British Food Non-Brits Can’t Understand


The other day I made myself the meal above – tuna and pasta bake. It’s one of my absolute favourite meals, but I remember making it in Germany and having my flatmate think that I’m crazy for wanting to eat something so crap. Tuna paste bake IS crap – but it’s an essential part of British student cuisine!

So it got me thinking about British food that non-Brits don’t understand, or just dislike. British cuisine has a bad rep worldwide (which I think is largely unfair! We have awesome food here!) and there are some really odd specialities that you can come across.

So what I did was take to Facebook and ask my wonderful international friends what they they dislike about British food! Here’s what they said…

“[A Japanese girl I know] can’t handle pickled walnuts” (Brit) – I have never heard of pickled walnuts! Is that a thing?! I don’t think I’d be able to eat them either.

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“Yorkshire pudding…also crumpets” (Irish) – I can’t believe anyone would ever dislike Yorkshire puddings – that glorious crispy yet chewy shell, full of delicious, delicious gravy. And crumpets?! Round, airy yet thick slabs on which you can melt butter, plop a bit of jam, or if you are adventurous, some cheese! I can’t understand why you WOULND’T like these things!!

I remember putting vinegar on chips in Japan and a few girls tried it then screwed their faces up. I don’t know if many other countries put vinegar on chips though?” (Brit) – I love putting vinegar on chips. When I went to Five Guys in New York, they had vinegar there, but maybe that was just a special thing there? I don’t know.

I love ALL British food! The only one that is not on this list is …(drumrolls please) Marmite! (I do like veggemite and Bovril though).” (Russian) – Yeah, I don’t like Marmite either. There’s this video I love where they get tourists to try it on the streets of London… hehe!

Haggis. Fried mars bars. Mushy peas on fish and chips. Bovril. Head cheese.” (Aussie) – I had no idea what head cheese was and actually googled it. It’s a thing. And yeah, I wouldn’t eat that either. I’d have a deep fried Mars bar once – just one bite. It wasn’t pleasant. 

I knew a German guy at uni who could not fathom baked beans. He was like “why would you put perfectly good haricot beans in tomato sauce, IN A CAN?” and I was like “WTF are haricot beans? You’re crazy.” Then I learnt that baked beans are actually haricot beans. True story.” (Brit) – Again, I didn’t even think about them being haricot beans until I read that. I mean, baked beans grow in the cans, right? Like can…trees?

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My husband can not fathom Bread and butter pudding – too mushy.” (Aussie) – Bread and butter pudding was my granddad’s favourite thing ever. Whenever he came over to ours, I’d make it for him. It’s essentially layers of bread and raisins, then you pour a mixture of milk, eggs and sugar over the top and bake it. The key is to use LOADS of eggs, maybe even 6 or so for a pudding the size of the one above. 

Does Tesco Value stuff qualifies as food? Oh wait you said ‘only Brits can love’. 
As a Spaniard: to us most of your dishes are the equivalent of student dorm experiments on cooking. No offence intended.
Gravy. Why?”


What British food can you just not understand the appeal of?


  1. An IRISH person who doesn’t like Yorkshire pudding? What? But… don’t they eat roast dinners in Ireland, too? I’m confused!

    I have never heard of pickled walntus, so I googled them and Wikipedia says “Picked walnuts have been a delicacy in England since at least the early 19th-century. Charles Dickens mentions them in his book The Pickwick Papers, published in 1836.” Umm… okay then.

    Tuna pasta bake is my go-to “can’t be bothered to cook properly” meal. But I put vegetables in mine and add crisps to the top. Jan LOVES it!

    The vinegar thing… there is no malt vinegar in Germany, and I found out most Germans imagine we put white wine vinegar on our chips, which I agree would be horrible! Once I introduce people to malt vinegar they tend to understand. Also, when Germans hear mint sauce, they imagine a thick white sauce that tastes like toothpase. YUK!

    I can totally understand those who don’t like Marmite though. Evil stuff! I can’t even stand the smell of it!
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    • Charlotte says:

      I think maybe they do have roasts but not Yorkshires??? I think we need to educate Germans about mint sauce and how awesome it is.

  2. I love vinigar on my chips, but my American husband can’t stand it, which means it’s a great way to keep him out if them!

    He’d also never heard of Shepard’s Pie (I think he’d love it,though) or trifle before we met. He thought clotted cream sounded gross until I bought some clotted cream flavoured fudge at a British shop in Hamburg.

    I remember buying digestive biscuits once, giving one to my boyfriend at the time and hearing him say in a very small, quiet and confused voice “my biscuit has ‘digestive’ on it?” I don’t think he really gave it a chance after that.
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  3. Sarah Grace says:

    I love malt vinegar or mayo on my fries. I really do hate mushy peas, tuna bake, and marmite, though. I love bread puddings so much that I have at least six different recipes ! What I don’t understand about the baked beans is why you eat them from the can instead of making them from scratch and serving them as a side ? (that’s how my family has always done it)

    • Charlotte says:

      Uck I hate mushy peas too! I would never makes baked beans from scratch – the canned ones are sooo good and it wouldn’t be the same otherwise!

  4. Surprisingly, there isn’t much British food available in the U.S., which is weird because a lot of Americans are kind of obsessed with anything British! I’m one of those people! I’ve definitely had a tuna pasta bake before and it’s delish! I’ve never had Yorkshire pudding, Haggis, veggemite, or marmite. You can buy salt and vinegar potato chips, but I personally don’t like the taste.
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  5. Yummmm… tuna bake is the best 🙂
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  6. THIS is one of my biggest gripes ever!!! People knocking British food, especially if they don’t know anything about it. Spain seems to be particularly bad for that, but it’s like ranting at a wall 😉 I’m not going to give up, though…

    Oooooh, bread and butter pudding… the most glorious thing on Earth…
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  7. Oh my hod! How can people NOT love Yorkshire puds!!?!
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  8. I actually like these food, Charlotte! I also put vinegar on my Fish & Chips. I think I’m a bit weird, I don’t grow up eating natto, but I ended up loving natto (ditto w/ my little boy), and kimchi (we don’t have any Japanese/Korean blood running through our veins :-D). Maybe we just love foods. Thanks for the post.
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  9. Most of the above resonate with me…I don’t get the idea of vinegar on chips, and cringe at the thought of a fried Mars Bar. I love Yorkshire puddings and breadad butter pudding though, and do believe there’s some awesome food here in the UK

    The one thing I can’t stomach mac’n’cheese…it’s waaaaay too cheesy and greasy for my buds. there are so many simple yet tasty pasta sauces around…I just don’t get why everyone’s so crazy about that. Ditto for putting crisps in sandwiches….WHAT?? 😛

    On a similar note, the next time you want a quick tuna and pasta meal, try cooking pasta and preparing a warm sauce with tomato, garlic, tuna and bay leaf. It takes 10 minutes, and you have my Italian word it’s worth it!

    • Ah, but mac’n’cheese is American! I’ve never had it – and don’t really see the appeal.
      Omg that tuna pasta recipe sounds amazing!! I’ll be trying it this week for sure.

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