English Food

I had this idea that it would be nice to make Miss Pearl some English food the other day and so I headed off to the international section of the grocery store. And now I know what’s wrong with the so-called ‘Special Relationship’.

For my British readers, I have to tell you it is pretty embarrassing. All across America, shoppers are pausing briefly at your food section and thinking: ‘YUK’! Here’s a summary of what they think you live on:

Paxo Sage and Onion Stuffing Mix
John West Kipper Fillets in Sunflower Oil
HP Sauce
Salad Cream
Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup
Bird’s Custard Powder
Bisto Gravy Granules

Commentators on the BBC have got it wrong. The Foreign Office is mistaken. The dons of Oxbridge don’t have a clue. The problem with US-UK relations doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that you build a raft and call it an ‘air craft carrier’ or that you have been reduced to collaborating with the French Army. We know that you have funny accents and no written constitution, that the heir to your throne is still living in the eighteenth century, and that you can’t heat your homes adequately even though it rarely drops below freezing. Never mind all that. Americans just have a problem respecting a nation that thinks baked beans on toast constitutes an acceptable supper dish.

So, in the spirit of the Transatlantic Alliance, I am going to try to help out my American readers. God help me, because Miss Pearl might never have the courage to eat a meal with me again.

Heinz baked beans are the staple item of every British pantry. You can try getting another brand but the kids will know the difference. Heat them up and pour them on top of plain white toast after a long day at work and, ta-da, dinner is ready. At the weekend, baked beans are a staple breakfast food. Yes, you heard me, breakfast food. A cooked breakfast, or ‘fry up’ consists of fried eggs, thick non-streaky bacon, bland sausages, half a medium tomato fried in grease from the bacon, bread fried in the same with extra oil, and baked beans. You can add black pudding (sausage made out of curdled pig’s blood) and fried mushrooms if you want to get fancy.  Yum!

Ok, working from left to right: 1. original HP sauce is what you have with your fry-up instead of Ketchup. 2. No one I have ever met has ever tried fruity HP sauce. 3. Salad Cream is a sort of runny sweet cloying mayonnaise that you pour on a salad made of limp iceberg lettuce with a slice of grainy unripe tomato and a couple of slices of cucumber. 4. Sarson’s vinegar is for chips (french fries). 5. Branston pickle is only ever used  to make sandwiches with sliced sharp cheddar cheese. That’s it, just cheese and pickle on bread, but it is better than it sounds. The ‘small chunks’ version on the left is easier to spread.

1. Don’t even consider trying the Ambrosia creamed rice. 2. Bisto gravy granules make an instant gravy for whatever roast meat you throw in the oven on Sunday when you are still trying to digest the fry-up. It comes in different flavours and the red one here is meant for beef. You can just about get away with using Bisto if you add plenty of red wine and pan juices. 3. Birds custard powder makes an instant custard that you can put in a jug and pour on top of cake or fruit compote, but its primary use is to make a trifle, which consists of stale cake, cut up fruit, jello (yes, really) whipped cream, and instant custard, with sprinkles on top. The kids will love it, and your guests will be so plastered by dessert that they won’t know any better. 4. The curry sauces are not here by accident: most British citizens gave up on their own food a long time ago and eat this instead. I actually made Junior a pretty decent chicken jalfrezi last night using the one on the left.

Smarties are like m&ms but with Cadbury’s chocolate instead of Hersheys and the colors are different.

1. You can’t really go wrong with the Rich Tea biscuits, provided that you eat them with the PG tips tea on the bottom right. Remember that you must only drink the tea with milk and sugar, never lemon. You also have to have the biscuits and tea on hand at all times in case you need a plumber or an electrician, because they need to take  thirty minutes to have tea and biscuits before they will consider repairing anything in your house. In my personal experience, however, you get better service if you use the chocolate covered digestive biscuits over there on the far right. 2. The three flavors of Robinson’s and the Ribena are what English people call ‘squash’, which you are supposed to dilute to taste and put in your child’s sippy cup so that their teeth will rot. 3. The three drinks on the lower right beginning with the IRN BRU are made for Scottish people to drink in the morning so that they can go to work hungover.


© Copyright 2011, Southern Dysfunction



Filed under Food

16 responses to “English Food

  1. junior

    I’d just like to point out that in England, our American food section consists of pop tarts, pickled pigs feet, packets of instant-grits, and ‘American cheese singles’ slices. still, if you think that’s bad; in Afghanistan the American food section consists of nothing more than 20kg bags of rice.

  2. Loved this! I ate a lot of fried chicken in England, not that I’m crazy about fried chicken–everything else was just kind of scary (especially that rancidy bacon). What I kept wondering about while reading this was what kind of looks you got while you were snapping photos of the canned goods in the supermarket??

    • Well to be honest, although in the touristy places you can still get terrible food over there, on the whole it has gotten pretty good in the past twenty years. It just hasn’t changed in my grocery store! By the way, no one batted an eyelid… I find that you can get away with almost anything once you are middle aged and a few pounds overweight…

  3. There is a pub I go to that has the best hamburgers and I put HP sauce on mine. I love it!

  4. roger w

    the question is will HWJ be allowed back in UK

  5. roger w

    question is HWJ be allowed back into UK and why should she,limemeis
    only usally only discusse the groaty weather

  6. teeshirtking

    i think ex uk pats might be missing,Fray Bentos-Tinned Steak&Pies,steak &
    kindney pudding,Gently minced beef&onion pie,Meatballs Tomsec,Smooth
    chicken and mushroom pies, and any chippy on site favorite-The nations
    chicken&mushroom flovour Pot noodle and to finish the day a Allday
    Breakfast in 39gramm tin.All washed down with Welks to go with Fizzy
    American Guiness followed by Tripe&onions finished off with Peas pudding
    & Faggots . The uk needs to export,any request taken to fill the containers.

  7. roger w

    dateline 1st april, on strength the possible lifting of 21year ban on
    haggis in to the USA,Macdonalds may sell genuine Scots Haggis with Neeps
    & Tatties so that Amercians can appeciate the full range of united kingdom

    • I am trying to imagine how Haggis would go down at my local McD’s, Roger, but I just can’t get my head around it! Getting ready to start blogging about England and Calamity Jane, now that I am due to return in about 10 days!

  8. roger w

    late update to dateline 1st april, a spokeperson said if the launch happpened
    on 25th january, autographed photos of Rabi Burns would be handed out.

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