Hi, My name is Cocoa. I love food. The only reason that I exercise is to make room for more food. I live to eat. I’ve moved to England and now I am grieving.
Since I’ve been in England I have subconsciously made lists of things that I miss the most about the good ole USA. I call this the typical “expat grieving process”. Sadly it is mostly centered around food, not being able to find the food that I want, and nearly having a breakdown in the supermarket when (insert baby tantrum here) ALL I WANT IS RANCH DRESSING! Now, don’t get me wrong, I miss my family and friends, they are number one on my list but coming in a VERY close second place is FOOD.
In the beginning I was in DENIAL, also known as Step1. I would tell myself, “This can’t be real life”. In total disbelief and shock. One of the luxuries of living in America is having an abundance of over-sized SUPERmarkets that are lined with choice after choice of what we call the simple things, the additions, the toppings. Things that you would assume you could find in ANY supermarket around the world.
Yes, I’m talking condiments. Who would think that something as little and simple as condiments would nearly cause me to erupt in a manner that I almost cause an international incident on aisle 6? I am livid to say the least! What do you mean there is NO RANCH DRESSING? This had to be a fluke. This isn’t happening. I went to several grocers and even to the local outdoor market and couldn’t find ANYTHING that resembled Ranch Dressing.
As I get home from a pointless walk to the supermarket I was in need of an immediate intervention! Enter, my better half, my voice of reason, my knight in shining armor, “P”. I tell him that I can’t find Ranch Dressing and he walks to the fridge and my face instantly lights up! Did we have some all along?! He pulls out a bottle and hands it to me.
Aww heck no! Is this some kind of joke? It’s about to be a fight in here! What on earth is SALAD CREAM????
Needless to say, I quickly entered into Step 2: ANGER . (No need for details just know that my smile was upside down)
Step 3: Bargaining. Ok, maybe I will try it out. Maybe it’s not that bad. WRONG. This stuff is nothing more than glorified, repackaged, renamed, Miracle Whip. Seriously, it’s Miracle Whip. Would you put Miracle Whip on your lovely leafy salad? NO.
Step 4: Depression. Woe is me. I’m a precious American living abroad and there is nothing more important going on in the world aside from my food issues. Do you hear my cry? No one is listening.
Step 5: Acceptance- This is where I am at this moment. After my meltdown I have decided to take matters into my own hands, literally. Out of pure desperation and to save myself the time of hunting down the simple things I have now become the Queen of Condiments. I just make my own.
**I NEVER use a proper recipe/measurements. I make everything to taste**
Ranch Dressing Ingredients
A few squirts of fresh lemon
A dollop of sour cream (Soured Cream for those in the U.K.)
A few dollops of mayonnaise (yes mayo is a big thing here)
A pinch of salt
A pinch of black pepper
Sprinkle in some dried parsley (and any other herb that you like)
Turned out pretty good. My husband loved it and he is even more of a foodie than I am.
In all fairness I will say that after all of this my hubby was able to find one grocer that carries Ranch Dressing. Not to risk taking a step back in my bereavement I will just continue to make my own.
You may think, “All of this over Ranch Dressing?” No. I am a bit more rational than that! Here are a few examples of other food related disappointments:
Chocolate Chocolate Cake (This isn’t the disappointment, what is being done to it is the let down)
This was a delicious slice of cake with smooth chocolate icing. Apparently smothering it in Double Cream is all the rage. I tried it just to find out that Double Cream is code for Heavy Whipping Cream! Yuck! Who does that?
Pie, Mash, Liquor and Eels (Yes, EELS)
Yes people, those are EELS! As “P” and I were taking a stroll through the neighborhood he pointed out A. Cooke’s Traditional Pie, Mash & Eel shop. He explained that Eel and Pie shops were popular in the 1800’s because it gave poor and working families an affordable, hot meal option. It’s not a shocker to see an old building with it’s original signage up around here so I’m thinking that for sure they aren’t selling this meal in this day and age. WRONG AGAIN. I took a peep through the window and I see a simple menu hanging and yes, it was advertising Pie (Pastry), Eels, Mash (mash potatoes), and Liquor(a parsley gravy). The eels come jellied or stewed. Yum. I haven’t tried it because I am vegetarian but if you are ever in London look this place up. If it’s lasted this long it must be good! http://cookespieandmash.com/
Beans on Toast (Self explanatory)
Ok, like many people, I grew up eating baked beans. I’m not knocking it completely because it is a good “comfort food” but on a restaurant menu??? Now they are just taking advantage of hungry people.
Hot Dogs in a JAR??
I found this American classic in the “World Foods” section, on the shelf with a few other varieties. Everyone knows that hot dogs are sort of an acceptable form of mystery meat but to put it in a jar makes it seem like a down right science project! In many locations throughout England you can get them packaged in a jar OR can!
Spotted Dick! (uh….ok)
Spotted Dick….sounds appetizing right? Well, don’t be taken aback if you see it on a menu around these parts. Spotted Dick is a traditional English pudding that contains dried fruit (typically currants or raisins). You can find this on the dessert menu at a restaurant or in your local grocer in a can. Outside of it’s name, I actually tried it and it wasn’t bad at all. It is not of the consistency of what we call pudding in America. It’s rather spongy like a muffin filled with fruit with subtle hints of cinnamon. I will certainly have this again. Don’t tell anyone but I can see myself as a “closet” Spotted Dick lover, that is, until I can get over the embarrassment of ordering it from a waiter!
It would be totally unfair of my inner food critic to only address my “less than great” food experiences in the UK. Look out for food and restaurant reviews coming soon!
Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch” ~Orson Wells