kind of suspect they resent us for taking what they once had. We don’t say this to make any larger point about England and America, or even their alliance and history throughout the years, because nothing about this post is going to be diplomatic, smart, or even particularly well-informed. We’re here to make fun of British food.
We talk about food a lot here, and for good reason—America is a land of delicious and largely unhealthy delicacies, and frankly we think it’s a little rude for you to respond to our eager descriptions of insane fried foods with something like, “Dear God, according to your cholesterol levels you should be dead,” Doctor Fredricks. And we make fun of other countries a lot here, because we think America is the greatest and we kind of get defensive when people imply otherwise. Oh that’s great, Switzerland, your country is the happiest in the world, well fuck off we have nukes and guns we’re better than you FOOTBALLLLLL.
More to the point, considering how often we talk about American food in all its wondrous incarnations, it’s important to remind ourselves that light cannot exist without darkness. American food is the light. British food is…well there’s a reason we make fun of British food. This is the reason. These foods are the reasons.
The Greatest Culinary Crimes Perpetrated by the British
Look at that. That is a Munchy Box. It is a cheap Scottish fast food product, and it is probably the best thing that is made on the English Isles. It’s a pizza box filled with a variety of fried unhealthy junk foods, including pizza and a mix of things that should and should not be served along with pizza. But even that, the best thing that we can find from England, looks like a horror show in real life. That’s a pizza topped with fried chicken and a bunch of Indian food, and it adheres to the food philosophy maintained by about 90% of British cooks—if it doesn’t have all the flavor boiled out of it, then make it extremely unhealthy while looking like it was constructed by a drunk nine year old (and considering that the Munchy Box is primarily popular in Glasgow, we can’t discount that possibility).
Since long before food rationing during and after World War II inspired some, um, culinary MacGyvering in English cuisine, the British have taken a strange fascination in making their food seem almost, well, frugal, which is why you see so many dishes comprised of parts of the animal that reflexively, you don’t want to eat. We don’t care how many ways you describe the flavor of pig’s blood, and we don’t care if you truly and sincerely like the taste of globular cubes of red animal leakings, but if you make a national dish that’s main selling point is “Man, look at all that blood in there!” we’re not going to eat it. You can call us boorish, and you can call us unadventurous, but some foods just sound inherently gross. This is the same reason why most of you would flinch at the suggestion of eating, say, broiled dog, or whatever the fuck this is.
And we get it, anyone from Britain or with an affinity for British food will read this article and roll their eyes saying, “London is a world class culinary city, the stereotype that British food is bland and horrid is honestly outdated, and in fact many traditional dishes are delicious.” And you’re probably right, but tough shit—just like many people make the stereotypical jokes about Americans being boorish, crass fat people who aren’t interested in learning about other cultures, we’re going to write an article about these motherfucking limey bastards who, instead of putting bacon and fat on everything like a true cook, make weird and strange and boringly bad foods that we don’t understand and thus choose to ignore. Because your food is different and weird, and now we’re going to chastise you for that while we finish off this double cheeseburger we bought because it’s 4PM and, man, our dinner reservation isn’t until 7, we don’t think we can make it that long before eating again.
Listen, people apparently like Haggis a lot, and it’s sort of experiencing a foodie hipster revival as of late, but we are legally required to start this limitedly-informed list of British foods being made fun of by ignorant Americans with Haggis because, eww, gross, it’s got guts, like guts, you guys, so gross. You might say that statement is childish and immature and representative of the typical American xenophobic response to foreign cultures, to which we’d say, shut up, we banged your mom, go back to China where you belong, Frenchie, pfft pfft pfft *series of fart noises*.
Most of us are able to afford eating meat that is made out of “muscle” and not “looking like the insides of a damn tauntaun.” That’s why the ingredient list for Haggis, the Scottish dish that arguably was created in England, scares off anyone who isn’t either British or an “adventurous eater” which basically describes either worldly eaters or foodies who prefer to eat things they don’t think they’d like because it’s trendy. For those of you who have a general idea of what goes in Haggis, in that you can say, “It’s, like, got something to do with a stomach or something?” you’re most of the way there. It’s a savory pudding (England has some weird definitions for what constitutes pudding) that minces a sheep’s heart, lungs, and liver with onion, oatmeal, suet (hard fat found near the loins and kidneys), stock, spices, and salt, which is stuffed in a sheep’s stomach and cooked. The stomach has been replaced by an artificial casing in many preparations of Haggis currently, which frankly surprises us. If the meat you’re eating is all organ meat, why would the stomach aspect really be that much of a big deal to you? “Oh, sure, give me my fucking offal casserole, but don’t you dare stuff it inside even more offal, so help me God.”
