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If You Had to Leave, What Would You Miss?

I'm from New England and will be going to Old England for a week with my family to help me move into university. I got to talking about the food from home that I'll miss while I'm at school (clam chowder, steamers, lobster, good burgers, good pizza) and decided that the best thing to do while we're in England is to seek out all of the foods that people from England miss when *they* leave home.

Taking a couple stabs in the dark I came up with chip shops, indian food, pasties, and good beer, but I thought I would ask here. I should specify that we'll be in London and Oxford, so haggis and welsh rarebit are probably out (unless they can be had in London/Oxford.)

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So, when you leave the country, whats the stuff that you miss? And where's the best place to get it?

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  1. You can find welsh rarebit all over England.

    What I miss when I go back to America is the great flavors of crisps (potato chips) we have in England. They are amazing. I also miss the much better chocolate goodies. Don't get me started on what I sometimes miss from the States.

    Good luck with your studies!

    1. I would miss the sheer range and diversity of foods available and amazing number of places/ dishes that have remain to be explored -- it's plenty raw material for chowhounding that may be unavailable anywhere else.

      (Although having lived much longer in Asia and America, and having been here for less than 3 years, I wouldn't qualify as a person from England).

      1. A lot depends on where you go. Moving to China from England for a year, I found the lack of palatable bread almost unbearable at times. Likewise cheese. These are obvious things that I'm sure you're not looking for, just making note of.

        Nevertheless in terms of things you can only really get properly in the UK I'm less sure. Well, apart from in South Asia, its hard to get better Indian food than in England. British beer? Yes. Scotch eggs (or is that just me?). Cheese and pickle sandwiches (or do other countries do that too?). Sausage rolls (see the Ginger Pig at Borough Market). Ginger beer (see Fentimans). Lea and Perrins (the saver of many a disastrous meal). HP sauce. Pickled onions (not for everybody). Most definitely Cream Teas.

        Actually, I think one of the biggest things would be all the English puddings. Call me unsophisticated if you will, but there's something comforting about crumble, trifles, bread and butter puddings etc. that I've never experienced abroad. I think I may have to declare us the Kings of desserts.

        Ah the comforts - if I wasn't so anti-monarchy I'd probably have burst into "God Save the Queen" by now.

        5 Replies
        1. re: chief1284

          a good english fry-up with decent bacon, sausages, egg, beans, black pudding etc... and a good cup of tea.. What i missed when i was away for over a year....

          1. re: foreignmuck

            Tea, definitely, with proper, fresh milk.

            1. re: greedygirl

              Depending on where I'm going, definitely breakfasts and tea. Tea almost anywhere else in the world is rubbish, mainly because of Lipton teabags and UHT milk. I found breakfast in SE Asia the hardest, as I like decent bread and eggs and butter in the mornings - though some of the patisserie in Vietnam and Laos gave me my Western breakfast fix.

              Would never miss an English breakfast in America though, as long as I remembered to order coffee not tea with my pancakes, french toast, eggs benedict, pastries, ooh.... though proper dairy seems harder to find in much of the US, and I do miss cheese and butter when I'm there.

              1. re: gembellina

                In SE Asia I just go with the flow and have noodle soup etc. I miss it when I come back to England!

                1. re: greedygirl

                  At first yes, but after a few weeks I was just desperate for poached eggs on toast! And now of course sometimes I get cravings for pho in the mornings which are not easily satisfied at 7.30am in suburban south London...

        2. - Good cheddar: Keen's, Montgomery etc. Hell, I even miss it when I go to France.

          - Similarly, proper wholemeal tin loaves - not the puffed-up supermarket stuff, just some good homemade bread that makes proper slices of toast. Found bread of that ilk in the States to have sugar in it.

          - Back bacon.

          I'm a cheese and bacon sandwich kind of guy, it seems.

          4 Replies
          1. re: bodessa

            Homemade wholemeal bread has sugar in it. I'm finding all these hits on the U.S. food a bit hard to understand, or maybe it's just that tourists don't know where to go to find the right things they miss. All big cities have bakeries with proper, homemade bread, plus good cheese shops with British and other varieties. gembellina above says she misses butter. There's no good butter in the States?!?!

            1. re: zuriga1

              Don't get me wrong - I love American food, for the most part! Not that there's no good butter, but where you could probably find decent butter and cheese in a Tesco here, it has always seemed to me that while there's a huge array of butter-like products in American supermarkets, there's very little that I would recognise as butter. Obviously there are famers markets and delis in both places where one can buy artisan butter from magic cows but I meant in the more everyday setting, without having to find specialist makers/importers.

              1. re: zuriga1

                Sorry zuriga, I didn't really have the States in mind when answering this, so shouldn't have added the bread comment. Was more thinking of Europe (where the cheese counters tend to be very nationalistic!) and Africa.

                However, i still found American wholemeal bread too sweet... but I'll drop that now!

                But you're right, of course, about tourists missing the best bread shops/delis etc - part of the joy of moving to a new neighbourhood is finding those little aces in the pack that most people don't know about...

                1. re: bodessa

                  No offense taken. I'm in a particularly bad mood today. :-) Sadly, we all generalize way too much about most things in life. I was lucky to have family in all parts of the States most of my life, so I got to try and see maybe more than the average person.

                  I would also miss how inexpensive smoked salmon seems here vs the U.S. I love the choices of international goodies in the UK and peas and potatoes taste the way they're supposed to!

            2. I'm a non-native, been here just a few years. Maybe the best way to go at this is to offer a list of the things I have come to like very much, some of which are probably obvious and some of which surprised me a little:

              --Pubs. They're not just for drinking, but they are of course also fine for that and much of the beer is good. But get to know your local and it is the place to meet the people who live around and find out what is going on.
              --Samphire. Usually sold at fishmongers, it is a succulent coastal plant (there are three varieties, the ones you will most often find are rock samphire and marsh samphire) that is just fine boiled a short time. Fish places will give you a little pile of it with your fish, but I also like it mixed with boiled potatoes and a bit of olive oil as a salad.
              --Duck. Plentiful and cheap. Most supermarkets will have 2 leg and thigh pieces for under £3.
              --Turkish food. It was hard to find good Turkish food in the US, but at least in London there are loads of good places.
              --Some ordinary grocery items like potatoes, cabbage and butter are of surprisingly good quality.

              This is at least a start. But you will probably also notice that (I think) the average person has a lot less fascination with food and its variety than in the US. This is balanced by an insistence on things that are good, simple and fresh, which is fine as long as they actually are.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Gordito

                How on earth do you quantify your last statement? Given that we on these boards have a much-higher-than-average interest in food and probably seek out like-minded people?

                1. re: greedygirl

                  I wouldnt claim to be able to quantify it, it is more of an atmospheric impression. Being wrong on the point would be fine with me.