The Food of Eastern and South East England

Find out about the foods traditionally associated with the south east of England...

The dark soils of Lincolnshire produce one-fifth of the country's food, while East Anglia rears much of the nation's meat and poultry. The east of England is, therefore, perhaps better known for its foodstuffs than its dishes. Grimsby and Lowestoft are the main fishing ports, and if you follow the East Anglian coastline clockwise you encounter Stiffkey Blues (cockles), Cromer crabs, Yarmouth bloaters (herring), Colchester oysters and Southend whitebait; delicacies the lot. The East Anglian saltmarshes also harbour samphire (sea asparagus), picked at low tide from June to September.

Inland, vast orchards grow soft fruits, while villages like Tiptree, in Essex, still mash up the produce for fine jam. Roast Norfolk Black turkeys, introduced to England in the early 1500s, Suffolk cured ham and Newmarket sausages are three meaty specialities. Further south, at Whitstable in Kent, the Dredgerman's Breakfast is a gut-busting plate of streaky bacon, shelled oysters and thick bread. On Kent's southern fringe the grazed salty marshes at Romney produce a flavoursome lamb, while sweet southern teeth are sated by the Sussex pond pudding (a steamed buttery blob hiding an entire lemon), Isle of Wight doughnuts and Richmond Maids of Honour (small round cheesecakes).

Three great eastern foods:

  • Cromer crab: A north Norfolk legend renowned for its high proportion of white meat. Enjoyed in various recipes but at its best simply boiled and dressed in the shell
  • Haslet: A long loaf of seasoned, chopped and cured pork that probably has its origins in Lincolnshire. Usually sliced and served cold
  • Melton Mowbray pork pie: More Midlands than eastern perhaps; either way, the combo of chopped pork filling, jelly layer and coat of brown pastry has become a national treasure
Extract from Speak the Culture Britain, a Thorogood publication, supported by the British Council Speak the Culture series website / Buy online Copyright ® 2009 Thorogood Publishing