The Food of London

Find out about the foods traditionally associated with the capital city of London...

London is the foodie capital of Britain. If you can eat it - and this is food from anywhere in the world - you'll probably find it on sale here somewhere. For native produce, markets like Billingsgate (fish) and Smithfield (meat) have been the largest such trading centres in Britain for centuries. The East End was once known for its jellied eels and meat pies; some of the Eel Pie and Mash houses, dating to the 18th century, have survived, and could be deemed to serve up the most 'authentic' London food. If pie and mash are representative of traditional working-class Londoner grub, then Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly and Harrods Food Hall in Knightsbridge have ritually catered for the social antipode. Both retain an impeccable pedigree, drawing in the best food from around Britain. But the capital's modern cuisine is defined by its eclecticism; Chinese, Lebanese, Italian, Indian, Polish, Sudanese - the variety of food reflects the diversity of the population.

Three great London dishes of yore:

  • Bubble and squeak: Thrifty dish using leftover cabbage and potato that was once a winter favourite with Londoners. The name derives from the sound it makes during cooking
  • Boodle's orange fool: Akin to a trifle (a cold desert layered with sponge cake, fruit, custard, jelly and cream), the fool was a speciality of Boodle's, a gentleman's club founded in 1762
  • London Particular: A thick soup made with peas and bacon stock, named after the capital's famous 'pea-souper' fogs.
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