What it’s REALLY like across the pond

I haven’t posted anything for a long time.  Seriously, it’s been over a month!

I’m sure you’re [not] wondering why this is; well….life has been pretty ‘samey’ recently and there hasn’t been anything that has amused or pissed me off in a while.

Over a month actually.

Anyway, the other day I was asked a question that stunned me into silence so much that it inspired me to write this post.  The question I was asked was:

“Is Christmas day in the UK the same as it is in the US?”

I paused for a moment, blinked a few times, and then gave a polite and sensible reply.

Oh, wait, no I didn’t.

I was sarcastic, condescending and there was a lot of finger pointing and laughing. I won’t lie….I was a bit of a cunt about it.

But honestly, who thinks Christmas is on a different day in the UK!?

Anyway, this got me thinking about all the questions and conversations I’ve been in that highlight the misconceptions Americans have about the UK and Europe in general. I have already touched on some of these before, but they just won’t go away….like syphilis or any of the Kardashians1.

So, without further ado:

We all drink Tea in the UK

Actually….no.

Granted, tea IS a big deal in the UK but there are a lot of Brits that don’t like it, opting instead for coffee. We like to call those people ‘traitors’ or ‘weird’. In addition, Americans also don’t realise that we generally drink tea with milk.

“Oh. My. GAWD!  With milk??”

Yes, with milk.

They go on and on (and fucking on) about how much we drink tea in Britain, but have absolutely NO idea about the tea we actually drink.  I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve been asked what flavour tea I drink.

“Fruit?”  No.

“Green?”  Still no.

“Camomile?”2  Nope.

“Earl Grey?”  Erm, some people do.

“So what do y’all drink then?”

Proper (black) tea…in a mug….with milk and sugar; very few people use the clichéd dainty little cup and saucer with the obligatory pinky finger sticking out.  Take note America, a proper mug – sometimes with a crack in it – is the ONLY way to drink tea.

Oooh, I do fancy a cuppa right now.

Geographically confusing delights

English Muffins

In America they have ‘English Muffins’ which, aside from McDonalds, I have never seen in the UK ever.

Yes, I know the flag isn’t the English flag. More on that below….

Yet I get told that we all eat them in England because, well, it has England in the name.  It’s either English muffins or ‘tea and crumpets’.  Sorry to tell you this America, but we don’t all eat crumpets all the time with our tea.  If anything, it would be tea and toast.

Mmmm, tea and hot buttered toast….with either Marmite or a nice bitter marmalade.

But tea and crumpets?  Rarely.

Additionally, whilst I’m on the subject of geographically named sweet treats, they also have something over here called:

German Chocolate Cake

I’ve been to Germany several times and never seen this cake.  Do you want to know why?  Hmm?  Do you?  Well, here is what I found on Wikipedia:

‘German chocolate cake, originally German’s chocolate cake, is a layered chocolate cake from the United States filled and topped with a coconut-pecan frosting. It owes its name to an English-American chocolate maker named Samuel German’

Interesting….considering I’ve been told, categorically, that it DOES come from Germany and I “don’t know what i’m talking about”, so it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy that:

a) I’m right, and

b) The people who told me that bullshit, read my blog.

Read it bitches…..read it all!

French Fries

I don’t even want to get started on this one.  Let’s just move on shall we?

French Toast

Nope.  Never seen that in France ANYWHERE.  Toast in France is usually thin and NOT packed to the gills with sugar, butter and death.

Italian Wedding Soup. 

Yep, apparently that’s a thing here too.  I’m half Italian and I’ve been to real Italian weddings and I have NEVER seen this soup. How can this be? 

Oh hello Wikipedia!

Wedding soup or Italian wedding soup is an Italian-American soup consisting of green vegetables and meat. It is popular in the United States, where it is a staple in many Italian restaurants.

