Pancake day

If there’s one foodstuff that Americans always have a tendency to ask me about, it’s black pudding. Few people can actually comprehend that the British eat it, for a start. As I’ve said before, The Special One hates the idea of the stuff although if you ask me, it’s difficult to understand what problem people could possibly have with a tasty product made out of oats, fat and congealed pig blood.

Chatting with friends this evening, I was asked whether I missed any other foods from the UK. To be honest, it’s hard to miss anything that much when there’s really very little from Britain that you can’t lay your hands on over here. Admittedly you have to be prepared to pay three times as much for it, but when your cravings for ‘spotted dick in a tin’ get to be too much, $6.95 seems to be a price that’s well worth paying.

There were five foods that I could identify as being particularly British, and that are particularly missed by me during my American adventure. Sure, I always long for fish’n’chips or a good curry, but there are five things that my day-to-day life just wouldn’t be the same without:

1. Baked beans. Heinz baked beans, to be accurate. And don’t fob me off with the Heinz vegetarian beans that you can get over here – they’re a sickly sweet alternative that just doesn’t taste the same slathered on toast, let me tell you. And don’t even think of putting them alongside your sausage and chips.
2. HP Sauce. Or brown sauce to its friends, of which I am a particularly close member. What’s not to like about a liquid made out of malt vinegar, molasses, tamarinds and dates?
3. Walker’s crisps. Yeah yeah, you can get Frito Lays, and the packaging looks broadly the same and the taste isn’t completely different. But you can’t get cheese and onion crisps in most shops, and if you’re looking for a crisp buttypotato chip sandwich, then you need to look no further.
4. PG Tips. Don’t bother with Lipton tea bags. You may as well drink dust suspended in water.
5. Branston pickle. These are the two words most used in more than 200 days of A Brit Out Of Water. Enough said.

The strange thing is though, the longer you’re away from the UK, the more you long for products that you never thought you would miss. I’ve been having cravings all day today for Findus Crispy Pancakes (minced beef and onion flavour, obviously), despite the fact that the last time I had them, Thatcher was in power and I was suffering from a brief but embarrassing crush on Carol Decker from T’Pau. I can only assume that it’s yesterday’s talk of Mad Cow Disease.

Pot Noodles, Fruit Salad chews and Vimto all fall under the ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ category when it comes to British food. But if ever I become gripped by a latent desire to eat tripe, rest assured that you have my permission to shoot on sight.

6 thoughts on “Pancake day

  1. Nat

    Your list of foodstuffs is interesting as many appear on my “accept no substitutions” list. These are things which you notice the difference if you buy generic rather than brand name, and Heinz Baked Beans is top of that list!

    Interestingly I only spent two weeks in NYC eight years ago – but I still yearn for foodstuffs I discovered there which you can’t get easily in the UK; these being grape jelly, Hershey bars, root beer (although Dandelion and Burdock comes close) and Oreo Cookies (which happily Sainsbury’s now sell!).

  2. Flowers On A Friday

    Findus Crispy Pancakes! clasic.

    salt and vinegar crisps…actually pretty much just malt vinegar is what i miss the most. oh, and whilst i’m on it: chip shop chips….from the 1980s.

    i’m heading back to engerland in a week (only for three days though). shame you can’t take big bottles of liquids on flights anymore. 100ml of malt vinegar wouldn’t even last me a week!

  3. Jonathan Glazier

    Wow black pudding yum yum. I used to only really eat it early in the morning on location. There is nothing quite like standing in a field with such a diverse bunch as you find on a TV crew. oxbridge grads, salt of the earth sparkies, vegans and health nuts and chowing down on a nice slice of fried black pud.
    Great blog I’m only sorry it has taken me so long to find it.
    consider your self linked!

  4. Almost American

    I have a jar of Crosse & Blackwell Branston pickle in the fridge right now. The price label says $3.99, so I must have bought it in the US, but I have absolutely no recollection of when or where.

    We have a pretty good source of British foods around here. The local supermarket sells PG Tips tea bags, but they’re 3 times the price of Tetley’s British Blend, so I stick with that. MUCH better than Liptons’ rubbish!

    I miss blackcurrants. Blueberries are so flavourless in comparison. We can get blackcurrant jam, black currant juice and Ribena though, so I’m not totally deprived.

  5. Sarah

    I had Heinz Baked Beans on toast with a squirt of Worcestershire Sauce last night – Deeeelicious but sadly that was my last tin! I am out of PG Tips but have a trip to Amarillo in a fortnight when I can stock up on both at World Market

  6. Expatmum

    Wait – aren’t you in NY? Surely you can get most of that stuff there? I can get it in Chicago.
    We were just talking over at my blog about what we miss from the UK. Sadly, our conversation revolved around Pears soap and Dettol. How sad is that?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *