Lately in London… Reflecting on foods tasted around the world

Rosalita snacks on macaroons by the Eiffel Tower in France.

A big plus about studying abroad is all the different foods I get to try. Some are similar or identical to foods found in the U.S., but some are unlike anything I’ve ever eaten. Most countries also have a couple of dishes that they are known for and are basically a staple in taste-testing.
For example, France is known for its escargot (aka snails), Scotland has haggis, and Ireland — well, their Guinness of course. This makes it extra fun when visiting different countries, because as my friends and I like to say, we are taking our time “eating our way around the world.” Although we haven’t hit the bulk of our outside traveling yet, I do think I’ve gotten quite adventurous in my food choices.
To name a few country-dish pairings, I’ve tried razor clams, churros, duck, tapas, and even octopus in Spain. I’ve eaten baguettes, crepes, and macaroons in France; fries, waffles, and chocolate in Belgium; poffertjes, bitterballen and frikandellen in Amsterdam; and Irish stew and soda bread in Ireland.
However, I’ve found myself struggling to find a dish — at least according to locals — that is an English specialty. Most people I encounter tell me that England does not have anything for itself, but instead that it is a giant melting pot that takes the best of each country and puts its own spin on it.
I mean, try and think of a dish England is specifically known for. Fish and Chips, okay. Pies, sure. Scones, I’ll take it. Full English Breakfast, seems a bit obvious but on the right track. But every time I bring up one of these foods in conversation, I’m always told somewhere else does it better. The only definitive answer I’ve ever gotten is that England has the best Indian food Europe has ever seen. But if I had to decide on what I thought was the best English dish, or at least what England has done the best, I’d have to give it to their breakfast.
Despite my personal opinion, I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world and try so many different types of foods, but I’ve yet to find something that people see and immediately associate with England. I was told that the best fish and chips are near the coast of Ireland, or that the Scottish pies are to die for — which I didn’t get a chance to try while I was there. I’ve marked so many countries with so many dishes down, but I’m still waiting to find the “perfect English meal.” And until I do, I’m counting my Full English Breakfast.