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The U.K. is rightfully recognized for a number of cultural contributions. It’s no secret that food has never been one of them. Often the subject of ridicule, the country’s cuisine recently took another blow when U.S. ambassador Matthew Barzun declared that he had been served lamb and potato “180 times” in the past year. Adding insult to injury, he stated, “There are limits, and I have reached them.” But just why does British food routinely take such a beating?

There are, of course, the obvious reasons. The dishes most synonymous with the U.K. are, well, bleh. Yorkshire pudding. Shepherd’s pie. Steak and kidney pie. Bangers and mash. Stop us if you start salivating while reading this at your desk. We won’t hold our breath. Then there’s the whole, “What is the national dish of England?” debate. How about if we told you that it just might be your delivery order last night from the neighborhood Indian joint. Yes, Chicken Tikka Masala is the most common answer to this question.

On the other hand, we think that British food is often treated unfairly in the mainstream press. London is home to two – tied with San Sebastián for the most – of the world’s top 10 restaurants, according to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. A strong restaurant scene highlighting the cuisines of myriad cultures settling in Britain (case in point: Tikka Masala) can also be seen as a positive, while recent openings have highlighted a wave of new, pioneering British cuisine. And the fact remains that not much beats a plate of well-crisped fish and chips. Just because South Asian restaurants are popping up everywhere and the “fast casual” market is saturated with other cuisines in major U.S. cities, does not mean that Britain’s unfussy dishes with simple sauces should be overlooked, let alone mocked.

Read more about British cuisine on Food Republic: