Some random thoughts on food and groceries in Britain, compared to San Francisco. I’ll add more as I come across them.
- One of the things that has shocked me most about buying groceries in England is the realization of how many preservatives must be in American food. At home, I can buy a loaf of white sandwich bread and keep it on the counter for a couple of weeks. Here, it develops mold in a matter of days. I bought some packaged crumpets on Tuesday and by Saturday most were covered in mold and had to be thrown away. Prepackaged salad mix in the US will last for at least a week (if transferred to a more porous bag). Here, I’m lucky if it’s usable after 3-4 days, even if transferred to produce bags.
- A random list of some of the best packaged foods I’ve had:
- Speculoos cookies – I first discovered these spice cookies in Belgium (they’re actually from the Netherlands), but I’ve seen them in several Western European countries. Italy had Speculoos-flavor gelato… mmmmm! You can get a similar cookie in the US under the name Biscoff.
- Ginger nuts – this is just the English name for ginger cookies, as far as I can tell. And there are lots and lots of varieties of ginger cookies on grocery shelves, well beyond simple ginger snaps. Anything marked with ‘stem ginger’ will have lovely chunks of ginger… Tesco’s brand also has crystalized ginger pieces. (Tesco is a large grocery chain that happens to have the largest grocery store near me at the moment.)
- Poppadom ‘chips’ – Packaged and marketed as salty snacks like potato chips, these are wonderful. Walker’s makes them in lime & coriander chutney and some other flavors. (The video in the link is from the 80s, and that’s a real Sikh Elvis impersonator, who was apparently quite famous.)