Have I spoken at all about how difficult I am finding grocery shopping here in the UK? I think that it is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the thing that I was least prepared for in coming over from the States. I guess I was pretty ethnocentric in my thinking, because based on the fact that I have friends who have lived overseas and prepared my for culture shock and other things, and the fact that we had excellent inter-cultural training before we left, I assumed that buying products would be quite similar to that in America. Wrong-ola!
To be sure, there are many American products here. I can find Coke, Frosted Wheats, Skippy peanut butter, even Rice Krispie Treats. But, oh how different many things are! Take cheese for example. They have a phenomenal cheese selection here, but all the names are different, so you're never quite sure what you're getting. Plus, the american cheese that is a staple in our diet at home seems non-existent here, while cheddar seems to be used in that capacity here (Duh! I guess it is called American cheese!). Things like sour cream and whipped cream are very different in texture and consistency to what I'm used to at home.
Now let's talk about meat. Warning: I'm going to discuss my distaste for English beef here. I'm sorry, but it's just gross. It's got such a different taste, being grass-fed instead of grain fed. I swear to you, even the cows look different here. Of course, this is quite a biased opinon, coming from the granddaughter of the best cattle farmer in all of Indiana! So, I'm pretty much on a beef-strike until I get back home, except for McDonald's and Outback Steakhouse, which both import their beef.
Onto another meat, the traditional Easter ham. I couldn't find one. Clearly, there were things that looked like hams but had different names, but I was afraid to buy them because I wasn't sure how to prepare them! And it's a good thing I didn't. An expat yahoo group I'm on has just gone through a discussion about how hams like we're used to in the States don't exist here. You know --the pre-cooked, spiral cut ones? Yep. Not available. The group suggested if you ever buy a ham here soaking it overnight in the fridge and then boiling it all day to rid it of the overly salty flavor. No thanks!
So, I guess now I'll explain why I think this year might be henceforth and forevermore known as the "Year of Spam" in our family. I know how to cook it. It's familiar. It's available here. And it has become a once-a-week meal in our house here. Now, I know you might be gagging right about now. And, I didn't think I'd ever confess that I was feeding my family Spam once a week. I've had my run of guilt feelings related to the cholesterol that is coursing through my family's veins because of this particular meat product. But, even with all these thoughts, it still makes an appearance as the main course once a week.
Can anyone tell me what that slimy stuff is that comes out with the Spam when it comes out of the can? Eeewwwww! Just wondering.