Something different this week; while Toni is off trotting the globe, our guest poster -- British Daffodilly -- and I are embarking on a trip down culinary lane, to report on the five strangest things we have eaten as a result of moving abroad.
Thank you to Mike & Expat Mum for inviting me to post today.
The 5 Strangest things I have eaten in USA?
1. Artichokes: Who the heck invented this horrible bland, mushy veggie? Yuck. It just seems almost caveman-like picking the leaves off, popping them in melted butter & then (god forbid) sucking the stuff out of the leaf! It reminds me of a “Survivor bug-eating contest!”
2. Pretzels; In the UK they have Twiglets & they are always what are leftover from a cocktail party…the reason is that they taste like crap but are considered kind of posh. When I arrived in USA it was pretzel heaven. Everyone eats pretzels; they even serve them on the planes instead of peanuts. They come in every shape, size and either with or without salt. Now it took me a while to adapt to these however I have to say that covered in chocolate & jimmies (100’s & 1000’s) they are quite delicious. In fact a must as the salt & sweet flavor clash & give you that kind of “ahhh" feeling!
3. Eggplant Parmesan; Or aubergines fried in breadcrumbs & covered in a marinara sauce….why oh why would you do this let alone eat it? Throw the disgusting thing away!
4. Pickles: The Americans are pickle crazy. They come with every dish, sandwich and burger as a garnish where as the Brit’s would use a sprig of parsley. These are big dill cucumbers the size of a man's hand that are pickled. Everyone seems to make their own as it is a family tradition. I guess as I was brought up with Branston Pickle & Piccalilli I lead a sheltered pickle life. I cringe when I see toddlers clutching a pickled cucumber & chomping away on it….god only knows what their diapers are like!
5. Chinese Chow Mein: It took me 8 years of purchasing Chinese food in USA to find the correct equivalent to the English version of Chow Mein. A little history is needed here. Chow Mein in the UK is a noodle & meat or fish dish….very tasty. In America it is a pile of MSG that looks like the thickest nastiest pile of snot you can imagine. We traveled all over USA looking for our noodley Chow Mein & left many a restaurant from posh ones to grubby back street ones with empty bellies. It cost us a fortune. One night some American friends came over for dinner with some Chinese take out…we were flabbergasted when we saw our Chow Mein……..they then taught us the magic word….Low Mein…… 8 years it took!
Here's my list.
1. Bubble and Squeak: I had heard much about this dish, even while I lived in America, so I was keen to try it. It's supposed to be the previous day's leftovers fried up in lard, so what's not to like? In reality, it was awful; I've never been tempted again.
2. Dragon's Blood: This doesn't really count as a "British" food experience, other than the fact that I happened to be in Britain when it happened. My wife and I were at the annual Chili Festival and one of the booths there sold something called Dragon's Blood--a supernaturally hot chili sauce. They had samples to try; my wife dared me. (You can already see this coming, can't you?)
She scooped up a blob of the thick red sauce on a cracker and stuffed it in my mouth. The next thing I knew my head exploded, then my chest. I found I couldn't breath, or talk and my throat felt like someone had coated it with lava using barbed wire as a paintbrush.
We didn't buy a bottle.
3. Black Bun: This supposed traditional Scottish fruit bread is supposedly traditionally served at Christmas, but we only have my wife's father's word for that. He made some for us one year; you could build houses out of it.
4. A Kebab: As you weave your way home from the pub on a Saturday night, you're supposed to weave by the Donor Kebab joint for a tasty, late-night snack.
A kebab is a bun containing meat, fried onions and some sort of sauce, but it's best not to think about it too much. The meat is a mysterious amalgamation of processed animal by-products fashioned into a log with a spike through it. This log is rotated upright in a grilling device and the meat is carved off in thin strips as needed.
This is not a food generally consumed by sober people, but I had some time on my hands one afternoon and thought I'd stop by the local kebab shop and try one. I was the only customer. The proprietor seemed confused to be serving someone who wasn't weaving, looking cross-eyed and shouting at pigeons. I took it home, tried a few bites and threw it in the trash; I should have used a haz-mat container.
Now I know why most of them end up on the sidewalk, after they've been eaten.
5. Cullen Skink: In America, I loved clam chowder. In Britain, I couldn't find it. I also couldn't make it (translation difficulties; it's a long story). Then one day, while on holiday in Scotland, I saw "Cullen Skink" on the menu and ordered it just because I couldn't believe the name. It was a type of fish chowder, and it was delicious. Now I always stock a can or two of Cullen Skink in the cupboard. It's almost as good as clam chowder, and a lot easier to find.
That's my offering. Pretty impressive when you consider I didn't even mention haggis, black pudding or the chocolate popcorn cheesecake I had at Harvester one evening.
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22 hours ago