Honestly, I’m not sure why this is a) Italian and b) for weddings.  It’s a lovely soup, but at the end of the day it’s still a soup….and soup can be messy.  Adding any type of sloshy food to people in their smartest attire, and one big white dress, is a recipe for disaster (thinly stretched pun intended).

Belgian Waffles

Now THIS one is actually accurate.  This style of waffle IS Belgian; I’ve been to Belgium a lot and they’re exactly the same as the American ones.  Only, this time, the Americans just call them ‘Waffles’; no ‘Belgian’ in there whatsoever.  The ONE time it’s actually correct to name a food after a country and they don’t do it!

I despair, I really do.

(takes a moment to compose himself)

OK…moving on….

Paris is romantic

No it’s not.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but it really isn’t. It’s grey, grimy, crap and in French.

It’s basically London with less friendly people…trust me!  The Hollywood held perception is that Paris is all cobble streets and baguettes, with accordion music faintly heard on the breeze, when in reality it’s a bustling city with the sound of constant droning traffic.

Oh, and it smells like toilet.  Not ‘Eau Du Toilette’…….an actual toilet.

Yes, it has the Eiffel Tower and yes the architecture is old and beautiful and it has museums and bridges and stuff, but that’s the case all over Europe.  Paris isn’t special in that respect.  Paris is, for want of a better word, a shithole.

Sorry France.3

London is all cobble streets and fog

I’ve touched on this before, but I’ve been asked this more than a handful of times.  Look at the description of Paris above and you’ve basically got London.  It’s pretty much the same, but not in French.  This is useful for understanding what’s being said about me by waiters and shop staff when I’m being overcharged for their lacklustre service.

The English all say things like ‘Tally ho’ , ‘Pip pip’ and ‘Guv’nor’

This is very true. Also, the French say “Sa·cré bleu!” a lot too, did you know that?

I’ve found that a lot of Americans say “Yee-Haw!!” and “Rootin’ Tootin’!!” all the time.

(rolls eyes until they hurt a bit)

British Food is terrible and bland

This is both wrong AND wrong.  In addition, it’s also wrong.

Firstly, it’s difficult to define ‘British food’ because Britain is actually made up of four countries/nations, each with their own foods and palettes.  I can’t speak for the other three countries, but I can speak for England.

Oh, did I mention that there is no understanding of the difference between England and Britain?  No?  Well, more of that in due course…

Anyway, back to the food.  There’s a belief that British food is bland and tasteless.  Ha ha ha ha WRONG!  Despite being a small(ish) island, Britain is located and influenced by all the European cuisine surrounding it, and it’s an international hub for commerce across the planet….so the food is AMAZING!  In fact there are more options and choices in the UK than I’ve found anywhere else, including the USA.

Aside from the traditional British foods like fish and chips, a full roast dinner, a proper ‘full English’ breakfast etc…we also have Indian, Italian, French, American (yes, we do burgers too), Greek, Turkish, Indian, Spanish, Japanese, African, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Polish, German, Blah, Blah, Blah……basically we have them ALL!

And yes, I meant to put ‘Indian’ in there more than once.  I LOVE Indian food and it has become the UK’s most favourite food!  Seriously, the national dish of the UK is Chicken tikka masala!

Mmmm, Chicken tikka masala….

And don’t even get me started on a good ol’ doner kebab!  It’s the most unhealthy and delicious food know to mankind.

Wait, no…that’s not right.  Let me try that again….

And don’t even get me started on a good ol’ doner kebab!  It’s the most unhealthy and delicious food know to drunk revellers outside the taxi rank after a night out on the piss.

No, it’s not a fucking ‘Gyro’

Now THAT’S British! (or Turkish actually)

America’s answer to post piss-up nosh?  McDonald’s.

Oh dear.

Europe is a country

Not only is this a belief (just like Africa), it’s surprising how many people I’ve spoken to who can’t point to Europe on a map, let alone the individual countries it consists of!

Besides, why bother learning about these countries when you can simply visit them at Epcot anyway?

