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Have you tried these weird and wonderful British foods?

When you think of unusual or exotic foods, Britain might not be the first place your mind wanders. Yet the British Isles presents a smorgasbord of strange delicacies, alongside more well-loved foods we all can't get enough of.

Have you tried these weird and wonderful British foods?
'Toad in the Hole' doesn't include amphibians as an ingredient - but there are plenty of other peculiar British foods. Photo: Getty Images

Together with online supermarket, British Corner Shop, we take a tour of some of the UK’s most distinct dishes – and reintroduce you to some perennial classics. 

Icky ingredients 

If you think the French have the market cornered on strange delicacies, think again. Brits have long enjoyed some truly odd grub. 

Britain’s existence as a collection of islands has meant that the sea and rivers flowing into it have long provided a wealth of food – and some are less familiar to outsiders than others. 

The Welsh, for instance, love laverbread, a dish made of shredded and stewed seafood, and traditionally served at breakfast with bacon and tiny shellfish called cockles.

Londoners have also lived on cockles since Roman times, and the Thames is littered with their empty shells, tossed in by snacking locals. Another favourite taken from the Thames are jellied eels. This dish consists of chopped freshwater eel, boiled in stock and allowed to cool into a jelly. Amazingly, it’s considered at its best served cold!

Off the coast of Norfolk and Suffolk, fishing fleets have been bringing in loads of herring since the Middle Ages. While many herring are eaten fresh, others are aged and smoked in giant sheds that can be smelled long before they can be seen. Slice one of these smoked herring down the middle and you’ve got that classic breakfast treat, a kipper! 

Further inland, there are more strange snacks being enjoyed. There is, of course, the famous Scottish haggis – sheep’s organs minced and cooked inside the stomach of the animal. Such is the popularity of the dish, there are now vegetarian versions available. 

Not in the mood for eels or haggis? British Corner Shop can deliver over 6000 other British goodies directly to your door

Traditional pork pies often seem quite strange to non-Brits, with the filling inside the crust surrounded by pork jelly, made from boiled pig’s trotters and other connective tissue. In fact, some Britons think this is the best part! 

Perhaps the weirdest British delicacy of all, however, is the humble Stilton cheese – albeit a version covered in cheese mites! In centuries past, the presence of these tiny mites used to be highly prized, as it was believed their burrowing into the rind of the cheese imbued it with a special flavour. 

As the famous author Daniel Deoe wrote during his travels in the 1720s, “…we pass’d Stilton, a town famous for cheese, which is call’d our English Parmesan, and is brought to table with the mites, or maggots round it, so thick, that they bring a spoon with them for you to eat the mites with, as you do the cheese.”

Would you try a slice of mite-y cheese? 

Naughty nicknames 

For every British dish with a strange ingredient, there’s another with a peculiar name – whether odd, misleading or just plain rude. 

The particularly descriptive spotted dick, for example, is a suet pudding containing dried fruit. The name comes from the appearance of the fruit in the dough, or ‘dick’ as it used to be called. 

The similarly memorable toad in the hole consists of sausages baked into Yorkshire pudding, with the name supposedly referring to toads waiting near ponds for their prey. 

Rumbledethumps is a traditional Scottish casserole made from leftover cauliflower, while Welsh rarebit is toast with a thick cheese sauce. That Christmas favourite, mince pie doesn’t actually include meat, but a lot of fruit, and bubble and squeak, a fry up of leftover vegetables, gets its name from the noise it makes on the stove. 

Never let it be said that the Brits are an unimaginative lot! 

Feel like serving up your favourite British dishes? British Corner Shop has all your favourite brands, delivered across Europe 

Care for a Cuppa: Whether it’s an sophisticated afternoon or an English breakfast, British Corner Shop has your favourite brands. Photo: Getty Images

Treasured treats

As wild and wacky as British foods can be, there are plenty of iconic food and snack brands that have been putting a smile on faces for decades. 

Cadbury chocolate, for example, is a big hit with readers of The Local – their Cadbury Flake bar topped the poll in our last article. Cadbury also produce the Curly Wurly, the Crunchie and of course, the Dairy Milk block.  

Walkers Crisps are another popular favourite across the UK, with an ever-growing range of flavours available – Salted, Salt & Vinegar, Cheese & Onion, Roast Chicken and of course, Prawn Cocktail. Which flavour do you miss most? 

Biscuits such as Jaffa Cakes and Jammie Dodgers are classic treats to be shared over a cup of Yorkshire Tea or PG Tips – or maybe with a Percy Pig

Of course, British food is about far more than just treats. Staple spreads like Marmite and Branston Pickle have been brightening the mornings of Brits for a long time, while the nation has long turned to the high-quality ingredients from Marks and Spencer to make any meal just that little bit more special. 

