A spoonful of sugar

Some of the traditions that America has are completely different than those in the UK. Like stopping an important sports game two thirds of the way through for the singing of the national anthem. Or, indeed, knowing all the words to the national anthem in the first place. Some things are exactly the same; ‘a willingness to invade countries without succumbing to a burden of proof’ springs immediately to mind. But then – and I say this with due deference to my adopted homeland, and from a true position of love – some things America does exactly like Britain, only a bit worse.

There’s bacon, obviously – a meat product in the UK, but a saturated fat transportation device in the United States. Then there’s the rail system, which for all its British faults, at least calls at practically all towns that contain more than two men and a dog. And of course there’s the language which England invented, and which some Americans continue to devalue on an almost daily basis.

Not to say that America doesn’t do plenty of things better than Britain. I don’t think I’ll ever eat a burger anywhere else on earth again, having tasted the kind of heaven-in-a-bun that even the most average restaurant churns out. American festivals and celebrations make Britain’s look like something that was put together with money found down the back of the sofa. I still shudder with fear whenever I think about the fact that London has to put on an opening ceremony for the Olympics in 2012. And of course, the United States does bank collapses like no other country on earth; everywhere’s given it a go, but America truly has it down to a fine art.

Most of the time, you come to live with the differences between one place and the other. But at other times, it’s almost more than you can bear.

Still smarting from the lack of a four day weekend, I decided to buy some hot cross buns to cheer myself up. After all, what could be better than a spicy hot toasted bun packed full of raisins, slathered with butter that oozes into every inch of its doughy goodness? My mouth is watering at the mere thought of it.

Sadly, thinking about it is all I can do. Because America has gone and arsed up one of the best things about Easter*. For a start, the bun has the consistency of a heavy pannetone, rather than the kind of weighty denseness necessary to guarantee that it sticks to the roof of your mouth. Rather than boasting a reassuring flatness, the American hot cross bun seems to be approximately four inches high, contains candied lemon peel rather than raisins, and has all the moisture of an overworn flip-flop. And to be honest, I’d probably rather eat the flip-flop.

Most importantly though, where the cross on top of the bun (the very thing that gives the baked good its theoretical religious significance) is made of pastry in the UK, it’s made of icing in the US. Thick sticky and sickly white icing that removes the enamel from your teeth, and which leaves you gasping for water. As if you’d eaten a flip-flop, to be honest. With icing on top.

The fact is that if Americans get a chance to add sugar to something, they’ll take it. Whether it’s cereal or hair product, they’ll find some way to get the stuff in there somehow. By 2019, the average 35 year old American body will be made of 63% sugar. Please note that any remarks about licking each other like lollipops will be expunged from the comments.

* The others are Creme Eggs, and ‘moaning about Brits having a four day weekend’.

8 thoughts on “A spoonful of sugar

  1. Alasdair

    Dylan – is there no sorta hispanic/armenian/greek/ethnic bakery anywhere near you ?

    I’ve found the baking style for the hot-cross-buns there … now, the bun may lack some of the sweet spicing that m akes it a “hot” cross bun, but at least it’s not the icing variant …

    Or perhaps teach the rugrat(s) how to bake ’em ? They’re not that difficult to bake … and once you have the recipé perfected, you can take hot mogen david buns to Passover at jewish friends’ Seders … (if they are unOrthodox Jews) … if they are Orthodox Jews, you would have to take hot mogen david matzohs …

  2. Noble Savage

    Disagree with you on the bacon but that’s par for the course. Every Brit I know hates American bacon and vice versa. I like my bacon crispy and smoked, not rubbery and flaccid. My husband and I have taken to the ‘separate but equal’ mantra and buy our own. No more bacon battles over breakfast now.

    You’re right about the lack of good hot cross buns and a long Easter weekend in America though…both are shameful.

  3. Iota

    Yes, sugar sugar sugar everywhere. Hard to take the moral high ground, though, when you think that it was Cadbury’s that invented the creme egg.

  4. Michael Harling

    Hot cross buns? In the States? At least you found some; I never even saw one until I moved to England.

    And you’re right, the bacon here is much better 😉

  5. Alasdair

    Hey – the best British bacon is Danish, anyway ! (grin)

    Just like the best American bacon is “Canadian Bacon” !

  6. Lo,TG

    I was soooo frightened by the [rapidly approaching – will all the venues ever be finished, cripes] prospect of the 2012 Games opener, that I went behind the sofa as soon as I heard we’d got it, and I’m not coming out ’til 2013.

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