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?

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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The Tale Of The Baffling Barista

My wife and I work the same shift at the same company, and that shift starts at 5am.  As a result, we’re usually very sleepy during the drive into work.  I have to say, it makes the other drivers nervous when they look over and see us both snoring, heads back, drooling.

This morning my wife felt the desire for Starbucks coffee and she asked[1] if we could stop at a drive through [or ‘drive-thru’ for all my American chums out there].

Of course.

We pulled up behind a car already in the queue [line] ordering their coffee.  Soon enough, after a brief 3 hours, the car finally moved and we rolled up the microphone.

The speaker crackled into life.

“Welcome to Starbucks”

“Hi”, we both replied in sleepy unison.

“Yeah, we’re actually not open right now.”, came the lacklustre response in that inimitable style that made it sound like a question.

“Oh….OK. Never mind, thank you”

We looked at each other, shrugged and started to drive off.  Unfortunately we couldn’t go far as the car in front of us was at the next window waiting for their coffee.

We couldn’t get around them and, despite my wife’s insistence I beep my horn and ‘urge’ them to move the fuck out of the way, I decided to reverse back along the drive through lane as there were no cars behind us…..at 4:30am on a Monday.

I wonder why.

Anyway, as we reversed back past the microphone/speaker we could hear the woman babbling something over the intercom, so we stopped.

“Welcome to Starbucks, can I take your order?”

We looked at each other again, but this time in total confusion.  My wife leaned across me and said, “Wait….I thought you said you were closed.”

The speaker crackled back into life, “No, I said we we’re not open right now.”

Wait, isn’t that the same thing?

The speaker continued to crackle with attitude as the woman told us why they weren’t open yet; something about waiting for something or whatever….I don’t know.  Anyway, her tedious tale concluded with her asking if she could take our order.

Maybe it was the fact we were half asleep and devoid of caffeine, but she made no sense whatsoever.

So if you’re reading this and you’re not from the USA, take note…..’Not Open‘ and ‘Closed‘ mean different things over here….apparently.

Just like ‘Starbucks Barista‘ and ‘Testy Imbecile‘.

He he, ‘Testy’

[1] Demanded

You are what you eat (and you’re full of shit)

Before moving to America, my wife told me how many chemicals and additives there were in American food.  It seems the USA doesn’t have the strict regulations that Europe has regarding the shit that companies can inject into what we eat and drink.

I had no idea to what extent she was not kidding!

I first noticed how much sugar there is in stuff over here.  It’s in everything, but to the Nth degree!  Bread has been the biggest surprise; if you open a bag of bread and smell the loaf [insert toilet gag1 here], it smells like cake.  And cakes here are so sweet they’ve surpassed the maximum sweetness possible by the laws of nature and have shifted into another dimension entirely.

But it doesn’t stop with sugar (ever!).  The adverts (commercials) here use the addition of unnecessary chemicals and additives to promote and sell their foods.

Ice-cream is advertised with “No Growth Hormones!“, burgers promoted as having “No hormones, antibiotics or steroids!” and even dairy products brag about their milk having “50% less sugar“, or cheese being “100% cheese, not 51%“.

51%?  Bit random.

Now, I know this is a scare tactic to make you question their competitors’ products, but was I delusional to assume these products wouldn’t contain this shit as standard?

“Hey! Try our new coffee, made with 100% coffee and absolutely no wood screws or powdered glass!”.

Mmm, delicious.

It’s on a level my wife could never have prepared me for.  Even salt here is packed full of additional ingredients and chemicals, the names of which baffle and terrify me in equal measures.  I mean, it’s salt!  Surely the ingredient of salt should be salt?  I understand the need for an anti-caking agent, but outside that….it should be just salt, right?  Or am I overthinking this?

This unnecessary use of additional ingredients reminded me of something my wife showed me back in England; it was the list of ingredients for McDonald’s french fries in the UK and the USA.  Check this out…

fries-uk-vs-usa

Potatoes, oil and salt.  What more do you need?

And it doesn’t stop there.  Check out this seasonal favourite!

latte-uk-vs-usa

Nothing in red can be good!

So let’s take a moment to digest (or not) that the US version of this beverage has ‘Caramel Color’ in it…twice.  This is an ingredient that has been considered carcinogenic by the Agency for Research on Cancer!

So….Fuck. That.

Now, I’m aware these images have been pulled from the internet and could be utter bullshit….but they’re not.

Or are they? 2

So here are a couple of photos I took of products I’ve seen at work that defy the laws of sense and responsibility.

Recognise these, America?

bottles

I drink a lot of coffee….and it says ‘mate’…what’s not to love?

They’re sat next to the coffee machine looking sweet and innocent (and boy are they sweet!).

They look like cream and they taste a bit like cream….but they’re NOT cream.  They are so far from cream, they might as well be a car.

The fact they’re not stored in the fridge should have alarm bells ringing in your head.  In fact, the word ‘cream’ doesn’t appear in the terrifying list of ingredients at all!

ingredients

Do you notice the first (and therefore largest) ingredient is sugar? It appears BEFORE water!

This shit doesn’t even have milk in it, although there is a milk derivative.

A derivative?  What’s a derivative?

Well, Google defines it as:

Adjective – (typically of an artist or work of art) imitative of the work of another person, and usually disapproved of for that reason.

Or

Noun – something that is based on another source.

So yeah, it means ‘something that resembles milk, but isn’t‘.  I suppose that’s why it ends with ‘Not a source of lactose‘.  That’s great for those who are lactose intolerant I suppose.  But in all honesty, lactose is probably less harmful to those people than the cocktail of sugar, water and oils in this easy-pump jizz.

