The British Cookbook Review

The British Cookbook Review
By The Cooking World, Editorial Staff
October 3, 2022

The British Cookbook: authentic home cooking recipes from England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland

After a trip through Mexico in our last review, today we decided to take you on another trip, but this time through Britain with The British Cookbook.

The British Cookbook is the latest publication from Phaidon devoted to a specific culinary region of the world. From sitting at the local cafe for a full-English breakfast, to the anticipation of sitting down to a Sunday roast; the delight of fish and chips on the harbourside; hot cross buns at Easter and coronation chicken sandwiches in summer, and delicious cakes, bakes and puddings enjoyed all year round.

A Culinary Tour of the United Kingdom

In The British Cookbook, Ben Mervis, the respected food historian, researcher, and writer, tells the story of British food through 550 home-cooking recipes. Tasty, diverse, and inextricably linked to its roots, British cuisine is steeped in history and is a varied as the landscape to which it belongs.

The book is the culmination of several years of research by Ben, an American who arrived in the UK as a student and remains enamored with British food – its rituals, history, and the myriad stories surrounding the dishes.

For a long time, British food has been overlooked and often derided. Yet, in recent years there has been something of a revival, a new-found pride in this interesting, innovative, and diverse cuisine. Part home-cooking bible, part visual and cultural tour of the UK, The British Cookbook brings together the vast range of dishes – new and old – encompassed in this wonderful cuisine.

Readers are invited on a culinary tour of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, with dishes from the various regions and counties. For this book, Ben consulted several food writers, chefs, bakers, and home cooks for recipes, dishes, and stories which have all been curated and presented by the author. The book records the stories behind beloved British dishes, the origins of their names, and the rich and varied history that links them all.

Full Breakfast. Photography by Sam Harris (p. 27)

From Well-Known Favorites to Lesser-known Regional Specialties

The British Cookbook is organized following traditional ingredients and dishes with introductive texts. Chapters include Soups and Stews, Eggs and Dairy, Griddle Cakes and Bread, and Puddings and Pies, to name a few.

The recipes are fascinating to read and easy to follow, with lively descriptions of each dish's origins; clear user-friendly instructions; and helpful notes on unique ingredients and techniques. Each recipe has icons indicating whether dishes are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, can be prepared in 30 minutes or less, and use five or fewer ingredients.

The dishes appear alongside stunning food images and beautiful landscapes of the countryside of the UK by photographer Sam Harris. The book's design reflects the very essence of British culture and perfectly complements the dishes inside.

The British Cookbook features numerous well-known favorites such as Lancashire Hotpot, and Roast beef and lesser-known regional specialties such as Welsh cheese pudding, Scottish clapshot, and Northern Irish treacle bread. Ben has unearthed the dishes steeped in history: junket, haggis, and others which were originally created abroad and then adapted to local tastes and adopted into the canon of British cooking.

Battered Fish and Chips. Photography by Sam Harris (p. 113)

Final Thoughts

Part cookbook, part cultural history, The British Cookbook is the definitive collection of British food. Throughout the book, Ben guides you on a fascinating and mouth-watering culinary tour, exploring an exciting and diverse cuisine characterized by its ingredients and flavors.

For us, The British Cookbook is one of the best books in this series devoted to a specific culinary region of the world. Besides offering a fascinating read, and a set of delicious recipes, this book demystifies British cuisine, showing everyone how diverse and exciting this cuisine can be.

If you are one of those people that only associate British food with fish and chips, this book will blow your mind.


In The British Cookbook, Ben Mervis takes readers on a mouth-watering culinary tour across Britain, revealing a cuisine as diverse as the landscape from which it originates.









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