today i'm going to talk a bit about British food, drink and condiments. i say "a bit" because the amount of stuff i could potentially write about is gigantic.
let me start off by saying that it is not my intention to give negative criticism to British food. i know that British food has a relatively poor reputation in some areas, but really all i'm focusing on is how some things differ from their American counterparts.
the first photo above is of condiment packets that came off a table in a restaurant where i had lunch today (clearly said restaurant has a contract with Heinz). i took a photo of the condiments in order to point out a few things: first, for you Americans, there's Heinz "Brown Sauce." i've been seeing bottles of this Brown Sauce in the grocery store near the ketchup and have been wondering exactly what the suspiciously obvious-named sauce is. "it's just Brown Sauce," my British partner says. "you put it on sausages, meats... you might have it on your bacon and eggs."
i was curious and skeptic about this Brown Sauce, so today i opened a packet and tasted it. and guess what. it tastes exactly like American BBQ sauce. it's brown in color (surprise.) and has the tangy-ness of an average, somewhat bland BBQ sauce. an American would not know the difference if it was slathered on their ribs or chicken, but still, this is not called BBQ sauce. it's just "Brown Sauce."
moving on to the next few interesting packets... let's talk about the one called "Salad Cream." this, too, i have wondered about in the grocery store. it's located next to the mayonnaise on the shelf. so, again, today i decided to taste some. and guess what: this Salad Cream is simply watery mayonnaise. it's not like Ranch dressing or Bleu Cheese dressing -- it's just watery mayo. and people here squeeze it onto their otherwise healthy green salads. yikes.
then there was Tartare Sauce and Mint Sauce. these are obviously in demand due to the slightly different meat-eating habits of the British. in Great Britain LAMB is a very popular meat. it's on pretty much every menu and there's a big lamb section in the meat aisle at every grocery store. this preponderance of lamb leads to packets of Mint Sauce being at every table -- something you probably wouldn't find in many American joints. the other obvious thing is that FISH is a lot more common in these parts, with Fish 'n' Chips being ubiquitous. this fish-filled nation requires bottles of Malt Vinegar on every table next to the standard salt and pepper, and Tartare Sauce for the fish -- hence the presence of yet another condiment packet.
Heinz must be making a killing.
one other thing to point out is the presence of two different types of mustard packets: "English Mustard" and "French Mustard." since i don't know the difference between the two i again tasted them for myself. it turns out that English Mustard is simply the bright yellow stuff we Americans call mustard. the French Mustard, upon opening the packet, promptly thumbed its nose at me, straightened its beret and lit a long-handled cigarette.
the French Mustard was light brown in color and tasted like what Americans would probably call Dijon mustard.
so today i saw nine of Heinz 57's sauces. more than i've ever seen. what the other 48 might be i have no idea. perhaps i'll move to the Pacific Rim someday and see if some of them are hanging out in a noodle shop or sushi bar.
the second photo above is obviously of cereal. the only reason i took it is because in England right next to the raisins they have an almost identical dried fruit called "sultanas." you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between sultanas and raisins in a blind taste test. they are so similar in fact that there is cereal here called "Sultana Bran" -- i'll take a leap and figure it tastes a lot like American Raisin Bran.
the third and final photo in today's entry is of some soda bottles i saw on the grocery store shelf. i thought i knew enough about the world to understand the basic flavors of soft drinks, but i was wrong. here we have the "Shandy" soda and the Dandelion and Burdock flavored soda.
it turns out that in this case Shandy is a carbonated soda of lemonade and beer mixed together. yes, i said BEER. after taking this photo i heard Shandy actually ordered in the aforementioned restaurant and eavesdropped as the lady ordering was asked if she'd like her Shandy with lager or bitter (two very different types of beer). sometimes Shandy has very little beer in it, and yes, kids drink it. in the restaurant scenario, however, the gal ordering it was ID-ed before she could have it.
i haven't had the pleasure of tasting Dandelion and Burdock soda yet, but i am told it's like cola with more after-taste. "a bit more cough-syrupy than cola, but in a nice way," to quote my British partner. i'm not sure about this description, but i'll check into it and let you know.
i think that's about all for today. i'll have to head back out to the store with my camera again before my next installment.