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my love language is food

Dear England,

I am scared of black pudding. I have not tried it. I have read about it and looked at it. Putting extra blood in my food doesn't appeal to me.

There is also seems to be a general overuse of mayonnaise. Would you like a dressing for your salad? Obviously, a pack of mayonnaise will do. Mayonnaise is also the perfect dipping sauce apparently. It's all you really need.

Other than those two nightmares, I am LOVING the food. Thank you for feeding me and making me happy. We are having delicious times here in the United Kingdom!

Much love,

Your Perpetually Hungry Canadian Friend

Before I lived in England, I thought of fish and chips as the quintessential British food. I would say this is probably accurate. You can find fish and chip shops everywhere, and they are amazing. Previously, the best fish I had tasted was definitely on the coast of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Freshly caught, freshly battered. So good. But fries, not chips. And no mushy peas or curry sauce to be seen. Did you know that chips and fries are actually two different things and not just taotology? Fries are cut into, or shaped into strips, although they can be julienned quite thin or on the chunky side. Chips are cut up potatoes (never reconstituted), and always on the chunky side. They are greasy and crispy in the best possible ways. I am converted. I prefer British chips to french fries, not to be confused with chips in Canada, which are called crisps here. Are you confused yet?

A lot of food in England and Canada go by different names so as to be mysterious. Do you enjoy arugula? If so, you must live in North America, because arugula is known as rocket in the UK. Eggplant is aubergine, Zucchini is courgette, a sausage is a banger, ham is gammon, a cookie is a biscuit, and a cupcake is a fairy cake, although I need some British input on the fairy cakes, as I have been too embarrassed to use this term in real life interactions (even when I buy cupcakes at a shop and they are clearly labelled, "Fairy Cakes"). If you were to order a lemonade in England, they would bring you a lemon-lime pop, such as Sprite or 7-Up. I still do not know what they call lemons with water and sugar (North American Lemonade).

Let us take a moment to discuss the British Pub. In Canada, a pub is where you go to drink, it is often called a bar, and I never really knew the difference between the two words. I do feel like Canada has so many British/American/all over the world influences, we regularly use terms and customs from many cultures. Canada is a true mosaic (not a melting pot). A Pub, in the United Kingdom, is a very definite thing. It is a community gathering place, an institution. It is friendly, there is food, often music, THERE ARE KIDS, there is also a bar. Last night I walked to my local with a friend. We had a few drinks, crisps, a lovely visit. There was a live "band," two people with a guitar, vocals, and a backing track, but they were doing fun songs. A few people were dancing. It was all very cute and very British and there were children under the age of 10 who were still at the pub when I left around 11 pm. The takeaway here is that I am less cool than a 10 year old child.

Pub food is delicious. On Sundays, you can pretty much walk into any pub and get a wonderful roast. Sunday roasts consist of roast beef, roast potatoes (cooked in goose fat and utterly perfect), YORKSHIRE PUDDING (all in caps because it is the best thing in the world- as you probably know), various veg (never say the full word, vegetables, in England, it's just not allowed), and GRAVY. Yes. Everyone, travel to England just for this. We took our kids to an adorable old pub, with a proper thatched roof, and doorways that Husband had to duck to enter, for our first Sunday roast. There was a play structure outside for the children to frolic on whilst we waited for our food. Such a beautiful food and family memory. Let's not forget the other greats of British Pub Food, a Full English Breakfast (bacon, sausage, beans, tomato, mushrooms, toast, and black pudding- for the brave), Bangers and Mash, Toad in the Hole, Pasties, Savoury Pies, more fish and more chips. It's heavy, delicious, fill you up food. Curry is also extremely popular and expertly made in England. We may have a lifelong friend in our Indian food delivery driver, whom we may see fortnightly. Our children may ask for Poppadoms regularly.

Don't be alarmed, but I have yet to try Spotted Dick. It's apparently a very yummy pudding (cake), with a very unfortunate name. If you are wandering into an establishment with a hankering for something sweet, you are looking for a pudding, not a dessert. Puddings are delightful in England. My favourites are Eton Mess- strawberries, broken meringue, and whipped heavy cream, and Banoffee Pie- a gorgeous portmanteau combining bananas, toffee, and cream on a biscuit or pastry pie crust, often with chocolate shavings on top. My other favourites are Trifle, Millionaire's Shortbread, Sticky Toffee Pudding, and Bakewell Tarts. Further favourites are Jam Roly-Poly, Bread Pudding, Treacle Tart, Mince Pie, Christmas Pudding (which apparently should be lit on fire), and Jelly Doughnuts (family favourite). Basically all the puddings are outstanding. Hurrah for England's sweet tooth!

What England does best, is tea. It is delicious, available, comforting, and a lovely ritual. I had been trained, by a dear English friend, while still in Canada, to appreciate a proper black English Tea (Yorkshire Tea- if you care to judge my choices). I drink at least a cup a day with milk, no sugar. I love that if friends come around, you need only have tea, milk, sugar, and maybe some biscuits on hand to offer. England is grey, and rainy, and it's easy to get a chill. A hot tea is warming and actually quite helpful in fending off the cold. I have never seen a country full of people so happy for a cuppa. How do you make friends in England? The answer is always, tea. If you are in the mood for something fancy, you can go to tea, commonly called High Tea at posh spots in Canada, where you will be charmed by scones with clotted cream and jam (this might be my actual favourite thing), tea sandwiches and various other savouries, and some sweet options as well. Admittedly, I do have some anxiety over whether I am presenting the tea properly, steeping the appropriate amount of time, adding the correct amount of milk, does the clotted cream go first or the jam? I read that you should have your jam and cream on the side and add a little on each bite. British custom is fastidious, but also charming. Sometimes supper can be referred to as tea... are you confused now?

There are foods that I miss from Canada. It's cliché, but I miss the convenience of Tim Hortons. I miss drive through restaurants and drive through coffee (my waistline, however, does not miss these things). I miss poutine, SALADS, dill pickles, Taco Bell, peanut butter, and Caesars. Luckily, cheese and chocolate are my soulmates and they taste so much better in England. This will get me through the difficult times. I am just grateful to have access to appetizing food and the ability to fill my tiny fridge full of it.

Feel free to peruse some of my food pictures, I take so many more than I post! My love language is definitely food. I can't think of anything so endearing as someone cooking or preparing food for someone else. Husband just brought me a ham sandwich, and that's true love.

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