(rolls eyes until they start bleeding slightly)

The UK, Great Britain and England are the same

I can understand why this is confusing, but even after I’ve explained it to one of my American friends, I can still see the lack of understanding behind their eyes.

Then again, it could be the huge doses of sugar and sodium in their diet.

(shrugs)

For clarity, here is a visual breakdown….

It’s like the United States, but with four states, not fifty.

Now, I’m sure this as clear as mud, but allow me to explain.

There are effectively four countries or ‘nations’ at play here.  England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.  The uncoloured area below Northern Ireland is, unsurprisingly, Southern Ireland (or ‘The Republic of Ireland’) and actually forms part of Europe.

Yes, they have Euros as currency.

Confused yet?

Well, the English occasionally refer to themselves as British, but the Scottish, Irish and Welsh don’t…..even though they are.  In the same way that people from Hawaii refuse to call themselves American…..even though they are.

So, when I’m told I have a British accent I do smile to myself as there is no such thing really….unless I include all four accents together:

“I say good sir, the laddie is just a wee bairn, to be sure, so it is boyo isn’t it?”

Hmmm….

And, whilst I’m on the subject of the the UK….here is how the Union Flag came to be:

This is why the flag in the muffin picture earlier was technically incorrect

We celebrate Thanksgiving and 4th July

I can’t begin to tell you how many times i’ve been asked if we celebrate these. Oh, wait….I already have!

And, for the record, we also have Hallowe’en4

However, we do not have the following holidays:

  • Labor Day (should be ‘Labour’, but hey, who am I to judge?)
  • Presidents Day
  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Veteran’s Day
  • Columbus Day

Take a moment and ask yourselves why this is.  If you can’t answer that question, feel free to ask me about it and see what kind of answer you get.

One of the UK holiday days I miss a lot is Boxing Day, which is the day after Christmas Day (still also the 25th December).  In the US a few have started calling it DAXMAS (Day After XMAS), but it’s not an official  holiday day and serves no purpose other than…well….it’s the day after Christmas.

For us Brits (all four nations), Boxing Day is another Christmas Day and I love it!

“Why is it called Boxing Day?”

Why thank you for stepping in Wikipedia!

All the presents. All the food. All the booze.

 

1 – It’s a reoccurring joke on here, but seriously….when are these harpies going to fuck off and leave us in peace?

2 – I have NO idea why the USA have added an ‘H’ to this word, considering the way they usually hack letters OUT of words.

3 – Not really.  I hate Paris.

4 – It actually originated in the UK!  You’re welcome.

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I thought this was the land of the Free? 

In the UK there are sales and specials in the shops this time of year.  One of these specials is a 2 for 1 offer known as ‘Buy One,  Get one Free‘,  or BOGOF

This is a little tongue in cheek because the term “Bog off” is a playful version of “Fuck off“. Reserved for your kids pre-moving out age. 

Then “Fuck off”  is perfectly acceptable. 

Anyway,  in America they have the same offer,  but it’s called BOGO.

So you ‘Buy One,  Get One‘.  Isn’t that just ‘Buy one‘? 

I mean,  if I  buy a car,  I get a car. That’s what buying something is…isn’t it? 

So why leave out the word’ Free‘?  It’s not like America doesn’t like that word.  

Well,  except maybe ‘sugar-free’ 

Another Swing and a miss.

I saw an advert on TV that was promoting Michael Buble’s new album.

Fair enough. 

Christmas is coming and the housewives are getting restless; it makes sense.

At the end it said “Available wherever music is sold

Well, obviously.

Where else are they going to sell it?

“Er yeah, hi, I’ll have a Big Mac meal with a large milkshake please….oh, and the new Michael Buble album”

How fucking retarded do they think we are?  What happened to ‘Out Now’ or ‘Available in Stores’?

Nope, apparently we need to be told it’s available wherever music is sold.

After years of asking, Mr B….I’ve decided I WILL cry you that river.

