Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Exploring the Flavors (Flavours?) of Britain

Grateful as I am to be American, I really do enjoy living outside America. My favorite books are about women from other cultures. Developing international friendships is among my Top 10 definitions of Pure Joy. I love listening to the cadence of foreign languages spoken in conversation and the sounds of music from various regions of the world. Even my political perspective has been shaped by my experiences of living for an extended time as a minority in countries other than my own.

And, of course, there’s the food. Mmm-mmm-mmm. Spicy or sweet flavors, cooked by complex or simple methods, eaten with my hands, a spoon or chopsticks -- I adore ethnic food. Each time I’ve moved to a new place, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed exploring the supermarket and learning how to make local recipes using local ingredients. It’s fun to make now-familiar recipes, given by friends in previous places, using now-local substitutes.

Decades before we moved to England, possibly in fact my whole life, I've been wholeheartedly devoted to the glories of tea. Thanks to the Scottish ladies in our church growing up, I’ve been a longtime fan of shortbread biscuits (cookies) and scones. And having been influenced by a college roommate who spent a summer in London, for the past 20 years I’ve been eating Continental style, with fork in my left hand and knife in my right.

Since coming here nearly two years ago, I’ve discovered that eating beans with a breakfast including eggs, bacon and toast is, as Jack would say, really yum. Not to be confused with the frozen pot pies of my childhood, savory pies -- beef, chicken or fish -- have become my favorite pub lunch, especially on a cold, drizzly day. And Matt and I have both fallen in love with roast potatoes -- served alongside roast beef, chicken or lamb -- when we’ve been invited round to friends’ houses for Sunday lunch.

All of these food faves are within the realm of the expected, but my newest British taste sensation is one I never thought I’d acquire: Weetabix! There’s no way I could make it sound remotely delectable because it’s just a flaky version of shredded wheat, simply wheat in cereal form. No sugar, no cinnamon -- absolutely nothing to jazz it up.

I’m not sure I want to know what this means. Am I getting more entrenched in the culture here than I realized? Have I learned to appreciate even the bland side of flavor? Have my weather-related moods gotten the better of me? Or am I just getting old?

Not that it’s all that worth writing or reading about, but since much of my day involves planning, buying, preparing and serving food for our little family, it was on my mind.


Emily M said...

Aunt Laura, I can't believe you like Weetabix! Dad ate those practically every day back home, and we called them Weetabricks. Apparently I liked them when I was little, but I've since moved on to more appetizing breakfasts. Although I definitely agree, I love beans for breakfast! :)

Unknown said...

I echo Emily's sentiments. I always thought something was a little off with Dad's tastebuds - his favorite Kenyan foods are Weeta(bricks) and ugali.

Tasty. ;)

Unknown said...

Oh, maybe it's cuz all tastebuds have been burned off by spicy food ("Can we have peanut butter & jelly??")

BonnieJ said...

Weetabix, yogurt, and berries - a great breakfast!

Anonymous said...

Did you ever eat Weetabix in Kenya? And what made you feel the need to try them now? I don't know if I could aquire the taste of those! And just in case you are ever back in the states and have a craving for some, look around... I saw some in a grocery store a couple of months back!