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Spotted Dick? 10 Weird Traditional British Foods You You Will Love or Hate

By Annie André

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Weird British Food You Will Love To Hate

Try the Crepes in France, the Curryvurst in Germany or the Pad Thai in Thailand but what the heck do you try in the U.K., a country not really known for their delicious food; often described as bland, heavy or unremarkable?

10 Weird Traditional British Foods You May Or May Not Love But Gotta Try:

Some people travel to visit museums, castles and tourist attractions without giving the local foods a second thought.

To others like me, it’s the food that draws me in. Without it, travelling wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the unique and memorable foods found in the places I travel to because more often than not, the local food tells me as much about the local history and culture as many of the tourist spots.

I’ve put together 10 dishes from Great Britain which you will probably find weird. Many have funny names or look unappealing but each one has a a fascinating story behind it. In the least you owe it to yourself to try these traditional dishes on your next trip to the UK.

pintrestpin about 10 Weird Traditional British Foods You You Will Love or Hate

1- Spotted Dick

Weird Traditional British Food: spotted-dick

No this isn’t some terrible sexually transmitted disease that you need to go see a Doctor about.

Sometimes called spotted dog, the name(s) alone make this dish sound like some weird British food when in fact it’s nothing more than a steamed sponge pudding (cake) with raisins or currants, flour, sugar, milk and Suet.

Suet is  Britain’s version of lard or animal fat for cooking. It is the fat found around the kidney and other organs in animals used in pastry, steamed puddings and minced meat pies.

Why Is It Called Spotted Dick? The raisins and currants are what make this Dick spotted (hee hee). I found conflicting information regarding the “DICK” part of the name.

Some sources say the word dick is either a colloquial word for pudding or an antiquated word that meant hard cheese.

Where Can You Get Spotted Dick? You can pretty much find spotted dick on the desert menu of many restaurants. Only now when you see it, you won’t be scared to order it.  You can also get canned spotted dick to bring home to your friends. Watch them giggle as they read the name on the can.

2 Haggis

Weird Traditional British Food: Haggis
Haggis is the national dish of Scotland and a trip to Scotland without trying haggis is like not trying crepes in France.   

What’s In It? Once you find out what goes into haggis, you’ll really think food in Great Britain is weird because the main ingredients sound more like parts of the animal you would throw out rather than put in your mouth.

Haggis’s main ingredient is called sheep’s “pluck” (sheep throat, lungs, liver and heart) which is chopped up and combined with oats, onions, suet (animal fat) and spices. The whole thing is mixed and stuffed into a sheep’s stomach and then boiled in water for a few hours.

If you can get past the “what’s in it” part, you’ll find that it’s actually quite good. It has a peppery and nutty flavour and it’s texture is crumbly and somewhat crunchy not gooey at all.

Where To Eat Haggis: Haggis is everywhere but look for it on your plate when you order a traditional Scottish breakfast.

3. Scotch Wood Cock

Weird Traditional British Food: Scotch-woodcock

Here is another traditional dish with an unfortunate name. Not quite as bad as spotted dick but still evokes dirty images in my mind.

What’s In Scotch woodcock? There is no Scotch and no Woodcock in this dish. (giggle giggle, a woodcock is actually a bird).  Scotch Woodcock is simply creamed scrambled eggs on buttered toast spread with a thin layer of anchovy paste or gentlemen’s relish ( anchovy paste and spices) topped off with a pinch of cayenne pepper. It’s actually quite nice and the thin spread of anchovy paste gives it a slightly salty taste that is not fishy at all.

Where Can You Get Scotch Woodcock? This dish dates back to the Victorian times when it was served at the end of a large meal! These days most people eat it for breakfast, brunch or as a light snack. It’s not quite as popular as it used to be so you won’t find it in every breakfast house but you can ask. 

You don’need to go to England to try this because it’s so easy to make. Ilike to put fresh anchovies instead of paste and I add capers and sometimes I’ll put chorizo on it too. Oh god, I am getting so hungry now. mmmmmmmm.