Feeling a bit peckish? Treat yourself! 

British Corner Shop has been providing Brits and anglophiles abroad the best of British food for years. Now they are able to deliver anywhere in the EU – including baked goods, such as devon scones – within a matter of days. 

With a huge selection on offer, competitive prices and ‘Brit Kits’ – a curated variety of boxes for those who can’t decide on just a few items – it’s the perfect place for those looking for iconic hard-to-find UK foods. 

Get a bumper taste of Blighty with an order of your favourites from British Corner Shop

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EUROPEAN UNION

British Jews take German path to Europe after Brexit

British nationals of Jewish descent, whose relatives fled Nazi-occupied Europe, are taking the difficult decision to restore the citizenship stripped from them by the Third Reich as Brexit looms. We spoke to those affected.

British Jews take German path to Europe after Brexit
Some British nationals of Jewish heritage are restoring German citizenship. Photo: DPA

Two of British opera singer Simon Wallfisch's great-grandparents were shot in mass graves by the Nazis and another died in a concentration camp.

So it was with pangs of guilt and triumphant defiance that Wallfisch took on German citizenship once his country decided to leave the European Union after 46 years.

“I've had to use a major family tragedy to shore up some security for my future and my family's future,” Wallfisch, who is also a cellist, told AFP while taking a break from a protest performance of the European anthem outside the British parliament as MPs prepare for a historic vote on Brexit later on Tuesday.

“Of course there are mixed emotions,” the 36-year-old father of two said.

Rising tide 

About 70,000 Jews fled Nazi-occupied Europe to Britain in the harrowing years preceding World War II.

A rising tide of their children and grandchildren are now overcoming misgivings and using a clause of the German constitution to restore the citizenship stripped from them by the Third Reich.

Official Berlin figures show only 43 Britons applying for German passports in 2015 under the special exception for victims of the Holocaust and their descendants.

That number jumped to 684 when Britain voted to leave the European Union in 2016. It grew again to 1,667 last year and reached 1,229 in the first nine months of 2018 as more and more people sought ways to preserve their EU right to work and travel freely across the bloc's 27 states.

Their decisions reflect the success of Germany's tortuous coming-to-terms with its history – and the anguish many Britons feel at their island nation's isolationist turn.

“On the one hand, I feel like I'm sort of a traitor to my great-grandparents,” Wallfisch said after a moment's reflection.

“On the other, I feel there's a triumph here. Me becoming German and remaining a European citizen, which I always believed I was, is a victory over the nationalists, the Nazis.”

SEE ALSO: How Brexit and the fight for rights united Britons across Europe

Identity crisis

Britain's planned March 29th departure from the European project was decided in a bitterly fought referendum that gave voice to the disaffected and those feeling abandoned by the ruling elite.

It also fed into social schisms that saw the number of anti-Semitic incidents and other hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales rise from 52,465 in 2014-15 to 80,393 in 2016-17.

Yet some taking the plunge and adopting a dual German nationality come from non-religious families that slowly shed their Jewish identities as they assimilated in the mostly Christian kingdom.

Senior Guardian newspaper reporter Amelia Hill said she was brought up in a secular household and decided to reclaim her German roots while watching “dumbstruck” as the referendum results rolled in on TV.

“I really enjoyed saying to people: I am making my family German,” she recalled.

“But when they accepted me and I had to go to pick it up with my children and my husband, I delayed that process, that last step for a long time because I suddenly thought: this isn't me, who actually am I, this just must be something I've done that is nuts.”

This identity crisis made Hill realise that she was a European Londoner at heart.

“Why would I want my children to not be able to live lives as Europeans?” she asked. “I refuse to let my identity and my children's identity be utterly changed by a minority” of the total population who voted to leave.

Overcoming history 

Some British Jews have had a harder time looking past history.

House of Lords peer Julia Neuberger – a Jewish community leader who is also a London synagogue rabbi — wrote in The Times that her mother “would neither visit Germany nor buy German things” after coming to England in 1937.

Yet Neuberger felt comfortable enough to herself try to reclaim her heritage when Brexit was voted through. She was denied on a technicality.

Popular former TV crime show presenter Nick Ross said he also got his passport “for the sake of saying something to Germany” in recognition of its struggle to overcome the past.

His decision pre-dated the referendum and he refused to blame fellow Britons too harshly for choosing a course with which he so profoundly disagreed.

Ross saw it as a natural product of the 2008-2009 global recession that eventually swept populists to power in Europe and Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States.

“There was a rebellion against all these people who were all so smug, who still seemed to be doing very well for themselves,” said Ross.

But he said he did not expect ever to leave London because “I am actually fiercely patriotically British”.

“This is still by anyone's standards a very liberal society,” said Ross. “And as long as it remains that, I am going to do all I can to support that.”

By Dmitry Zaks

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