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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Confusion at the coffee house

There was confusion in Starbucks this morning.  The woman who was calling out the finished beverages at the collection area had the loosest grasp of English.

“Vebbi capparan cheeno fomackle?”

There was no response.  Instead we were all looking at each other baffled as this small woman held up a large paper cup full of mystery.

“Vebbi capparan cheeno fomackle?”

Still nothing from us.  It didn’t help that we were all in need of coffee, which may or may not have been ready.

The small woman looked at the name scrawled on the cup and carefully shouted, “Mackle?”

The man next to me said “Michael?”

“Yes, dis is faryoo”.

“Is that a cappuccino?” he enquired.

“Yes, vebbi capparan cheeno”.

And as Michael picked up his not-so-hot-anymore cup of coffee and left, I realised that ‘Vebbi capparan cheeno fomackle’ meant ‘Venti cappuccino for Michael’.

It didn’t stop there.

“Gradday hansel nub skinnle latty foserra?” (Grande hazelnut skinny latte for Sarah)

“Smor mericano wiz is press shotten exta hor mik fomerry?” (Small Americano with an espresso shot and extra hot milk for Mary)

“Lar feeter coff foffipp?” (Large filter coffee for Phillip)

“Tea fomanderlin”.

Actually, this was the easiest one to understand.  After all, it was tea.  It didn’t matter what words she murdered after saying ‘tea’, the owner (Madeline) knew it was for her.

There is always one who goes to an American coffee chain in England to have tea; the most English of hot drinks.

“Wozdee wul kuh mintoo?”

coffee cat

Makes my blood boil

The office I work in is very modern and contemporary.  We have funky red sofas, LED TVs dotted around on the brilliantly white walls and more glass and steel than an episode of Buck Rogers.

One of the contemporary and modern fixtures we have is a tap in the kitchen that provides boiling hot water…on tap.  It’s perfect for making a brew quickly and so it should be; I believe it cost around £2000.

And yet we still have a kettle.

Eh?

I’ve lost count the amount of times I’ve walked into the kitchen, said hello to the idiots waiting for the kettle to boil, made my drink with the tap and then said goodbye to the idiots still waiting for the kettle to boil.

I ask them why they’re not using the tap and I get inane answers like:

“The tap doesn’t get it hot enough”

Really?  So the billowing steam coming off the water suggests it’s lukewarm does it?  I dare you to run your hand or genitals under it.  No?  Why not?

“It’s just what I’m used to; the water tastes better from the kettle anyway”

Bullshit. 

If anything, the tap tastes better because it’s filtered and it stays hot rather than being boiled over and over and over again.  And besides, who really gives a smoking shit about the flavour of the water, considering you’re infusing it with whatever shit you’re drinking.  And you’re probably making it wrong.

https://headinablender.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/fancy-a-cuppa/

https://headinablender.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/you-fcoffee/

And what’s more frustrating is when they simply look at me and shrug.

What can I say to that?  There’s no reasoning with stupid.  I hate smashing into a wall of pillock.

But above all this; above all the reasons and blank faced idiocy there’s something I’ve observed that really grits my shit. 

Once they’ve made their hot drink, they put it in the microwave to get it hotter.

I’m sorry, hotter??

How fucking hot do you need it to be?  Surely when it’s bubbling away like a witch’s cauldron it’s not wise to introduce it to your soft fleshy insides?  No, of course it isn’t, which is why they proceed to sip it very gently, blowing on it to cool it down.

What?  Sorry, what?  I just don’t get it.

Yesterday I challenged one of them as he took his drink, now at the temperature of the sun, out of the microwave.  I asked him why he was subjecting his already piping hot beverage to microwaves and he simply replied with, “it wasn’t hot enough”.

He then started to sip it tentatively and carefully.

“Don’t you dare blow on it”, I subtly warned.

“What?” he asked stupidly.

“Why make it hotter just to blow on it to cool it down?”

He looked at me blankly, as if this somehow hadn’t occurred to him.

“What’s the point in zapping it in the microwave if you’re making it too hot to drink?”

“Erm…” he intelligently replied.

“Don’t you dare blow on it, or slurp it” I continued, “I want to see full on sips with full on lip contact”

He did exactly that, wincing the whole time as he fought to hold the microwave-hot ceramic handle of the mug.

Even the Americans don’t do this.  That’s how bad it’s got.

Right, I’m off now to start a fire in my garden so I can cook my dinner using random sticks as skewers, rather than utilise my fully loaded kitchen with gas cooker, oven, pans and utensils.