4. Laver Bread

Weird Traditional British Food: laver-bread

Despite the name, this traditional Welsh delicacy is not bread at all.

What’s In Laver Bread? Laver bread is actually made with Laver seaweed which is found on the western coast of the British Isles. It grows on beaches where rocks are embedded in sand. The best way to describe laver bread is it’s green, slimy and looks like boiled spinach. To make laver bread, it’s simply boiled, then pureed or minced.

Where can you find laver bread? You can find laver bread in different forms in local restaurants. One popular way you’ll find it served is in a traditional welsh breakfast where it’s mixed with fine oatmeal then rolled into little cakes and fried into crisp patties with eggs, bacon and cockles (clams).

5. Stargazy Pie (English Sardine pie)

Weird Traditional British Food: stargazey-pie

Two Words, Fish and Pie. Apparently, this dish has fallen out of favour in the UK because many of my British friends had never heard of this dish. . Hmmm I wonder why. Could it be because this Cornish delicacy looks unappealing and weird with a bunch of  fish heads poking out of the crust?

Originally from the fishing village called Mousehole in Cornwall where legend has it that on the 23 of December, Tom Bawcock went out on his fishing boat despite horrible stormy weather and difficult seas.

He caught enough fish to feed the entire village. The fish were baked into a pie and the heads were left poking out to prove there were actually fish inside.  The fish literally look like they are staring up at the stars, hence the name “Stargazy Pie”. His actions saved the town from starving and ever since,  Tom Bawcock Eve festival is held on the 23 of December in the small town of Mousehole.

What is in Stargazy Pie? The original recipe had seven different types of fish baked into the pie but these days Sardines are used. (In the UK Sardines are called pilchard). Along with Sardines, there are usually chopped eggs, potatoes and onions in the pie. The heads are left poking up so all the delicious fish oils flow back into the pie which gives the pie a fuller flavour and keeps it moister too.

Where can you get stargazy pie? This fishy pie is mainly eaten around Christmas time especially in the town of Mousehole but you can make some stargazy pie if you like too. It’s not really that hard at all and actually pretty tasty despite the fact that fish heads poking out just sounds and looks wrong.

Here is a lovely recipe for Stargazey pie for you to follow. Let me know how it tastes.

6- Yorkshire Pudding

Weird Traditional British Food: yorkshire-pudding

I absolutely love Yorkshire pudding and I am absolutely positively sure that you will too. But don’t try to eat this as a desert because Yorkshire pudding is NOT a desert despite the word PUDDING. Or at least not the kind I am used to eating. You know the milk and sugar based pudding . Puddings in the UK can be both savoury and sweet.

What’s in Yorkshire pudding? This very English dish is basically a pop-over made of baked egg batter ( flour + eggs + milk) and it’s typically eaten with a roast beef but can also be eaten on it’s own slathered in delicious gravy…

Where Can You Find Yorkshire pudding? You can find Yorkshire pudding almost everywhere you can order a rib roast in the UK.

7. Toad in the Hole

Weird Traditional British Food: toad-in-a-hole

Toad in a hole can best be described as a distant cousin to Pigs in a blanket and there are no toads or frogs in this dish either, so relax.

What’s in Toad In A Hole?   Toad in a  hole consists of baking sausages in a flour and egg batter aka Yorkshire pudding batter.

Where can you find toad in a hole?  Typically this is something you would make at home with some onion gravy. Like it’s cousin pigs in a blanket, it usually is a hit with the kids.

8. Faggots:

Weird Traditional British Food: faggots meat balls

Yet another unfortunate name that does not really describe the food at all. I mean look at the description on the box above.

“YOU asked for it! Now with MORE sauce. Mr. Brain’s 4 pork Faggots” It just sounds wrong…

What’s in faggots? Faggots are large meatballs made of organs and entrails (offal), usually from the pig. I know it sounds gross and unless you grew up with it, you probably won’t appreciate the taste.

Where can you eat faggots?  Faggots were at the height of their popularity during World War II when there were heavy food rations. These days, now that people are not FORCED to eat them, they have become less popular BUT…. you can still find them in some rustic restaurants, traditional butcher shops, open market stalls and in some supermarkets. My guess is that the older generation might still like these Faggot meat balls. Mr. Brains (LOL),  is a popular brand that sells faggots in the frozen food section. If you do decide to try them, a popular dish is “Faggots and Peas”. God that name is horrible.

9. Piccalilli

Weird Traditional British Food: piccalilli-relisch-sauce

Piccalilli is actually a British interpretation of Indian pickles. India used to be a British colony and now some of the best Indian Restaurants outside of India can be found in the U.K.

What’s in Piccalilli? Piccalilli is a relish of chopped, pickled vegetables. Recipe’s vary but in general they include cauliflower, mustard and turmeric. It’s the turmeric that gives this relish it’s yellow tint. It tastes similar to sweet pickles except it is tangier and less sweet. It can be prepared so that it is larger and chunkier or diced smaller so that it can be more easily eaten as a bread spread.

Where can you find Piccalilli? Piccalilli can be found in most British supermarkets and there are loads of recipes online to make your own. It is usually served as a side or accompaniment to sausages, eggs, cheese, toast, tomatoes.

10. Black pudding

Weird Traditional British Food: black-pudding blood sausage

Black pudding is yet another British name that kind throws you for a loop. Yes, black pudding is black but why they call everything  pudding is beyond me. Black pudding is actually BLOOD SAUSAGE.

Now before you shrivel away from this dish, you should know that blood sausages are eaten all over the world and if you have never tried it, you don’t know what you are missing.

What’s in black pudding? Generally blood pudding in the UK is made with pigs’ blood,  pork fat, onions, oats, barley and various spices.  The mixture is cooked down until it’s nice and thick and then stuffed in a length of intestine.  It’s texture tends to be crumbly and mealy with an earthy aroma.

Where do you get black pudding? Although the ingredients sound like something Count Dracula might enjoy, It is actually very popular. Many breakfast houses in the UK serve black pudding as part of a full Scottish or English breakfast right next to your eggs and bangers. You can also purchase ready made black puddings which just need a gentle re-heating. Then cut thick slices and gently grill them, fry them in a pan or warm them in the oven. I prefer pan fried myself.

What Do You Think?

There you have it.  10 traditional and somewhat weird British foods you should try on your next trip to the UK. Now when you see spotted Dick on the menu, you won’t wonder what it is. You will know.

Have you ever tried any of these or heard of these dishes. What’s your most and least favourite? Leave your comments below. 

  1. Hey… Annie your blog is very wonderful, but I possess a problem which is that I am vegan and I can’t eat these nutrients.. But through your blog I got lot information here like national dish. Thanks for sharing..

  2. Hello Annie,

    Honestly if someone give this all to me for free? I can say no to accept it but sorry to the giver I really can’t eat this kind of food. :) Sorry but I’m just being honest.

  3. I think about four of these. I thought I would have tried one or two, but I came up zero. That’s what I get for not being much of a foodie.

    So there must be some rule in the UK to name their local foods as bizarrely as possible. I know the names probably come from some antiquated source, but it’s still funny to me.

    I wanted to try spotted dick when I was in London last year, but I forgot to look for it. I’m not a desert eater much. I’ll have to make the effort next time.

  4. Hi Annie:

    Being a big foodie myself
    all I can say is WOW –
    so lucky to have had the opportunity to enjoy all that YUMMY food.

    Will be back to read more of all your articles.

    Great posts.

    Have a good one.

    Take care.
    Regards

    Veena :)

  5. Hi Annie:

    How are you?

    Loved the headline that you have for this post –
    It took me a few seconds to realize that I was reading it right.
    Great one!

    Now I must admit that I have never had any of this food
    But who knows? –
    It’s a small world.

    Have you really tasted all of this food?
    Am curious.

    Thanks for the share.
    Take care.

    Best wishes and regards.

    Veena :)

    1. Veena,
      I have tried everything on this list except
      PICCALILLI and the FAGGOT meat balls. I am actually planning on making some piccalilli soon since there are so many recipes online for this recipe. I doubt i will try the faggot balls though..

  6. OMG Annie I was shivering with disgust here. Yuck!!!

    I kept going down the list thinking okay they just put those weird names in for a reason but we’re going to get to some good ingredients. I never found any.

    To be honest with you, I wouldn’t eat any of that. Nope, not going in my mouth. Yuck!!! Yeah, I’m weird and proud of it girl.

    ~Adrienne

    1. Adrienne,
      I had a feeling this might upset you.. :) The funny thing is, not all Brits like what I have on this list. Perfectly understandable. I asked a few personal friends and a few of them said that they did not like some things on this list so youère not alone. But, I think you would like the Yorkshire pudding. Itès just a popover.
      As far as the scotch woodcock goes, If you like Caesar salad you should like this too. The real Caesar are made with anchovies. everything else on this list, well sometimes you just have to grow up with some foods to appreciate them. It’s an acquired taste.

  7. Hi Annie

    My parents came from England and never made any of that stuff or even talked about it, other than mention Yorkshire pudding. My sister made Yorkshire pudding for us one time. It was very good.

    My mother used to make stem puddings a lot. She did use suet for puddings and mincemeat pies.

    Some of those recipes I doubt that I would even want to try. Don’t like eating fish with head and tails on, don’t want them looking back at me!

    Mary..

    1. No haggis? No spotted Dick. wow? those are two things I for sure would have thought you would have eaten at least once especially with a full Scottish or english breakfast. I can see how the fish head pie would not be talked about by your parents since that’s more of a speciality of a smallish town. Just goes to show you that not everyone eats all the foods of their own country.. :) People here in France assume that since I lived in the US and Canada that I went to MCDonalds and ate pizza. They were shocked when I said I don’t like pizza and had not been to a McDonalds in over 10 years. :)

  8. Hmmm, I’ve heard of all of these and tasted most of them apart from #3 and #5.

    I absolutely love Toad in the Hole. One of my favourites!

    Spotted Dick is a family favourite, although not one of mine.

    I love Yorkshire Pudding with a roast dinner, such as chicken or beef.

    You mention it’s not a dessert but as kids we would have it as dessert.

    My granny used to fill the puddings with butter and brown sugar and they tasted absolutely divine!

    1. Hi Tim,
      Interesting about the yorkshire pudding being desert. In the traditional sense, Yorkshire pudding is not what we ( Americans or Canadians ) would eat as desert.

      Having said that, I ended up eating it for desert not too long ago. I made too many so we took the leftover and dusted it with powdered sugar and put fresh strawberries over it. yummy yum.. Funny thing is the batter for Yorkshire pudding is not that different from crepes except that there are more eggs in the batter for Yorkshire pudding. Getting hungry now. And isn’t scotch woodcock a Scottish dish? A good friend of mine from from Dumfries said he eats Scotch woodcock once a week.

  9. Hi Annie,

    You had my mouth watering, though for the desserts and puddings alone. :)

    I guess being a complete vegetarian, I wouldn’t go in for the non-veg stuff, but they do look tempting enough – and weird to some extent too! I never really had any idea that these were the traditional food that Britishers like. Yes, had heard of one or two of those puddings from my grandma age back, that’s about it.

    Thanks for sharing these with us. Have a nice day ahead :)

  10. You make a good point. You’ve inspired me to write a vegetarian post about 10 British vegetarian dishes you might like to eat. I am sure there must be many right?
    I’ll ask my British friends and see what they come up with. Thanks for stopping by. Always love your feedback.

Comments are closed.

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