Even if you like this, you have to admit it’s a fucking weird dish. This has been around since the 1400s, which was around the time where we still had to kill mastodons with our bare hands in order to survive (citation needed). People over 600 years ago, whose culinary expertise pretty much was limited to “we put food in stomach that no make you die fast,” decided to huck a bunch of sheep guts into a fire, and we’re supposed to keep eating it? Don’t you see the problem here, England? Scotland? Is anyone listening? Haggis is terrifying, and pizza is better, and we don’t care if you’ve had it and liked it, we can’t hear you, USA, USA, USA.
British Guy With Generic Name #1: Cecil?
British Guy With Generic Name #2: Yes, Reginald?
BGWGN1: What in the blazes are you doing?
BGWGN2: Why, I’m making mushy peas, old sport.
BGWGN1: Isn’t that a horridly unappetizing adjective to use for a dish? No one likes food mushy, that makes me think of a loaf of bread left out in rainwater.
BGWGN2: Quite right, but you see, that’s what we decided to name this dish, where we soak marrofat peas overnight in water and baking soda and then simmer it in salt and sugar until it turns into a thick lumpy soup that’s a slightly worrisome green shade. You see, it’s peas, but mushy, and needlessly labor intensive.
BGWGN1: Why don’t we just boil peas in water and eat them regularly?
BGWGN2: Because that would both look more appetizing, and would be less difficult to insult.
BGWGN1: And we don’t want that, Cecil?
BGWGN2: Heavens no, Reginald. We’re British.
GGWG1: Ah yes, quite right. Carry on.
Bubble & Squeak
Leave it to the British to ruin mashed potatoes. Bubble & Squeak might not be the most depressing meal we’ve ever seen, but that’s because one time when we were five our parents went out to the bar on Christmas Eve afternoon and time sort of got away from them so our Christmas Eve dinner consisted of us eating an uncooked box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese by ourselves while watching It’s a Wonderful Life on ABC because the cable was out. But it is proof that the British can actively make mashed potatoes tragic. It’s literally leftover Brussels sprouts with potatoes mashed together and fried—while the concept of Native Americans using “every part of the buffalo” is more of a myth than anything else, the British actually apply that philosophy in real life to their shitty, weird meals.
This dish has been around since at least 1806, with the first recipe coming from Maria Rundell’s A New System of Domestic Cookery, possibly in the “abject poverty” section. It’s as simple as it is sad—the morning after a roast dinner, if you’re so inclined, you can take your leftovers vegetables and mash them together into a sort of…mush and shallow-fry it. Usually this is potatoes and Brussels sprouts, but can include carrots, peas, cabbages, and heartbreaking entreaties from your children asking why, you ate those vegetables yesterday and they were bad yesterday why do you have to eat them again for breakfast?
Smashing food together and cooking it in oil is not a culinary tradition to be proud of. We get that things were rough on your island for a while, England, but you’re doing much better now. You don’t have to keep doing this to yourselves. We’re just trying to help here.
Anyway, let’s move on to some gross looking stuff.
Is there a reason why England just names things after things they’re not? Laver bread is not bread, it’s fucking seaweed and sadness. It is made by taking laver, which is a seaweed commonly found along the British coast, and boiling it for several hours before pureeing it into a “gelatinous paste” which is rolled in oatmeal and fried and given to someone who knows what they did to deserve this. It’s a Welsh dish typically eaten with bacon (that’s fine) and cockles (tee hee, oh wait, it’s just a kind of clam), and it can also be used to make laver soup, which, no. Like, just no.
This kind of shit is emblematic of everything that’s weird and kind of gross about British food—they basically will eat anything, no matter how strange or bad of an idea it might seem. The thought process behind this dish literally consisted of some Welsh man walking around, seeing some slimy green shit in the ocean, and deciding, “You know what? I want to eat that. But before I eat that, how about I boil it for an unnecessarily long time until it turns into a gross green mush and then roll it in some oats for the absolute fuck of it.” If there was a way to make a pie out of rocks, England would have figured out how to do it by 1250 and would have made it a “national dish steeped in tradition” by 1700.
Great Britain takes pride in their peasant food, which is a really depressing thing to take pride in. That’s their way of rationalizing that they like to make food out of things that people don’t want to eat. “Listen, people don’t want to eat sheep cartilage, we get that, but what if we boil it for hours on end until everything breaks down and we toss some pigs’ brain in there and serve it in a shoe? We’ll call it Jointy Spotty and sell it with warm flat beer and if Americans don’t like it it’s just because they don’t get it.” Black pudding is (one of the examples of) how England applies this mindset to pork blood. Oh, and oatmeal, British food is just fucking lousy with oatmeal it would seem.
That’s basically all this is—it’s a blood sausage filled with oatmeal that can eaten cold because it’s cooked during production (oh great, how thoughtful of you) but is generally “grilled, fried, baked or boiled” (yes those would be the options of cooking a thing, England, good job.) Fat’s also in there because fat makes things better, we’ll grant them that, and apparently Stornoway black pudding, from the Western Isles of Scotland, is largely considered one of the best blood puddings in the world. That’s really impressive, England. That you can make the best sausage that’s primarily made out of pig blood. Guess what, we make the best moonshine out of turpentine and rainwater. Being the best at doing a bad idea does not make that idea good, England. Get your shit together.
