Monday, March 16, 2015

Cream Cakes and Brussel Sprouts

I spend way too much time at the grocery store.  Luckily our local store is pretty awesome.  Free cookies for the kids, lots of food samples, great bakery & food choices, a British section, and lots of lovely people who work there - two of whom are now my friends.  Because I go there a lot, I'm now so used to the American way that I'll probably be a hot mess when I go to the supermarket (UK speak for grocery store) in the summer.  See, even the name of the place is different!  In fact, the whole grocery shopping experience here is completely different from back home.  While at home I'd say "I'm going to get my messages", here it's "I'm going grocery shopping". 

A good thing about American stores is that you never have to search your handbag for a coin or token in order to unlock a cart (known as a trolley in the UK).  Here, carts are plentiful and easy to access. I'm a bit stressed right now due to our impending move, and believe me, I would KILL for a proper cream cake.  Brits, can you believe there's no such thing here?  How can people live without cream cakes?  We have shelves of the things at home, all light and fluffy, with delicious fresh cream fillings and toppings.  The cream here is overly sweet and just not really used very often in cakes for some reason.  If you asked for a meringue at the bakery here, they would laugh.  Meringues here are tiny little processed powdery things in a plastic container.  At home, they are huge, fresh, crunchy, chewy and filled with delicious fresh cream.  I've been dreaming about fresh cream doughnuts for the last few weeks too.  No such thing here.

It took me a while to get used to the different names used in the USA for everyday grocery items too.  Coriander is cilantro, aubergines are eggplant, rocket is arugula, courgettes are zucchini and spring onions are green onions.  To this day, I still find it embarrassing to say "URBS" instead of the British "HERBS".  If I said that at home, I'd be laughed out of the shop.  I've said this before, but I also can't get used to is calling pasta "noodles".  Noodles are in the Chinese section for goodness' sake!  Pasta is Italian, and it's called PASTA!  Our syrups are totally different too.  When you say syrup here, it's assumed you mean Mrs Butterworth's or Aunt Jemima's, a dark concoction found in a plastic jug that you pour on your pancakes or waffles.  Ha, we have potato waffles at home, I'm pretty sure Americans would gag at the thought of those!  Anyway, syrup to me is golden syrup.  It comes in a beautiful, heavy, silver and green can with a lid that is permanently sticky once opened.  It's golden, it's heaven on earth and mostly used for baking and making puddings, or if you're feeling really decadent, on a sandwich with butter.  But maybe that's just me!

Tate & Lyle golden syrup.  A British icon!

America isn't big on roast potatoes either.  We have them in the frozen cabinet at home, and they are almost as good as freshly made.  I'm not the best of cooks, so I would probably cry with joy if I saw frozen roast potatoes in the freezer here.   Squash?  If I asked for that here, I would be given a large orange fruit.  At home, squash is what we make drinks with, it's a juice concentrate we add water to.  I grew up drinking the stuff and sometimes I wish my kids could too.  Instant coffee?  That's considered slightly ghetto here.  It's either filter, Keurig or it's crap.  There's only a tiny space on the shelf for instant coffee, I almost feel like I'm being judged for buying it!   

The best thing about grocery shopping in the US is the lovely packer who will happily pack your groceries into bags and do a fantastic job.  No tip required.  They will even offer to bring your cart to your car and help you unload.  This makes me feel like a princess, even though I rarely do it because I'd rather struggle by myself than have to make small talk and watch somebody else do something I'm more than capable of! 

Anyway, we move out of the house next week so we're currently struggling to make meals with what's left in our pantry and refrigerator, making my grocery store trips less frequent.  Recent 'gourmet' meals in the LeBlanc household have included quesadillas with brussel sprouts, cereal for dinner, olives on toast, tuna from the can, shake n bake chicken with brussel sprouts, and rice with brussel sprouts - there sure were a lot of brussel sprouts in the freezer and my poor children are probably scarred for life.   To all my readers, whatever you're eating, I'm pretty sure it's way better than what's for dinner over here.  Anyone for brussel sprouts?   




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