I know you're all reeling from the shock of that first statement, but it's true. I was there the other afternoon, when I espied a little nook with the words "Used Book Sale" on a small sign which had been posted on the wall.
So I went back there and there were about five or six shelves full of books, priced to go - 10 cents each! Well, you know me, I love a good bargain. So I went into full 'rooting-around-like-a-truffle-hunting-pig' mode, and finally ended up with seven books. They were:
A Pizza The Size Of The Sun by Jack Prelutsky,
So You Want To Be President,
The Kid Who Ran For President,
and lastly, a fantastic book from the 80s called Passport To Great Britain. I HAD to have this one! It has some lovely dated hairstyles and such in it. It was published in 1985 so you know it's a hoot. Has such great pics in it as this one, of some typical teen mags.
I remember that Frankie issue.
And this one:
Yes, the TVTimes, the equivalent of TV guide for the independent channels, which at the time were ITV and the still-new Channel 4. The show advertised on the front, Roll Over Beethoven, was thankfully short-lived but starred the ever-lovely Liza Goddard (phwooaarr!!) and Nigel Planer (better known as Neil from The Young Ones).
I turned to the page about Shops and shopping and saw this delightful picture of typical Brit food circa 1985, which took me back, I must say:
Note the bottle of milk, delivered to your door, now sadly becoming less and less common. Also the Arctic Roll, back there between the paper towels and the Corn Flakes. This wonderful invention is basically a cylinder of vanilla ice cream with a cakey outer layer. Mmmm! On top of the paper towels is a box of 4 frozen Beefburgers. Basically hamburger patties, but we Brits usually grill these and eat them sans bun. In front of the Campbell's Soup there is a Bowyers Pork Pie. What is a pork pie, I hear you cry? Well. let's take a closer look at one, shall we?
As you can see, a pork pie consists of roughly chopped pork and pork jelly sealed inside a pie crust known as a hot water crust. How they make it, I dunno, but it's delish. It is served cold. It is a cousin to the Gala Pie, which looks like this:
Basically a big pork pie made in a large loaf tin, with hard-boiled eggs embedded in the meat so that when you slice it you get some egg in the middle. Mmm protein! Yeah baby!
So when I saw this picture it inspired me: Let's talk about food! (It always comes back to food, doesn't it?) What are some of the typical British foods that perhaps we can't get over here on this side of the pond? What are my faves? What do I miss? And what are some British-food myths that need clearing up? Well, to explain British meals: Breakfast is breakfast. Lunch is dinner. Dinner is tea. Got it? No? Yes? maybe?
This is a ready-made trifle. Normally I would make one myself, but really, if it was just for one person, I see no harm in getting your trifle on at Sainsbury's.
Ambrosia Creamed Rice. Rice pudding in canned form. It's actually delicious, even though the premise sounds suspect. I used to eat it cold, straight out of the can. No added toppings or flavors needed. I am a rice pud purist.
This, my friend, is a Wagon Wheel. A wonderful conglomeration of cookie, marshmallow and chocolate. And it's pretty big, too. One usually was able to find these in large numbers at the local chippy, which was perfect, as you needed something round and chocolatey to finish off the meal of cod & chips. Here is a typical chip shop:
As well as fish, chips and Wagon Wheels, one might also find here saveloys, which are kind of like a big hot dog, mushy peas (a Northern favourite but one of mine too), small meat pies such as Steak & Kidney or Steak & Mushroom, pickled eggs, and pickled gherkins (aka pickles).
Now, let's talk bacon. In Britain there are basically two kinds of bacon - streaky bacon, similar to the anorexic little rashers you get here in the States:
And back bacon, infinitely better, a lot more meaty.
They don't make this one anymore, at least not in the UK. Chocolate with rum flavored raisins. Fantastic. Note the price.
Toffo is basically toffee in little round individually wrapped pieces. Almost like Rolo without the chocolate.
Yes, they are pies in a can. Lovely. Just open the top with a can opener and pop them in the oven. Lovely flaky pastry.
This sexy vixen is advertising Cadbury's Flake. These ads were very popular in the 70s. Anyone who has known me for more than a little while is likely to have heard me occasionally warble a tune or two from TV's yesteryear, and this is one of them. "Only the crumbliest, flakiest chocolate/Tastes like chocolate never tasted before."
Cresta was an amazing soda, this really did have a creamier foam than regular fizzy drinks. Hence the tagline.
Smiths Crisps, one of the biggest names in snacks in the UK. Here is a pack with a picture of Slade on it, for some reason.
Here's a table groaning with vintage 70s potato chip-type stuff. Is your favourite in here? Mine is. Rancheros.
There's nothing so refreshing on a hot Summer's day like a tall Pimm's. Makes you feel like you're at Centre Court, Wimbledon, watching the finals, or at the Henley Regatta. Pimm's No.1 Cup is a gin-based brew containing herbs and citrus. