Tonight, sitting in Australia, my mind (and my stomach wandered) back west to some of those delicious dishes I am craving, many of which are beloved, popular foods in the US. So I thought I’d resurrect this post to celebrate some tastes you all may know and love, with some of my new, additional comments in parentheses. If you don’t know about the foods and drinks I’ve mentioned here, get traveling and try them! I’ll be home in the states for a visit in November, so I’ll treat myself to much of what I mention below, but I’m not sure when I’ll be in the UK again sadly. It’s strange how much one starts to develop a nostalgia for those foods he or she cannot have. (And I should mention, Nathan agrees wholeheartedly with me on most of these foods, especially Cracker Barrel!!!) So here they are, in no particular order….
10. Red Lobster Cheese Biscuits
These cheesy, buttery biscuits of happiness come to you piping hot at every Red Lobster restaurant meal. I eat more of these than my actual dinner. (*addendum-After working briefly at a Red Lobster early in 2014, I may have eaten my fill of cheese biscuits. Oh, who am I kidding. BRING ON THE CHEESE ROLLS.)
9. Cabot Cheddar Cheese
Made in my home state of Vermont, this is seriously the best cheese on earth. Paired perfectly with Toasteds wheat crackers and a bottle of Long Trail Blackberry Wheat ale, Cabot cheddar is one of my favorite snacks. I don’t think UK cheese even comes close. (It doesn’t. Nor does Australian cheese.)
8. Sweet Tea
Sure, you can get some pre-sweetened bottled teas in these parts, or I suppose you could make your own, but nothing compares to the pure goodness of real Southern American sweet tea. I recommend Sonny’s BBQ & Publix for the best sweet tea in the South. God, I’m thirsty.
7. Hash browns, the best way
Oh my, isn’t that a gorgeous sight? Crispy, hot, and covered in ketchup, legit hash browns are where it’s at. These are hard to find, admittedly, even in America. McDonald’s makes a fair hash brown that comes in a patty, but these above are the real thing. They go great with eggs. (And cheese.)
6. (Speaking of breakfast), Cracker Barrel pancakes & syrup, or Cracker Barrel anything.
Cracker Barrel is delicious. They are a very country themed restaurant and gift shop, always busy on Sundays, and if you go there for breakfast/brunch, the meals are enormous. They make the best pancakes I know!
5. Three Musketeers candy bars
Ah, Three Musketeers. At Halloween, my favorite candy to find in my trick-or-treat bag was mini Three Musketeers. Milk chocolate enrobes a lighter, fluffy chocolate nougat center. It’s heavenly. (I’m not sure if I’ve seen these in Australia. Probably not.)
4. Crab Cakes
Honestly, I haven’t fully investigated whether or not crab cakes exist in the United Kingdom. Even if they do, however, I haven’t come across any, and I think America does them best, Maryland style. (Note: Crab cakes are really an American thing, though you can find the suitable ‘fish cake’ here in Oz or in the UK.)
3. Any of these flavored Dole juices
These 100% juices are healthy and incredibly yummy. I haven’t found many good juices here in the UK. I miss these Dole ones, especially Pineapple Orange Banana. (I’ve found the best juices, thus far, in the US or in parts of Western Europe.)
There are no words. If you’re not familiar, this is a Chik fil A chicken sandwich and waffle fries. Though not fully pictured, that is surely a sweet tea in the cup. Chik Fil A is an incredibly delicious fast food chain located mainly in the Southeast, though rare stores do exist in the Northeast.
1. And lastly, maybe most of all…I miss real, American grilled cheese sandwiches.
These are something I can make myself, for sure, but they aren’t to be found in restaurants. There are “toasties” in the UK, which are like toasted cheese sandwiches, but nothing matches the tempting and frighteningly greasy thing you see above. In America, we grill them on flat tops, using butter, or sometimes even mayonnaise, and they are made with cheddar or American cheese. Not the best for your health, by a long shot, but still …so good. 🙂
united kingdom (mostly Scottish) treasures
10. Macaroni pies
Behold the glory that is the macaroni pie. The Scots rival America with their love of less-than-healthy foods. They have a knack for putting anything into a pie. But indeed, macaroni (and) cheese seems to taste best within a crispy baked crust. You can buy these hot and ready at a local Gregg’s bakery for a mere 90p, or you can buy a less tasty version in the grocery store.
Britain does a great job with carbonated drinks, which I really appreciate. I love fizz! Lucozade is marketed as an energy drink, which I don’t quite understand, but it IS delicious, and very thirst quenching. My favourite flavour is Pink Lemonade (not pictured). (Update: These exist in Australia! Sadly only the orange and red kinds seem to be available, but you can find them. Also sadly, they generally cost about $4.50, which is downright outrageous.)
8. The world’s best fish & chips
Hands down, Britain is king of fish and chips. They do it all absolutely perfectly. I love the existence of chip shops, or “chippys”, as they are known. You can get an awesome fish and chips to go. Make sure you get it with vinegar, and get brown sauce for the chips. (There is also superb fish and chips to be found in Australia.)
7. Wotsits & Quavers
I’m not a huge fan of chips (known here as crisps), but the choice of crisps here includes few familiar brands or flavours, so I’ve fallen in love with Wotsits and Quavers! Wotsits are my stand-in for Cheetos puffs, and, dare I say it, I think they even outdo my old favorites. Quavers are a cheesy puffy crisp with a slightly different flavour and a fun texture. Both highly recommended for snacking! (Oh, I seriously do miss these so much! But Australia does okay with it’s ring shaped Cheezel snacks.)
Caught somewhere between an English muffin and a biscuit (in American terms), the crumpet is a delightful addition to my culinary repertoire. They heat up quickly in the grill (sort of life a toaster over attached to the main oven), and then I spread butter on them. I also recommend them with blackcurrant jam, a wonderful flavour which I haven’t seen in the States.
Cider has spoiled me. I don’t even really order beer any more, when sweet cider is everywhere. Magner’s, pictured above, is a great one. They make a pear and mixed berry cider as well, both of which are excellent. Other good ciders include Bulmer’s & Kopparberg (from Sweden). I’ve heard you can sometimes find these ciders stateside, so I’ll definitely be looking for them everywhere.
4. Bourbon Creams
Bourbon creams are the best biscuits (cookies) I have found in Scotland. Folks here love biscuits, I’m told, and these are considered on the plainer side of biscuitry, but I think they are wonderful. I can buy them at the local grocery store for only 59p. (Note from today: I just felt a mournful ache when I saw this picture. I showed it to Nathan and he also groaned. We miss you bourbon creams!)
No, not the vegetable. Here, squash is a highly concentrated juice product that you dilute with water. I think it tastes great, and it has the double benefit of forcing you to drink more water, and also saves you money!
2. Curry, curry everywhere!
Indian food is everywhere in the UK. Curry dishes are one of the most popular food items. When I’m not ordering delicious Indian takeaway from Spice of Life restaurant in Stirling, I’m making my own simple Korma recipe at home. I splice up some sweet potatoes, cook them up in a pan, add a store-bought korma curry sauce (my top picks being Lloyd Grossman’s or Sharwood’s), and then toss over rice. It tastes fantastic and doesn’t cost a lot or take long to prepare.
Scotland’s most famous food is haggis. Many tourists are reluctant to try this dish, as it does not exactly sound appetizing. Learn about Haggis!. However, I took the plunge, and realized that HAGGIS IS AMAZING. I absolutely love it, and I order it often. Haggis goes best with the traditional neeps & tatties (turnips & potatoes, mashed), and an accompanying whiskey sauce. You can also try the deep fried version, available at most chip shops.
Happy eating! (& Dreaming)
**Author’s note: These foods are nearly all terribly fattening, highly caloric, and probably not recommended for a balanced diet. Consume in moderation, friends!
Also note: This article is not representative of the Two Drifters‘ diet. We eat healthy most of the time. 🙂