The British invasion

Some things are just inescapably British – ideas or products that you would just never think to see anywhere else in the world. Try to describe an Eccles cake to an American, for instance, and you’d probably see a wrinkling of features and a look of disgust reserved for farmyard smells and cat vomit. Dandelion and burdock is clearly one of the tastiest fizzy popssodas around, but that doesn’t mean it would make sense to a German. And while the likely identity of the the Christmas number one is debated in pubs and TV shows across the land, nobody else in the world cares what tops their chart on December 25th.

If there’s one country that’s peculiarly averse to all things British, it’s France. Government rations the amount of English language music that can be played on French radio, while there’s a constant war waged against the creeping Anglicisation of the language. Put simply, the French are a proud nation and would be perfectly happy to have nothing to do with the British if they could possibly avoid it.

Which makes the presence of this packet in a local supermarchegrocery store all the more surprising:

Fisherman's Friend

I can’t remember the last time I saw these things in the UK, let alone in a French supermarket. Menthol pastilles with more kick than an angry donkey, Fisherman’s Friend are British enough that you practically expect a rousing chorus of Land of Hope & Glory every time you open a packet. And now they’re in France. Next they’ll be eating Branston Pickle with their croque monsieurs, and salad cream with their fromage et jambon baguettes.

I was so shocked, I had to buy three packets. The Special One and The Young Ones won’t know what’s hit ’em, I can tell you.

6 thoughts on “The British invasion

  1. Expat Mum

    Oh god, my gran used to give them to me so I quickly learnt not to be ill/sick. They’ll clear the sinuses.

    Don’t forget to listen in tomorrow (5 Eastern, 6 Central) on BBC Radio Five Live. I’ll be debating the US versus the UK with Mike Harling from Postcards from Across the pond.

  2. gloria

    I love fisherman’s friend. I didn’t know they were a British thing. I’m from the US. I used to use these all the time, but come to think of it I haven’t had them for years. I’ll have to look for them next time I’m shopping.

  3. Esther

    Wow – the last time I saw those I was seven years old, sitting in church with my gran when she offered me one. I took it and popped it in my mouth, blissfully unaware of the fire about to ignite on tongue. You try staying quiet during a sermon while experiencing your first fisherman’s friend age seven. It was not a pretty sight!

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