24 November 2010

Thanksgiving Feast

Photos from a recent walk at Wimbledon Common
 Tomorrow is American Thanksgiving. A fact I keep having to remind myself of. I am in full realisation now of how necessary marketing is to holiday-making. Haha. But the US' marketing ploys and/or swindles are not the point of this post. 

No, this post is about food. As in food comparisons between the US and the UK. 

You see right now, I am in the process of making my Thanksgiving "feast" for myself, my flatmates, coworkers, friends, etc. Which consists of me baking my mother's amazing pumpkin chipper bread - except in the form of teeny muffins. Yum! What a classic. It's a pumpkin bread with chocolate chips and all the spices that scream AUTUMN!!!! (like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc). 

Regardless of the fact that I do not eat turkey and therefore do not cook turkey and regardless of the fact that this is the only real celebration I get because I am working tomorrow, these are going to be good. (I just had a 'sample' *wink)

But they are not amazing. They are not exactly like back home. I think this has to do with a few factors.

1. Ovens: Over here, ovens are in degrees Celsius. Well, most are. But they are in 5 degree increments, which if you have ever converted Celsius to Fahrenheit, you know that my oven temp will never be the exact same here as it will back home. But then there's the fact that I have a gas fan oven. Which comes in numbers. Right now, I am using gas number 4, which according to this chart, is equivalent to 350F. But there's still something off about my muffins.

2. It could have to do with measurements. One of the best thing about the UK, at least by the average American standard, is that they use a lot of similar measurements...miles, feet, pounds (even though they through the odd 'stone' in there), and more. But with cooking, they use grams. And let me tell you, it is difficult to get 1 cup of butter (what the recipe calls for) out of 250g (what I have. FYI the conversion is 229.something grams). So, there's always something a little off. 

3. Or it could have to do with the fact that its missing key ingredients. (not any of the normal ones. I really think it would be difficult to change flour, eggs and even baking soda aka bicarbonate of soda between countries. I could be surprised though. If so, I will let you know) In this case, its the walnuts. You see, the store I went to to get the ingredients (good ol' Sainsburys) did not have walnuts. Granted it was a small shop, but this is quite common here in the UK. Which is the actual point of this post... (and actually walnuts don't make a lot of difference in the recipe).

In the US, we become accustomed to always having items and always having options. Lots of options. We can choose between 4 different brands of chocolate chips, 6 brands of flour, and who knows how many different nuts. Well, at Sainsburys, they had slivered almonds or ground almonds. Thats it. And that is quite normal. It is normal to walk into a supermarket and find that they have run out of most of the fruits and veggies, or pasta sauce, or vegetarian soup, or loaves of bread. Stores here have limited stock. 

But here's the real kicker. While it can be slightly frustrating to have to change your dinner plans based on lack of ingredients available, it really is not that annoying. Do we need 20 different brands of toothpaste? Really, how many types of butter do you need? I am not here to argue that the US is too capitalist to the point where it just gets insane (standing in the condiment aisle trying to decide between heinz ketchup and whoknowswhatotherbrand for 5 minutes is just a waste of time), although I do think that. I am here to say that walking into a grocery store to find that there are no bell peppers makes you appreciate just that much more when they do. 

My pumpkin chipper muffins are not ruined because Sainsburys did not have any walnuts. No, they are the food version of the fact that I am thankful that I live here in the UK for the time being, getting to experience new things, seeing how a 'Western' nation can be quite different - and appreciating that difference! -, and making great new friends I get to share my almost amazing muffins with. 

1 comment:

  1. Ange - love the blog. Very insightful and so true. Gee wait till you get to Cooma and see how limiting our supermarkets are! ha ha.
    What is really missing from your mothers pumpkin chipper bread (sounds yummy by the way) is the love you mum puts into them when she bakes! Enjoy your Thanks Giving in UK. Cheryl