I’m not feeling the holiday flavour

Halloween is long gone and thanksgiving is not far behind us…but pumpkin fever is still strong in America.

Everything is pumpkin flavoured (flavored) over here:

Lattes, pies, sweets (candy), biscuits (cookies), cereal, doughnuts (donuts), yoghurt (yogurt), crackers, tea, cream, wine, cheesecake, bread, chocolate, tortilla chips, salsa, marshmallows, moonshine, beer, bagels, jelly (jello), pretzels, milk, pancakes, crisps (chips), cream cheese, ice cream, popcorn, almonds, oatmeal and lube.

Delicious 😉

The thing is, it’s referred to as ‘Pumpkin Spice’, but it’s not ACTUALLY the flavour of a pumpkin.  The worrying thing is, I don’t think many people here realise that.

“I love pumpkin!”, is something I hear a lot, but to be honest I don’t think anyone here knows what a pumpkin really tastes like.

I’ve asked many Americans if they’ve eaten pumpkin and the answer is usually “Er, hello?  Pumpkin pie?” followed by a derisive look.

Ah, bless ’em.

You could make a pumpkin pie from mashed carrot, swede (rutabaga), turnip or even baby food and they won’t know as long as it tastes like ‘pumpkin’.

So, to set the record straight, this is pumpkin spice.

pumpkinspice

And this is pumpkin.

pumpkinflesh

This is a vegetable. Can you say v-e-g-e-t-a-b-l-e?

They’re very different.

I HAVE eaten pumpkin and it’s nothing like the spice.  If anything it’s like the bastard lovechild between a swede and a honeydew melon.

But less sweet.

This misrepresentation of a flavour bothers me and I don’t know why.  I think America needs to have flavourings that are more representative of the fruit or vegetable it’s supposed to be.

Like grape.

 

Fa la la la la, la la la laaaaaAAAARRGHH!!!

Today is Christmas Day and I am at work.

To be honest, I don’t really mind; the commute to the office was easier, my colleagues are in a festive mood and the customers have reached new depths of unmeasured dumbfuckery.

It all keeps me smiling.

One of the guys (and a good friend) is playing Christmas music loudly through his computer.

How very festive.

I’m torn between my love for him, my disdain for Christmas music and the utterly overwhelming desire to shove his PC up his arse.

lube

Fed Zeppelin

The supermarket last night was manic, with last minute Christmas shoppers packing their trollies tight like a hungry alcoholic competition winner on a supermarket dash.

I was regrettably in there because we had run out of alcohol in the house and that’s a sin at any time of the year, let alone Christmas.

After negotiating the badly driven trollies and turkey laden imbeciles with no sense of direction or intelligence, I loaded up my trolley and slalomed my way through the festive fuckwits to the checkouts.

After queuing for an eternity behind knuckle draggers and bickering couples, I finally reached the checkout.  I began loading my meagre purchases onto the belt and awaited my “sorry to keep you waiting, would you like some bags?” from the friendly checkout girl.

No, its OK, I’ll just kick my stuff all the way to the car.

Probably not the best approach as these guys were swamped with Chrismassy cretins and their sanity was hanging by a thread.

As I was stood there being thankful that ASDA didn’t sell firearms, I couldn’t help but watch the two women behind me unloading their shopping onto the belt behind mine (and yes, this time there was a divider). They were both rather large ladies, one considerably larger than the other. A lot larger.

I shall call her Zeppelina.

They were placing item after item after item after item onto the checkout which had started creaking under the weight, and I began to wonder if this was their Christmas shop or ‘just the weekly’.

Anyway, after about 5 minutes Zeppelina pulled out an empty chocolate wrapper from their trolley and gave her friend a smile that said, ‘oops, what am I like?’.

A pig?

Zeppelina used this moment to take a breather from the exhaustive nature of what she was doing (as some of those cakes looked quite heavy), and once she’d caught her breath and stopped wheezing she handed the wrapper to her friend and said, “we’ll need to explain that”.

No she won’t.

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