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The secrets behind the UK's most famous dishes


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Part of Britain’s charm is, of course, the food. Traditionally, of course, there's the Sunday roast, bangers and mash and fish and chips. But what happens when you look a bit deeper into the traditions of the different regions?

Every place in the country has their own special dish... but where did they come from? And what makes them so special?

Image credit: A Perry, via Flickr

The Hog’s Head Inn researched some of the country's most famous dishes. We have picked five of the very best and found out where they originated from, and the mysteries and secrets that surround them...

Eton mess

Image credit: Insatiable Munch, via Flickr

A light and traditional English dessert, Eton Mess is made up of strawberries, cream and smashed meringue. It's rumoured to have come from Eton College (hence the name) back in the late 18th Century. The story surrounds a cricket match between Eton and their rivals Harrow School - apparently a strawberry, cream and meringue pudding was prepared and later accidentally dropped, smashing the meringue. 

There have been many disputing stories about where the dessert actually comes from, including one that features a labrador at a picnic... but nobody knows what is actually true. Maybe it's the mystery that helps to make Eton Mess that bit more delicious.

Pease Pudding

Don’t let the appearance of this savoury staple of the north deter you from trying it. Made by boiling legumes (a mixture of peas, lentils, chickpeas and varied beans) then mixed with water, salt and spices into a paste. Usually paired with a joint of ham or bacon and sandwiched this is the much-loved pick-me-up. It's even referred to as 'Geordie caviar'

Although its origins aren’t exactly known, it is said that before potatoes arrived in the British Isles, pease pottage (the puddings predecessor) was one of the main dishes eaten in medieval England but we just loved it that much we decided to keep it going.

Lancashire Hotpot

Hearty and homely, this stew was made by the working classes of North West England. Before industrialisation, the scraps and cheaper cuts of mutton were stewed slowly over a low fire, which was regularly attended to by the members of the family over the course of a day, due to unquestionably long working hours. 

Topped by thinly sliced potatoes and onions, the slow cooking process allows the flavours of the meat to soak into the potatoes, creating a rich and delicious taste from start to finish, and an affordable dish for the families of post-war Britain to come home to. 

Chicken tikka masala

Image credit: Veronica, via Flickr

This may come as a surprise to some, but it's a perfect example of how Britain multiculturalism. Historically, of course, the chicken tikka’s origins lie truly in India.

However, the Scot's believe it was actually them who truly invented the dish. It was in an Indian restaurant in Glasgow that a customer declared their wishes to have their chicken tikka smothered in a sauce as it was ‘too dry’, and with that the chicken tikka masala was born. 

Stargazy pie

Last, but not least, this is not one for the faint-hearted! This unusual dish hails from a small fishing village in Cornwall called Mousehole. Made from a variety of different fish, the name comes from the heads of the fish protruding through the pastry - appearing to be ‘gazing at the stars’.

Every year the Cornish village celebrates Tom Bowcock’s Eve. Back in the 16th Century, when frightening storms hit the coastline and the main source of food was from the sea, fishermen weren’t able to land their catch due to the extreme conditions. Tom Bowcock, however, stepped forward and caught enough fish to feed the whole village, thus filling several pies with several types of fish. Some local pubs even serve the dish for free on the day (23rd December) to honour Bowcock.

These are just five dishes that are shrouded with secrets and mystery, would you be brave enough to try stargazy pie? Or will you be sticking to Eton mess?

Lead image credit: Insatiable Munch, via Flickr

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