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Ten Foods and Drinks You Probably Didn’t Know Were Invented in London

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Most of the world doesn’t think of Britain as a food hub, much less London as a cuisine capital.  However, it might surprise you to know some of the world’s favorite foods, and indeed, some of the UK’s most well-known dishes were invented right in London.  Drinks, appetizers, entrees, and desserts can all call the UK capital home.  Whatever you’re in the mood for, we recommend trying one of these ten dishes invented in London the next time you dine in the city.

###Buck’s Fizz

Very similar to a mimosa, it’s a mixture of orange juice and champagne, though in different measurements than the American brunch favorite.  Whereas a mimosa is equal parts of both, a Buck’s Fizz is two parts champagne to one-part OJ.  It was first served by bartender Malachy McGarry at Buck’s Club in 1921, a full four years before the French invented the mimosa.

###Earl Grey Tea

Stories abound about the origins of Earl Grey Tea, but nearly all of them involve Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, who was Prime Minister in the 1830s.  Earl Grey is a black tea flavored with bergamot oil, a bergamot being a small type or orange.  Both Jacksons of Piccadilly and Twinings claim to have invented Earl Grey tea, with the former saying that the original recipe has never left their hands.

###Gin

Okay, so the root of gin, genever, comes from the Dutch, but gin as we know it is a London invention.  Gin started appearing in England in the early 17th Century with many people making it in their own homes, so much that by 1723, it’s estimated that one in four London homes had its own distillery.  It ended up proving a cheaper alternative to the heavily-taxed brandy.

###Scotch Eggs

This wonderful appetizer (or snack depending on when you eat them) comes courtesy of the great department store Fortnum & Mason, who claims to have invented Scotch eggs in 1738.  This delectable foodstuff is made with a soft-boiled egg wrapped in a thin layer of sausage and then fried.   F&M included them in their famous hampers, so even if they actually didn’t invent them, they certainly helped make them popular.

###Fish and Chips

Brought to England by immigrants, each of the dishes that makes up fish and chips came together in London, though some detractors will claim it first came about in London.  Equally muddled is which chippy opened first, though the National Federation of Fish Fryers agrees the city’s first fish and chip shops were opened by Joseph Malin around 1860.  The first mention of it in literature comes from Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities one year prior to Malin’s first shop.

###Omelette Arnold Bennet

Named for the famed writer, the Omelette Arnold Bennett was a creation of the Savoy Hotel as a snack for Mr. Bennett in 1929.  The omelet is filled with parmesan, cream, and haddock and was served to the author during his regular visits to the restaurant while working on his novels.  The dish remains on the Savoy’s restaurant menu to this day.

###Smoked Salmon

It seems like an awful lot of fishy foods first appeared in London, and while most salmon served comes from Scotland, smoked salmon was brought to the East End of London by Jewish immigrants who settled in that part of the city.  Smoking the fish was more about practicality than flavor, as the smoking process helped it to last longer.

###Wedding Cakes

Some type of cake to celebrate a wedding has been around longer than England, but the modern wedding cake is another London invention.  The story goes that in 1703, baker’s apprentice Thomas Rich fell in love with his employer’s daughter and baked an extravagant cake for her to prove his affections.  Located in Ludgate Hill, he actually based the cake’s tiers on the steeple of nearby St. Bride’s Church.

###Chelsea Buns

The Chelsea bun gets its name from an 18th Century bakery known as the Bun Shop in Chelsea.  While the bakery itself was demolished in 1839, its famous creation lives on.  The buns are made from a rich yeast dough that includes cinnamon, lemon peel, and black currants, then rolled into a spiral shape and covered in more currants, and butter.  It was said to be a favorite of King George II, and he would serve it to his guests.

###Peach Melba

Another dish invented at the Savoy, Peach Melba was the creation of Savoy chef Auguste Escoffier as a tribute to Australian soprano Nellie Melba around 1892 or 1893.  This delicious dessert is a combination of peaches, ice cream, and raspberry sauce.  It wasn’t the last food that Escoffier created for Melba, with him developing Melba toast in 1897 as a staple of her diet when she became ill.

John Rabon
Author: John Rabon

John is a regular writer for Anglotopia and its sister websites. He is currently engaged in finding a way to move books slightly to the left without the embarrassment of being walked in on by Eddie Izzard. For any comments, questions, or complaints, please contact the Lord Mayor of London, Boris Johnson's haircut.