Yes, it looks like jizz.  You’ve all thought it.

And it doesn’t stop there.  I saw these packets on a shelf yesterday!

popeyehoney

Wait…Corn Syrup, Fructose and High Fructose Corn Syrup? What the actual fuck?

It seems Popeye’s took honey and added crap to make it sweeter (what??) and more ‘honey-coloured’!  I can’t get over the lunacy here!  Why not just leave it as honey?  After all, isn’t honey sweet enough?  I didn’t taste it because I didn’t want to be sucked into another dimension.

Also, did you notice the appearance of ‘Caramel Color’ again? Those aren’t pictures of hexagonal honeycomb cells on the packet; they’re human cells dripping with cancer.

soapbox

1 Pun/Play on words intended
2 They’re not

“I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello” – The Beatles

I got to work a bit early this morning, so took the opportunity to make myself some coffee and toast.

Whilst I was waiting by the toaster another employee came over to put some Tupperware’d nastiness in the microwave.  We smiled and performed the customary “Good Morning”, the optional “How’s your day going?” and (as I found out very quickly) the unnecessary “I’m utterly fucked”.

I must say, her face indicated that maybe, just maybe, I may have gone a tad too far; but she asked….so….

Anyway, she went back to zapping her box of whatever and I went back to waiting for my toast to ‘Shadunk‘ out of the toaster, when another employee walked by and shouted out to my new ‘friend’.

“Yoo Hoo gurl!” (not a typo; she said ‘gurl’, not ‘girl’)

“Oh, toodle-oo!”

Face palm.  That’s ‘goodbye’, you twat.

Ding!

Shadunk!

Oh, thank fuck.

toaster hit

Talking crap

I’ve just been for that first satisfying bowel movement of the day.  The one that usurps all others.

It was great.

But, unlike those I enjoy at weekends, this one was at the office.

A downside to curling out a fresh biscuit at work is that you’re not always the only baker in the bakery.  This visit was one of those times.

Now, a story like this isn’t unusual under normal circumstances, but this was far from normal.  As I entered the toilets [restroom/bathroom] I could hear that the occupant of the far cubicle [stall] was talking to someone.  He was on the phone.

I took the first cubicle because, well, no-one likes to poo within a foot of another person.  I don’t care if there’s a layer of wood between me and him; if I can see the shadow of his feet, I’m too close.

The toilets at work don’t have piped in music, nor are they located next to an airport runway so it was deathly quiet in there and therefore I could hear every word he was saying.

“I know”

“Yes, I heard you”

“Well, you hurt my feelings”

“Yes”

“Yes I know”

“OK”

There was a pause.

“I love you”

His call must have ended at that point because he then proceeded to wipe his arse.

Nice.

I finished my performance, flushed and then spent an unnecessarily long time washing and drying my hands.

Why?

Well, it could be because I believe in good personal hygiene, or it could be because I wanted to see if this guy had the bollocks to come out of his cubicle and reveal himself.

He didn’t.

I wouldn’t have either.

So, to respect his privacy and integrity, I left.

Then, out of respect for the guy, I didn’t hang around in the kitchen waiting to see who emerged.  I didn’t think it was right to make myself a coffee really slowly so I could check out if it was someone I knew (who may read my blog and somehow take this invasion of privacy personally).

After a few minutes he emerged.  Thankfully I didn’t know him.

It was just one of our security team; a massive bastard built like a brick shithouse.

This could be my last post.

picard phone loo

A very ‘British’ cup of coffee

I’m currently at work and I’ve just been to make myself a mug of coffee.

Here’s what happened.

I poured the coffee, added sweetener (I try and avoid sugar from a health point of view, despite the fact that sweetener is nothing but chemicals…but hey, less calories right?), and opened the fridge to get a carton of milk.

One of my colleagues was pouring herself a coffee, saw me add the milk to my coffee and said “How very British”.

I looked at my coffee confused for a moment, then at her, then back to my coffee. What’s very British?  Coffee?  Er, I think you’ll find that’s a very American thing.

Then she placed her cup under one of these bad boys…

CoffeeMate

…and starting pumping her beverage with Hazelnut…erm…’cream’?  Is it cream?

(Shrugs) Who knows?

I smiled at her as she pumped 6 doses of this stuff into her coffee and said “I used to use that until I saw the calorie content.  That’s why I went back to using milk”

She looked at me blankly for a moment.  I couldn’t tell if she was trying to comprehend what I’d said or if she was recuperating from having to count all the way up to 6.

She eventually replied with “And you guys put milk in your tea, right?” as she curled up her nose in disgust.

“Yes we do.  Actually it’s only you guys who don’t”, I said, a little defensively.

There was a pause.

“Yeah”.

She had clearly lost her way in this conversation and went back to stirring her mug of Hazelnut ‘cream’ with a bit of coffee in it.

As I walked away I turned back, smiled, and said, “Tea with milk is epic”.

She laughed.

I don’t know why.

I don’t think she knew either.

When puddings turn bad

I was in the break room at work making coffee when one of the senior managers burst through the door.  He was quite flustered and started talking loudly to one of the customer service team who thought they were going to be having a quiet coffee break.

They were wrong.

He was talking (or half shouting) about an on-going complaint we’d received from a customer who had become seriously ill whilst on holiday.

“Apparently it’s semolina poisoning!” he half shouted.

I stopped making drinks, turned and smiled, “Did you just say semolina poisoning?”

He turned to me with a face of genuine, serious concern.

“Yes”

“Really? Semolina poisoning?”

“Yes!”

Ok then.  I won’t argue.  Your education probably cost more than mine.

salmonella