Would you all excuse us for a moment?
AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH OH GOD OH GOD WHY KILL IT KILL IT WITH FIRE OHHHHHHHHHHHHH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO NEEEOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
Ahem. Thank you. Jellied eels is not some clever sounding description of a thing totally different than what it is called like most British food or slang terms. Jellied eels is eels, that have been…well, we’ll let Wikipedia describe the horrors. “The dish consists of chopped eels boiled in spiced stock that is allowed to cool and set, forming a jelly. It is eaten cold.”
It is eaten cold.
The dish originated in the East End of London in the 18th century, and primarily owes its existence to the relatively cheapness of eels at the time (see also-peasant food) and the fact that you could pluck freshwater eels right out of the Thames (see also- boiling the shit out of whatever gross thing you find when you reach into a body of water). We don’t really have anything more to offer about this. We’re so scared. We’re so, so scared.
So many British foods have very cute sounding names and very depressing ingredients. There’s nothing wrong with a sandwich made by putting ketchup and French fries between two slices of white bread, necessarily, like, it’s not going to make you cheat on your taxes or physically harm someone, but it’s also the saddest 8-year-old-idea-of-what-food-should-be sandwich possibly in the world’s existence. We’re not even saying this would taste bad, per se, it’d just taste like all the starch in the world joined forces to hop inside your mouth and show you want real loneliness tastes like. This is the kind of sandwich a recently divorced dad whose ex-wife far outpaced him in the looks department would eat in his underwear drinking a tall boy of Steel Reserve and trying to figure out how to set up a Tinder account on his iPhone 3 alone in the dark. He was hungry, and he only had bread, leftover French fries, and ketchup in his fridge, and, well, Dominos won’t delivery to his house anymore ever since that robe malfunction fiasco. He sits, alone, eating Chippy Butty, and calling his ex-wife’s new boyfriend a wanker.
He’s not a wanker, Bruce. He’s an anchorman, and he’s handsome, successful, and you have to see his face every time you watch the morning news and you hate his perfect chin. Enjoy your sad sandwich, Bruce. Your apartment is a goddamn train wreck.
*rocking back and forth, singing the Battle Hymn of the Republic*
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord”
“He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored…”
Are…are you okay? Are you going to talk about whatever the fuck is going on in that picture?
“He hath loosed the fateful lighting of His terrible swift sword…”
Like, okay, this looks like it’s a pie with like, fish heads poking out of it. It’s not a pie with fish heads sticking out of it, right AFFotD? Can you please stop bobbing back and forth while singing and just answer us?
“His truth is marching on…”
Okay, screw you guys then, I’ll just look it up. Oh…Oh God… it says it’s made with whole sardines, and the heads must poke through the top of the pastry with their eyes “gazing at the stars” which lets fish oil drain down into the pie from the goddamn fish heads? Oh God, this is terrifying. This is the worst thing we’ve ever seen, who wants to eat a pastry filled with eggs and potatoes that’s got monstrous fish heads poking out like they’re fucking trying to escape? Who would eat this? What is wrong with England? We… we…
*also begins rocking back and forth*
“Glory, glory hallelujah…
…Glory, glory hallelujah…
“Glory, glory hallelujah…”
His truth is…
WARM LOW-ALCOHOL FLAT BEERS
We’re dealing with dated stereotypes here, but this dated stereotype is almost worse than the Stargazey Pie, because it offends our very sensibilities. Well, no you’re right, stargazey pie is far worse, but still, of the three things we cannot abide in our beer, it would be a flat beer, a warm beer, or a beer that barely has any alcohol in it. 90% of British beers fall into at least two of those categories, and it’s just not right. Why on Earth would you bother making, say, a Greene King IPA to wash down the horrors of British cuisine that cannot be erased by a sober mind if you’re not going to make it any stronger than 3.6% ABV? What cruel monster would give you an alcoholic way to wash way the flavored of mushy peas only to limit you to a 3.6% ABV warm Tetley’s? Sure, Spitfire, Pedigree, Fuller’s London Pride and Landlord Pale Ale all “taste” good but they can’t even get you as drunk as a fucking Budweiser? What is wrong with you, England? Are you that scared that you’ll get drunk and glass a motherfucker? Well, okay, that’s a valid concern, but Jesus, England.
If you’re going to make your citizens eat the food on this list, at least let them get good and sauced on some refreshing cold beer, you monsters. If you don’t get your shit together and learn to fly right, we’ll take your Benedict Cumberbatch away from you. Don’t think we’re kidding, mister, you better buck up. God, what a mess.