Because, you know, it’s just what I’m used to.

monkey shit pc

You f’coffee?

Following my recent entry about the correct way to make tea…

https://headinablender.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/fancy-a-cuppa/

…I’ve since been drawn into the great instant coffee debate.

In my Oscar winning portrayal of a person who gives a shit, I pretended to listen to the same tedious issue of whether you put the milk in first, or the water.

Frankly, I opt for the coffee, but hey….I don’t want to appear picky.

Preparing a mug of instant coffee is even easier than tea. The word ‘instant’ is a bit of a clue.

Repeat after me….

Spoon the coffee into a mug
Add the hot water and stir
Add milk and sugar/sweeteners to taste.

It makes my brain hurt to think that some people still can’t get this right. It surprises me that they’re able to dress themselves in the morning or brush their teeth properly. Most of them have toothpaste in their hair.

These Costa cockheads believe the perfect instant coffee is achieved by putting the cold milk in first before adding the hot water. If you attempt to educate these caffeinated cretins they resort to the dumbest argument in the history of the history of arguments.

“Boiling water burns the coffee which is why I put the milk in first”

Excuse me, what??

“I said boiling water burns the cof…”

Yes I heard you. I’ve just never had to process that amount of stupid in such a short space of time.

Instant coffee is designed to have boiling water poured on it. It’s not possible to burn something designed to have boiling water poured on it. Apparently their argument extends to the suggestion you wait until the water has cooled a bit, reducing the validity of the term ‘instant’.

It’s possible to burn REAL coffee made from ground up coffee beans, but not instant coffee.

This is usually met with a derisive sneer from those ‘in the know’.

Well, you unpercolated pricks, this is how instant coffee is created.

The coffee beans are roasted to temperatures in excess of 165 °C, which is a lot fucking hotter than your kettle, but I’ll continue….

The beans are then ground finely so they become soluble and are percolated in water at temperatures of 155 to 180°C. Again, really fucking hot.

“Oh no….what if they burn the coffee??”

Idiots.

Then it’s spray dried or freeze dried, ready to be rehydrated by the boiling hot water from your kettle….or clogged up with cold milk so it can’t dissolve properly.

But don’t take my word for it, look it up. In fact, here…I’ll save you the time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant_coffee

And I’m sorry, but saying the flavour is better when the milk goes in first is bollocks. No-one likes those little islands of clumped up coffee swirling in their drink.

Oh, and your t-shirt is on inside out.

twatmug

Fancy a cuppa?

Being British, we tend to default a lot of our inane smalltalk to three tedious topics; the weather (and how shit it is), our health (which some people go into FAR too much detail about, including aches, pains and various forms of discharge) and how work is.  The latter is usually answered with one of the following gems:

“Ah, y’know, work is work”
“It pays the bills”
“Knackering”
“Same old, same old”

It’s never answered with:

“I fucking love it and everything about it!  My boss is awesome!  Here, have some money!”

It should be answered with:

“Work?  Work!!? That soul sucking pit of mindless oppression is slowly driving me to drink.  The mindnumbingly malignant fuckwits I call colleagues only serve to remind me that I’d rather be somewhere else, covered in jam, armpit deep in a fire ant colony, licking piss off a thistle.  But thanks for asking”.

I wonder how that would be received?

The other less common, but certainly contentious and inevitable subject, is tea making.  I’ve lost count the amount of times I’ve been drawn into debates about the correct way to make tea.  It’s surprising how strongly people feel about the process which begs the question; ‘why don’t you just get a life?’

I’ve been told on many occasions that I make it wrong.  Wrong?  I’ve been berated for the order in which I add the various components.  I’ve also not given a shit each time, but still they push on.

I personally make it like this:
Teabag in.
Hot water in.
Stir and squash the bag to let it brew.
Add milk.
Squeeze the teabag and remove it.
Add sugar or sweeteners to taste.

Simple. 

And yet I’ve been told you should put the milk in before the water.  Before?  Are you fucking serious?  Firstly, tea only brews in hot liquid (which milk isn’t).  Secondly, the milk clogs up the perforations in the teabags resulting in a shit brew.  Thirdly, don’t be a twat.

But what gets me the most is I also get told that I make a superb cup of tea!  Doesn’t that mean that I’m doing it right and the rest of you can suck it?

Hmm let me think, er yes it does. 

Especially when the person complimenting me on my tea asks me how I do it, only to tell me I’m doing it wrong.

There’s another solution, you make the sodding tea.  I frankly don’t care who makes it as long as it’s not me.

One sweetener please.

shitbrew