Expat to Expat Q&A: Food

This is the second installment of Expat to Expat 
on the Q&A: Food

1. What is your favorite food tradition in your new country?  
The 'Sunday Roast' of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roasted or mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, and sometimes stuffing. It like a less grand version of  Christmas dinner and my favourite thing to eat at the pub on a Sunday with my family. 

2. Where have you traveled to that you thought had the best food to offer?
Italy. Honestly I will nicely kick and scream before I have to eat Italian food in the USA because it 99.9% fails in comparison.  What I love about the food in Italy is that it is as diverse as its dialects so for example pizzas in Florence are like a cracker crust, pizzas in the birth place of Naples practically melt in your mouth.  Most of the food I have eaten in Italy (away from the touristy trap restaurants of course. Stay away from these as you will not only be over charged but it less quality) is made of simple but great ingredients.  Italian food in the US always seems to have to have something crazy with it like giant meatballs or chicken, crazy cream sauces, or covered in cheeses.  To be fair the best food and house wine I have had in many places in Italy has been in small hole in the wall restaurants or places where the locals frequent.  Plus any country that boasts gelaterias that carry a multitude of gelato flavours is great in my book!  

3. What is the typical breakfast where you currently live and would you eat it back home?
For my kids it is porridge made from porridge oats and with a little honey and cinnamon typically.  I actually grew up on this breakfast staple as well.  Here in England the typical breakfast is the traditional 'Full English' or a 'Full Monty'.  This includes back bacon, poached or fried eggs, fried or grilled tomatoes, fried mushrooms, fried bread or toast with butter, sausages, baked beans, and a mug of tea.  If you are extra lucky your breakfast will include my favourite black pudding, which is a blood sausage, or bubble and squeak. Bubble and squeak is made by mixing mashed potatoes with any left over vegetables and fried.  I have to add that the bacon in England is not like the bacon you get back in the US. In the US it is thin strips and sometimes if it is on your plate it is more of a taste factor and less of a 'fill you up' factor.  Here the cut of bacon is thick like a slice of ham at Easter and the taste puts American bacon to shame. 

4. What type of restaurant, either style or type of food, do you think is lacking in your new home?
Mexican. By mexican, I mean the type of mexican food that can be found in San Diego, California where the taco shells do not resemble the 'El Paso' store bought brand but the home made round tortillas.  Also boasting very spicy options. Mexican restaurants are very few here and the one we went too looked like it was catering to Americans who needed a break from only ordering fish and chips at every meal. 

5. Do you think your home expat home has a food everyone should try?
Not a particular food, but that you must go to a curry house, a typical Indian/Bangladeshi restaurant or takeway. Their menus can be quite extensive, so feel free to try something new every time.  They are to England what mexican restaurants are to the USA.  It was actually one of the things I was most looking forward too before we moved to England. Perfect for those nights that you do not want to cook. 

Actually now that I think of it I think everyone should try Cassava, it is a large white root and large source of carbohydrates. If not cooked and eaten it is highly toxic. If cooked it tastes amazing and is a perfect alternative to a white potato.  It is one of my favourites!

6. What is your favorite dish to prepare that you would never have made back home?
Being that I have always moved and have not had a 'home' per se I do not know how to quite answer this question as an expat normally would.  However from an eating stand point, blood sausage is something both my husband and I thought was initially gross. I remember seeing this before and in other countries, like Germany, growing up in Europe.  However we have both had it here and have cooked it here for our breakfast at home and we love it.  Referred here as Black pudding, it is a type of sausage made by cooking blood or dried blood with a filler until it is thick enough to congeal when cooled.  It sounds revolting to me, however the way it looks prepared and the way it tastes, I would never had known thats what I was eating.  It is so tasty and a favourite with my sons as well. 

Also I have always loved 'Beans on Toast' which is not like american baked beans, but the English Heinz beans.  It is a favourite dish that is hard to prepare in the US because I have to find an British shop of imports.  Here it is a great staple especially for my boys' tea. 

