Dinner With The Omnivore

But don’t you miss British food? Er ….. no, frankly.

Posted on: May 9, 2010

Or at least not the stuff you’re talking about, most of which is not actually food. I lose count of the number of times I’ve heard British resort staff  bemoan the lack of ‘proper bread’ (ie sliced polystyrene), ‘real bacon’ (pink spongy stuff which pours with water once in the pan) and Cheddar ‘cheese’ (by which they don’t mean decent farmhouse cheddar but those lumps of industrial cheeseoid you can buy in Tesco). For God’s sake people, you’re in France. It’s famous for bread and cheese, what are you talking about? But no, they carry on bribing coach drivers to bring them British ‘sausages’ and complaining that they’re tired of baguettes (having completely failed to spot the two dozen other types of bread on offer in every boulangerie). I despair.

French bread - not 'proper', apparently

Not that the paying public is much better. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that having forked over good money to travel abroad on holiday, people would want to make the most of the experience – eat things they can’t get at home, look out for local dishes, whatever. But no. Every major resort is littered with English bars offering over-priced Full English Breakfast made with the lowest quality ingredients. You wouldn’t dream of paying upwards of a tenner at home for budget sausages, watery bacon and frozen hash browns, so why on earth do you do it on holiday?

Long-term expats don’t seem to be a great deal better at surviving without weird semi-foods at stratospheric prices either, judging by the number of British gorcery shopping websites out there. Birds Dream Topping at nearly £5 for three sachets, tins of  ‘Celebrity Bacon Grill’ (don’t tell me, I don’t want to know), ready-to-eat orange jelly …. hideous.

So I’ve got some alarming news for everyone out there – people in other parts of the world do actually eat stuff. No, honestly, they really do. And it probably tastes a whole lot better than Crosse and Blackwell Hunger Break followed by Angel Delight and washed down with Maltesers Hot Chocolate Drink.

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8 Responses to "But don’t you miss British food? Er ….. no, frankly."

It was only the other day that I remembered the ‘British Food Aisle’ in the larger supermarkets in France. The number of people stood browsing these aisles never failed to amaze me. Why would you want a jar of picallili? Nobody eats the stuff at home, why would you put it on your sandwiches in France?

Likewise jelly cubes and that radioactive yellow custard powder. I mean ……. why??

I shall say nothing about ex-pats who demand their relatives transport industrial size jars of Marmite!

I should think not. Marmite is an exception, as any fule no!

How much is Marmite in France? I’m curious because out here in Hong Kong it’s about five pounds for a jar … which suggests there’s a fortune to be made, or at least a ticket paid for, by flying it over in one’s luggage.

It’s not just the Brits though: there’s a shop in Hong Kong catering to homesick Yanks, and the rubbish that’s sold there at inflated prices boggles the mind. I would recount it in detail, but last time I had to look at that much peanut butter I started to claw my own face off.

It’s about a fiver here as well, I think. The American stuff shelf in our supermarket here consists entirely of peanut butter, marshmallow and ready-made cookie dough. No wonder they’re all that shape.

I don’t miss much of anything, but I do buy golden syrup to make ginger snaps, Coleman’s mustard for a choice of oomph, Yorkshire Tea for obvious reasons, sausages especially the posh butcher ones – only Brat’s come close to the superb British banger – and salt ‘n’ vinegar crisps.

The boys love Cadbury’s Milk Chocolate drinking powder so I get that too.

I could live without all of it except a decent cuppa. When I’m out of Yorkshire Intermarche sells PG Tips.

I hold my hand up to importing Golden syrup, Marmite and the odd packet of suet – I could probably get suet if I tried, but I’d have to have a long conversation with the butcher, who would probably think I was mental. I think I may have to write something about the English and their floor-sweepings-and-hot-milk habit in due course.

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“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ― Orson Welles

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