Friday, 14 September 2012

Five foods I eat less frequently since moving to the USA

After doing a list of things I eat more often since moving to this corner of Pennsylvania, I thought it only fair to do a short list of things I don't eat so much anymore.

1. Fruit squash
This is the single food item from the UK I miss the most, and it's hard to explain to Americans: It's not a juice, not a cordial, and definitely not like that artificially neon-flavored Kool Aid. I grew up with Robinson's Fruit Squash (Ribena is okay too, but pricier) and I sometimes wondered when I would ever grow out of it. I never did.

To replace the disappointment of no longer being able to flavor my water with a concentrated fruit-based drink, sometimes my corn-fed American catches me diluting Tropicana or Ocean Spray: One part juice, four parts water. He is suitably disgusted, but I still refuse to pay the expat import prices for a small bottle of Robinson's. One day I'll crack though. I know I will.
2. Muesli
In my poor student days I'd buy an economy bumper pack of cheap muesli from Lidl and top it up with mixed fruit and nuts to make it seem like more esteemed brands of muesli. The US actually does okay for cereals, if you ignore Lucky Charms, Cartoon theme sugar-crusted breakfast boxes and the multi-colored muesli (ie, the stuff with sweetened fruits and nut pieces). But I like my muesli bland and hard to chew, not sweet and enjoyable. Shredded Wheat is the blandest thing I can find here.

UK expat in USA misses curry!
My faux Masala, and Homemade Naan recipe from LOTS a fellow Brit-USA expat
3. Curry
And talking about 'the blandest thing on the menu' the American curries I've had are not on par with anything I've had in the UK. I did once visit a tasty Indian restaurant in the Greater DC area of Virginia, but our local curry buffet doubled as a cheap Pizza shop. And then it shut down.

Chinese food is somewhat better in the US. The sushi, Vietnamese and Korean food is fantastic. Even out here in the country we're not far from a great selection of North Asian cuisine. This is kind of common knowledge though, and reflects the respective histories of the UK and US, and their immigrant cultures. 

I guess it's a fair trade-off, but every now and then I get a hankering for great Peshwari Naan or Aloo Saag. I make a pretty poor Tikka Masala, if judging by authenticity, but Tikka Masala is a made up British Indian dish anyway. Paired with a jar of Lime Pickle from the Indian aisle of the local supermarket, my faux Masala makes for an acceptable substitute for my old Saturday night take away. 

I find it amusing and fitting that the Indian section of our local supermarket is right next to the British section.

4. Lamb
As I said before, America is cow country. BBC's Mind the Gap got it right: Where are all the sheep?
I moved straight from the hills of midland Scotland to this rural space of the USA and I miss seeing the lambs frolicking along the fields.

It's also been a while since I had a real shepherd's pie. I was firm in informing my American family that shepherd's pie is lamb, cottage pie is beef.  A shepherd doesn't herd cows,  so beef pie just ain't the same. Desperate Dan would probably disagree.

Sheep Isle of Lewis
Lambs in Scotland - they're everywhere (pics from Spring 2012)
5. Candy
My husband heartily disagrees with me on this one because on my arrival to the US he greeted me with a pound bag of Jelly Bellies and I ate them in less than a week, and when we saw the Dark Knight I insisted on getting a giant pic n' mix  to munch through the movie. Yeah, so I have a sweet tooth. So what?

But with all the cake n' cookie baking we've done lately I just haven't had the room for candy in my life. Also, again US candy is made with corn syrup rather than actual sugar - so it's less sweet, less natural tasting, less flavorful than British candy. Sometimes I do get a hankering for Twizzlers, and then quickly remember how much I don't like them. I'm not the only Brit who has a problem with American confectionery either.

All things considered, and on balance, my diet is no better or worse now than when I lived in the UK. American food gets a bad rap (and definitely did in some of the comments on my past post) but it's not as bad as all that. I promise to try to convince you…but to square it out I'll also show you some of the amazing processed/junk foods you can get in the USA. Some of it is really special.


  1. Come visit in the south and have some real southern food! I grew up eating locally-raised beef and chicken and eating veggies fresh from the garden or canned. Nothing quite like a good ole' southern "soul food" dish!

    1. I can't wait until I can go to the South for proper soul food! I'd do a soul food tour of America if someone else was willing to pay. Seriously.

  2. Two words: Milk Duds. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

    1. I'd take anything Cadbury's over Milk Duds any day!

  3. Ooo I'm glad you tried the naan recipe - looks like it turned out okay?! The curry thing got at me too after moving which is probably why I took to making my own. Well the Indian style curry at least. Indian restaurants seem rather limited although there is one good on kinda near us in Ferndale. But as for the rest it's much more Thai based when it comes to curry restaurants around us and man some of them are spicy! Certainly tastey though. I miss biscuits like bourbons and digestives - you can't get a good biscuit.

    1. Yes, husbandito made the naan and it turned out great. He also tried to make poppadoms but they weren't as successful.

      And definitely about the biscuits. Bourbons over Oreos!

  4. i think the first two are a little harder to find here in the US - and i don't find lamb all too often either! i'd be curious as to what you started eating more too!

    and on places to visit in PA - hershey is kind of adorable too - and there are lots of great art musuems in pittsburgh. i'm from ohio, but i live in PA now

    <3 katherine
    of corgis and cocktails

    1. Hey, here's my list of what I eat more now in the USA: Basically it's beef and corn ;)

  5. Have you tried the Kashi brand of meusli/cereals? They are much harder and tend not to have sugar and sweeteners in them. They are a little pricey but they may be more along the lines of what you're looking for. (Says the American who's never been to the UK. :D) I think Target stores also sell a Bare Natural (or something like that) brand that may also be sugarless. You could also try the natural food stores. They all tend to sell more natural, non-sugar loaded products.

    1. Oooh, thanks for the suggestions! I do like my bland cereals ;)