Ditch Blighty for the U.S., and you may find yourself longing for the best of British says Ruth Margolis in this article she published on July 12 2012. Ruth Margolis is a British freelance journalist who recently swapped East London for Brooklyn. She writes about TV for Radio Times and is working on her first novel. This is the second article of hers I am using as I really like the way she writes for BBC America. I usually agree with most of what she says. The following are the 10 things she says British expats will miss about the UK.
Actually, you can sometimes find the delicious brown gloop in U.S. supermarkets, although I’ve no idea who’s buying the stuff – other than the odd homesick Brit. Every American I’ve consulted on this has either never heard of Marmite or thinks it’s repulsive. Anyway, if you want to pick up a jar, try the baking aisle (you know, because of the yeast) of any grocery store. Expect to pay double what you would in the UK.
Kaisa: : I have no idea what Marmite is and can not recall ever seeing it. However, it made me think how we Finns and Russians use “live” yeast which you can not find anywhere else.
2 People saying sorry when it’s not their fault
Back home, if someone bumps into me, I’ll apologize profusely without even thinking about it. Similarly, if I decide to gallop headfirst into a fellow pedestrian, I expect them to respond with suitable contrition. Here, weirdly, it’s the responsible party who’s expected to utter the “S” word.
Kaisa: : Hmm…and I always thought it is the Americans who are so polite they apologize for everything possible and impossible. In fact the Finns seem incredibly rude after living in the USA. In Finland most people will not apologize when they bump into someone. They say maybe “oh hoh”..”oops” or something like that. However, my experience is limited with short visits to London where I always stayed with my American/Finnish friends Maarit and Tom Glocer close to Hyde Park Gate.
3 Tea (that isn’t Lipton):
The go-to brew in these parts is unthinkably vile to proper British tea drinkers. Lipton (*dry wretches*) has somehow managed to dominate the American tea market for over a century. Okay, you can buy other brands here but it’s still what every waiter pours out when this parched Brit orders a cuppa.
Kaisa:true, and if you pour milk into your tea here it is strange. I just love the English tea traditions.
4 Room temperature beer
Here’s another British-born yeast product that’s been tragically misinterpreted by its American foster parents. Craft beers with cute names are huge news in big cities, which is exciting until you discover that they serve them up cold. COLD. Unless you enjoy a hypothermic top note, grasp your pint glass between your thighs for a bit. Eventually your body heat will free up some flavor.
Kaisa: come on, the American put ice into everything, coffee, tea, water, soda…to the point that the few times I have ordered soda, I asked for the drink without ice. Ever checked how little soda you actually get after the ice? Try serving warm beer…that’s just out the question. My first experience with the ice was in the Hamptons where I was really turned off as so called wine experts were putting ice into a great Riesling at the dinner table.
5 Winding city streets
A fun thing to do in European cities is to get lost exploring their meandering boulevards and back alleys. When your landscape is broad streets that slot together at perfect 90-degree angles, like they do in countless U.S. cities, it’s not nearly as pleasurable. Then again, the grid system ensures you won’t get lost to begin with.
Kaisa:oh yes, that would be something many Europeans miss. The character of the crazy old cities and villages.
6 A National Health Service:
Insist all you want that government provided health care is an infringement of your human right to get sick and have no one give a hoot. I’ve tried paying and not paying for medical treatment and, shockingly, I like the version where I get free stuff – regardless of my financial status – better.
Kaisa: All Europeans do, long live the state backed up health care systems as long as they are also audited properly.
7 Balanced news coverage:
If there’s a serious news show in the U.S. that provides impartial coverage (i.e. doesn’t act as a mouthpiece for a political party) then I’m yet to hear about it. British news fiends will find themselves longing for more balanced UK-style current affairs programs. Luckily, you can stream BBC radio here without breaking any licensing laws.
Kaisa: : true, there are times I feel deceived by the news coverage here – it is so embarrassing not to even hear about what is going on in other countries. And if you start comparing for example Fox News and CNN…you start thinking you are going insane. Where is the integrity of the journalism?
8 Sunday pub roasts
Some weekends, I’d even settle for withered, spongy roast potatoes and beef so old and grey it’s more likely diplodocus than cow. Of course, it would need to be served with warm beer.
Kaisa: this is the part I can not comment……my experience is quite limited with the English pubs. I know the Irish pubs better..
Having searched, unsuccessfully, for lamb in five New York supermarkets, I recently found myself wondering if the U.S. even has sheep. I certainly can’t remember seeing one. “But I’m sure they had them in Brokeback Mountain,” I thought. (The Internet was down so this wasn’t resolved as quickly as it might have been.) Later, Google informed me that America does in fact have a healthy ovine population. Where the sheep go on sale once they’re dead is still a mystery.
Kaisa: : you are right, it is not as popular here in the USA. In Austin I can sometimes find it in the local supermarket and I have forced Lance and Gary I often cook for to become lamb fans. They actually love it – and now they know it is healthier than many other meats! And it is far tastier too!
10 Marks and Spencer’s underwear
My smalls are in dangerous need of update but nowhere makes workaday lingerie like M&S. Please someone tell me which U.S. stores stock cheap, well made, no frills lady things. All the American knickers I’ve fondled so far are either poor quality, uncomfortably slutty or too high end for mooching about in.
Kaisa: hah hah…I want to see Mark’s and Spencer’s underwear now. As a general note there are a lot of poor quality clothes in the USA. Where many Europeans like to purchase very good quality, pay a bit more and use the clothing much longer, many Americans prefer a lot of variety and follow trends more. If you check how many bras American women buy per year it is by far more than most Finns would buy!