7. What is the oddest food in your new country?
In the neighbouring country of Scotland of the UK, I still find haggis to be quite odd.  Then again I have never tried it. Marmite is quite odd, but it is loved at home house on buttered crumpets or toast. 

8. If you could have a crate of one type of food sent to you from your home country, what would it be?
Hawaii and the food from the shrimp truck up in North Shore. 

9. What three foods remind you of summer?
Since we lived in Hawaii, which was like summer year round, these are the three foods that remind me of Summer:

  • Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup. Though a soup, we ate this sometimes twice a week in Hawaii. It was also perfect cure all.
  • Fro Yo.  These were all over Hawaii and still popping up new chains while we were on the island.  I loved ordering the plain yogurt flavour and topping it with fruit, granola, and some mini chocolate chips.
  • Shaved Ice.  Especially the kind found in Hawaii that is not icy at all, but almost like eating finally grained snow.  You can get it there over beans and covered in condensed milk. 
10. What food from your new country are you surprised to enjoy?
Meat.  In California and Hawaii where my husband and I lived before we ate a lot of vegetarian or vegan options. I liked meat, but was not crazy about it.  When you read about how food is processed in the US, it really does not make you want to eat that much of it.  When we moved to England my husband, who already loves to cook, was really enjoying the ingredients he could find just at our grocery store or local butchers.  We now eat mainly paleo which is mostly protein/meat and vegetables.  I've probably eaten more meat in the two years we have lived in England than any two years in the last ten years I lived in the US. That surprises me and I'm still surprised how much I enjoy the way the meat here tastes.  Theres something to say about the ingredients you can get and how it can make or break a meal. 

Bonus:  Where was your favorite place you ever took a summer vacation to?
I did a vacation with my parents where we toured all over Europe using the trains.  One of our many destinations was Oslo, Norway and it still stick out in my mind as one of the most amazing and beautiful places I have ever been too in my life.  I remember getting of the train and stopping at a scenic restaurant outside to enjoy strawberries and sparkling water and loving our destination. I really look forward to returning there soon with my husband and sons. 

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  1. So fun to read your answers and like Belinda said it seems we all miss good Mexican food! When I lived in London I loved a good Sunday roast and the feeling of everyone in the pub savoring the last bits of the weekend.

  2. This makes me miss food in the UK! I loved Sunday roast and the full English breakfast at all of the B&Bs we stayed at. We also had two or three Indian restaurants we went to all the time. Seriously, the best food ever!

    And you're right about the Mexican food... it sucks! We were craving it once and went to some restaurant in the Aberdeen mall... biggest mistake ever. Disgusting.

  3. It's funny how one of the most important things about a culture is it's food. In fact, when we travel to a different country here in Europe, one of the first things we want to do is try the "local fare". I don't know if I miss "American Food" since I live on an Army base. I miss American drinks. As in FREE ice water. A big glass of ice water with a straw. And none of this gas or bubbles. Still water. Cold. Ah....

  4. Wow!! I am so intrigued by some of these dishes. Some of them are making my mouth water and look absolutely delicious, and some others kind of frighten me. It's so cool though!

  5. Some of these dishes look really good! We send our friends in England seasonings and sauces from Taco Bell to hold them over until they visit us again :) They LOVE Mexican food!

  6. This post basically features all of my favourite foods (with the exception of baked beans, I try to like them but just can't, I think it is the smell)! This is every food dream I have ever had come true, all at once, and I now can't decide what I am craving!!

  7. WOW, some of these meals look so delicious! xoxo

  8. Being from New Mexico I am a massive Mexican food snob. Most of it is abysmal in England. But if you and the husband are in London I recommend Wahaca and La Bodega Negra (except Bodega Negra is like a speak-easy, you have to go through a sex shop to find the restaurant downstairs so it's not super kid friendly.) xx

  9. that photo of the Sunday roast and yorkshire puddings just made me melt... my favorite!!! I grew up on family dinners like that!

  10. It's funny, the UK has always been seen as having terrible food, but actually it's improving in leaps and bounds.
    I second as Italy as the best though, and OH those little hole in the wall places with their pasta & house wine...

  11. Things I love: Yorkshire Pudding, a Full English and a good curry :)


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