British food: 20 best dishes

CNN  — 

If British food has come in for a bit of mockery over the years, it isn’t because the recipes are wrong. It’s because they’re misunderstood.

We call sausages “toads.” We cover offal in gravy, wrap it in pastry and call it a “pudding.” We eat eels! Real, no foolin’ eels!

None of it really makes sense to the casual observer. But that’s just one of the things that makes British cuisine so special, whether it be from any of the four corners of the UK: England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Eating British food is not just eating. It is a surrealist expedition into a magical parallel universe that will challenge almost everything your eyes, your palate and your gut know to be right and proper.

These are some of the classic British dishes:

The Full English

Full English minus the extra offal

We’re not about to claim that we’re the only nation that eats eggs and fried pork products in some form for breakfast.

But we would humbly suggest that we’ve taken the whole notion of the “cooked breakfast” to more ambitious places than anyone else would probably dare.

A proper British fry-up requires more than a plate. It requires a vast platter capable of accommodating not just predictable eggs and banal bacon but their exotic cousins: kidneys, fried bread, a sausage made entirely of blood (see black pudding, below) and a concoction of leftover potatoes and vegetables that we inexplicably call “bubble and squeak.”

See also: The Full Scottish.

Yorkshire pudding

Available on prescription.

Pudding, for you non-Brits, is what we in the UK call dessert. But the Yorkshire pudding is a liar.

It looks all puffy and mouthwatering like a pudding, right? But don’t let its friendly appearance fool you. It is not a pudding at all. Like 95% of all British cuisine, it is comprised entirely of eggs, flour, milk and fat.

Before Prozac arrived, this was often the best available alternative.

Toad in the hole

Nightmarish appearance. Dreamy taste

Exactly the same as the above recipe but with sausages and therefore 3.7 times tastier.

Black pudding

Tastier than its ingredients suggest.

Despite the name, there’s no mistaking this one for a dessert. It’s a sausage made out of blood. Congealed blood. And oats.

The trick to eating this successfully is to shut your eyes and try not to think or breathe. That way it’s actually quite exquisite.

Spotted dick