Thursday, October 28, 2010

Not in Kansas

We have a house guest staying in our flat.  He is a Czech professor from Prague and is here for the first month of his sabbatical.  Last night he was telling us about his two trips to America, both for conferences.  He stayed ten days in Kansas City, Kansas during his first trip to the states and was amazed by the perfusion of figurines, snow globes and other souvenirs depicting characters from the Wizard of Oz.  We tried to explain the idiom that has resulted from the famous movie: "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."  For example, I explained, when we first went to the grocery store here in Cambridge, I said that phrase to Courtney because the store was in many ways, very different from our stores at home.  I think it's about time to post my food pictures, all of which show foods that vary from American foods not in type, but in flavour** or character.  I hope you appreciate the differences as much as I have!   [**See the British coming out in me?]

First: Cheese!  Forget your typical yellow cheddar, this place is full of bonefide European cheeses!  In fact, yellow cheddar doesn't even exist here (though they have white cheddar for us Americans), nor does American, Monterey, Colby or Pepper Jack or processed blocks of mozzarella.  There is no special "European cheese" box near the deli.  You just buy your "fancy" cheeses in the dairy aisle across from the milk.  Thus far I have enjoyed Brie, Normandy Camembert and Edam:

I have had mixed reactions to my Camembert cheese.  Initially, I tried melted Camembert and french bread.  Because of the rind on the cheese and the wooden box, it is possible to bake the cheese and have the insides melt without melting the rind as well.  Then you can cut an x into the rind at top and dip bread and veggies into the ready-made fondue inside (thanks Lucy!). Yums maj!  :)   So, after my Brie ran out, I decided I wanted something a little stronger and bought myself a box of Camembert (that very cheese round shown above).  Unfortunately, I am only one person and can't eat a whole round of cheese very quickly.  Since Camembert continues to age, I found myself midweek with a box of very strong, very smelly cheese!  I ate as much as I could, but eventually had to throw the last, small portion out.  I think I learned my lesson: Camembert and other aging cheeses are perfect for parties but not so good for one.

Second: Crisps! (Okay, okay, I still haven't transfered my vocabulary from fries to chips and chips to crisps, but for this Kansas post I will try to act like an Ozian.)  Doritos do exist in Britain but potato crisps are far more popular.  I was comparing crisp flavours with a British friend one Sunday and I decided to label the five most popular potato chip flavours as follows: Classic, Sour Cream and Onion, Barbeque, Salt and Vinegar and Cheddar and Sour Cream.  She thought that some of the above (namely Sour Cream and Onion and Barbeque) sounded very strange.  I think, though, that British crisps are flavoured very strangely!  I am including a picture of a vending machine (carrying, presumably, the most popular flavours of crisps) here:

Top middle: Smoky Bacon

Left: Turkey and Stuffing (no joke)  Right:  Roast Chicken

Left to Right: Salt and Vinegar, Ready Salted, Cheese and Onion

Left:  Prawn Cocktail (no joke)

Third:  Candy!  Well, I couldn't buy all of the different kinds of candy bars sold here in the UK.  But I did buy a Mars bar with my bag of Turkey and Stuffing crisps (I should say, the crisps DID actually taste like turkey and stuffing.  It was amazing!).  A Mars bar is basically a Three Musketeers:

I also snuck a picture in the grocery store to illustrate the Kit Kat revolution occurring in the UK:

If you can't tell, this normal, smallish grocery store is selling (starting at the top left): Mint KitKats, Orange KitKats, Regular Milk Chocolate KitKats, Dark Chocolate KitKats and Caramel KitKats.  I've heard that if you are really lucky, you can also find Peanut Butter KitKats, which are the best (supposedly and believably).  In addition, you can pay a little extra and get "fancy" KitKats, which have pockets of hazelnut cream.  I will say that the extra pence are worth it!
Four: Yogurt! This category might hold my absolute favourite US vs UK flavour difference.  Before coming to the finale, though, I will first post a picture of one amazing yogurt that, as far as I know, doesn't exist in the US but should:

I owe this one to Hannah Bringhurst, who told me the day before I left that I would have to try it.  Now I'm hooked just like she promised.  But are you ready for the most bizarre flavour difference discovered as of yet?  Please see below:

I hope you appreciate the picture.  What you see above are four very normal, generic yogurt flavors found in any grocery store.  In case you can't read the labels, you are looking at rhubarb, cranberry, fig and PRUNE yogurts!  I would like to see Yoplait try and sell those flavours in the US!  But I can testify for myself that these flavours are (actually) really quite good.  I particularly like the rhubarb yogurt, but the others (including prune) are also very good.  I would try to bring some back for the adventurers among you, but sadly, I don't think they will last the flight there.  You will have to come visit me if you would like to try them.


Chelsea Cardoza said...

Mmmm Rhubarb Yogurt!!! Have you tried a Rhubarb Pie yet? They're delicious!
Sounds like you're having a great time over there. Keep up the posts, I really enjoy reading them.

Scott said...

I miss eating in Europe now, I love the food there. And Mars bars are amazing.

AreeAbroad said...

Awww Walker's crisps! I ate those all the time in my mini-UK (the military base I worked on). I love the Cheddar-Onion! I thought it was strange that refrigerating yogurt is optional in Europe. Though it is often sold and served cold, I had it served to me at room temperature most of the time. Interesting...

AreeAbroad said...

Note: The Quavers, located on the bottom right of your picture, are also quite good. Cheers!

Jonathon said...

Forget Thanksgiving dinner, I'm handing out chips instead!


annespud said...

Hey Amy this is Gail, and I have very much loved your blog. This last one was very fun! I have not been out of the US, so I am living through others, and these are the things I love to know about, what people eat, what their bathrooms, kitchens and bedrooms look like etc. Keep up the great information line! I will hope for the next 5 weeks to go quickly!

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