10 English foods you miss the most when you move abroad

Moving to a new country is certainly an exciting and action-packed time. Days are filled with getting unpacked and comfortable in your new home, checking out the area and discovering local shops with different products. Trying out the country’s cuisine is also a great experience, especially in the company of newly-made friends.

After a short while, when you begin to feel settled in your new country, you start missing certain foods which were staples in your diet back in the UK. The products are now unobtainable and there is nothing similar in your new location to replace them.

Missing some foods from home when you live abroad is natural, as this is an important part of life.  Now the only way to get your favorite items is to get visitors to sneak them over in their suitcases! Any expat from the United Kingdom can relate to this situation at some point.

Curious to find out what future cravings you should plan for?

These are the top 10 English foods the British miss the most when they move abroad:

1. A good cup of English tea

Missing the English tea from home is not surprising. Tea has been an important part of life in the UK since it was brought back from the British colonies in the 18th century. People in the UK are the world’s third biggest tea drinkers after Turkey and Ireland and consume 100 million cups every day!

This is despite the increase in popularity of coffee and speciality coffee shops such as Starbucks and Costa Coffee. According to The Wire, 59% of the people in the UK drink tea. Three cups a day with milk no sugar, being the most popular way to enjoy a cuppa.

Loose leaf black tea is still the favorite with Twinings, Liptons and Brooke Bond being the leading brands with ranges of high-quality teas, including Earl Grey and herbal teas such as camomile and mint.

Trying to find teas from home abroad can be challenging. Usually, a good search will reveal a supermarket that stocks one or two English brands of tea. Herbal teas do seem to be more easily found abroad.

2. A delicious biscuit – or two

Everyone loves a biscuit and 50% of the UK’s tea drinkers enjoy a biscuit with their cuppas.

In the UK film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, one of the characters best explains the art of ‘dunking a biscuit’ when you enjoy a cup of tea:

‘Dunking is lowering the biscuit into the tea and letting it soak in there and trying to calculate the exact moment before the biscuit dissolves, when you whip it up into your mouth and enjoy the blissful union of biscuits and tea combined.’

There is certainly something very special about biscuits from the UK as they really are different from all the cookies that can be found abroad and are often not as sweet. The famous digestive biscuit was first made in Scotland in 1839 by two brothers who were doctors and felt the biscuits would aid digestion. In 1892 McVitie’s started producing digestive biscuits and today, six million digestives are eaten every day in the UK.

Other much loved and missed UK biscuits include chocolate digestives, shortbread, chocolate fingers, Hobnobs, Custard Creams and Jaffa Cakes.

3. Cadbury chocolate

Many countries including Switzerland, the Netherlands and United States make chocolate but there is something extra special about a bar of Cadbury chocolate. The UK is the 5th most chocolate-loving country in the world, so it is not surprising that a big ‘miss’ for many English expats is Cadbury chocolate.

In 1824, shop owner John Cadbury started producing his own drinking chocolate and cocoa. They proved so popular that he and his sons bought a factory and in 1905 made their first bars of chocolate – famously using a glass and a half of creamy milk for each bar. By 1920, Cadbury chocolate was the best-selling chocolate in the UK.

Since then, Cadbury has become a household name with an impressive range of chocolates with both plain and milk varieties, plus bars with added fruit, nuts and caramel. Everyone has a favorite Cadbury chocolate, and finding none for sale in the country where you have settled can be more than disappointing. The first Easter abroad without a Cadbury Cream Egg can be heartbreaking.

4. Baked beans

Although originally American, Heinz Baked Beans have become a much-loved institution in the UK where two million cans of baked beans are eaten every day. The Heinz factory in Wigan, England is the largest baked bean producer in the world. 

If you are missing your speedy meal of baked beans, a really good hunt along the shelves of your nearest large supermarket might just reveal a limited number of cans in the ‘foreign food aisle’. This will sure make you highly delighted until you see the price which is bound to be scarily high.

Even if you do manage to find a can of your beloved Heinz baked beans, there are two other important points to note that will probably only add to your home-sickness. It is unlikely you will be able to buy your favorite English bread for the buttered toast for your baked beans to sit on. Moreover, everyone knows baked beans taste best sprinkled with English Cheddar – which in many foreign countries is scarcer than gold!    

5. Bacon

Finding some tasty bacon for a good old English fry up can be quite difficult, as the bacon found in other countries is usually very different. English bacon is usually thicker and juicier with an excellent taste as it is cut from pork loin.

Many countries sell American-style bacon which is usually streaky bacon cut from belly pork which becomes very crispy and smoky when cooked.

6. Marmite

Marmite has found its way ino the English language with the phrase a ‘Marmite moment’. This phrase means that you either love or hate something, which is exactly what people feel about Marmite.

This popular yeasty spread has been around for more than 100 years and spread on hot, buttered toast really is a popular comfort food. Marmite was first made in Burton-on-Trent using leftovers from the brewing industry.

Thick and shiny, this dark brown spread is extremely nutritious and can be added to gravies to give them extra flavour. It is also used in England as a glaze for roast meats. Unfortunately, finding the jars with their distinctive red, white and gold labels on a foreign supermarket shelf can be tricky.

7. Cheddar cheese

Although Cheddar cheese is much beloved in the UK, it is not quite so easy to track down when living abroad. The explanation is quite logical, because countries like France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands all have an amazing selection of their own cheeses. Even smaller countries like Switzerland and Cyprus have a handful of really excellent cheeses including increasingly popular Cypriot Halloumi.

The trouble is that the taste of mature Cheddar grated on a toast or popped into a jacket potato is really hard to beat, So, not surprisingly, cheddar is one of the tastes from the UK that is well-missed.

8. Branston pickle

Another much-loved taste that comes to mind when reminiscing about good Cheddar cheese is of course, Branston Pickle. This delicious sweet and spicy chutney is made from an assortment of chopped vegetables in a sauce of tomato, apple and spices.

Branston Pickle was first made in 1922 in the village of Branston, which is not far from Burton on Trent. Since then it has been enjoyed by millions across the UK as the perfect extra in a Cheddar cheese sandwich or part of a traditional Ploughman’s lunch.

9. Crumpets

The humble crumpet is one of the comfort English foods most missed when people move away from the UK. Because of its unique savory taste the British are used to enjoy at breakfast or as a snack, nothing else can replace it.

Crumpets were originally made in Wales and cooked on a griddle rather than in a bread oven. When they were first made, they resembled hard pancakes. Later, the Victorians decided to add yeast to the recipe and the soft, spongy modern crumpet we know and love was born! What better than a warm crumpet topped with melting butter to enjoy on a winter’s evening?

10. Irn-Bru

Surprisingly, this bright orange colored carbonated drink with its distinctive and quite unique flavor, is sorely missed by many Brits when they head to foreign lands.

Irn-Brun was created in Scotland in 1899 and is very popular with the Scots. In fact, some say it rivals whisky as the national drink. Certainly, it is the most popular soft drink in Scotland and also the third most popular in the UK after Coca-Cola and Pepsi. 

Where to buy English foods when living abroad

If you do find that you are missing the taste of these great products from the UK, there is a solution to the problem! There are a number of companies that offer a delivery service straight to your door. 

They feature a wide range of different English food products on their websites and these include seasonal specials. Here are our favorites; 

British Essentials
British Corner Shop
British Gift Box

Alternatively, in some countries where there are large communities of British residents, such as the Dordogne in France, Paphos in Cyprus and the city of Athens, there are speciality shops stocking the most missed English foods and more.                  


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