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While the U.K. has undoubtedly embraced American food tastes and trends, with the introduction of TGIF and the like, the reciprocity has been a little slow. Indeed, I would go so far as saying that some British food tastes leave Americans scratching their heads.
Our use of Marmite
The most obvious example is Marmite; although not all Brits like it, in my 23 years here, I haven’t met a single American who didn’t want to spit it straight back out. As a colleague once said, “It’s like spreading lug nut oil on your bread.” Brits either love or hate Marmite. The quote at Buzzfeed’s British People Problems sums it up nicely, “My girlfriend claims she’s ‘neither here nor there’ on Marmite. Now I can’t trust anything she says or does.”
Meals on toast
And talking of spreading things on bread, what’s up with us putting everything on toast? The go-to light meal for many a Brit is beans, or eggs on toast, still not adopted here despite recent Anglophilic trends. Saddo that I am, I was thrilled to have found a gourmet-style book on the matter. “Things on Toast: Meals from the Grill – the best thing since Sliced Bread” takes this humble snack to a whole new level with recipes like Bloody Mary spiked tomatoes on toast and Carmalised Shallotts & Soft Cheese on toast. (Americans, the grill in this case is a broiler or toaster.)
Our offal obsession
What surely flummoxes Americans more than anything is our national taste for organs and intestinal delights? Celeb chef Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall says, “If it’s flavor you’re after, you can’t beat kidneys, or tongue, or liver, or brain …” Indeed, here’s his Offal Manifesto (a very interesting read for the squeamish or germ-phobic). The link also includes a tasty recipe for Devilled Kidneys on Toast, by the way.
Haggis, that infamous dish from Scotland about which Rabbie Burns penned his ode, is basically gussied up sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, served in the stomach, or more recently, in sausage casing. It too, can be eaten on toast.
Black or blood pudding (yum, yum)
That’s a sausage made with dried animal’s blood and “filler,” and yes, it’s a hard sell to most Americans. Last time I bought some, my half-British kids wouldn’t even try it. Let’s not forget faggots. No, Americans I haven’t gone totally un-PC; they are a favorite in some parts of the U.K. and basically little balls of pork heart and liver.
Despite their deliciousness, and the fact that it’s basically eggs and sausage, Scotch Eggs bemuse many Americans. Take a hard boiled egg, encase it in a ball of sausage meat, roll it in breadcrumbs and deep fry. What’s not to like? In my experience, it’s not that this tasty morsel disgusts Americans, it just begets the question “Why?”
How we hold a fork
Let’s face it, we turn a fairly efficient utensil into a complete joke when we prod at peas with downward facing tines. As my husband says, “It’s shaped like that for a reason; it’s like using the wrong side of a shovel.”
Do you have any food-related events you’d like to share?
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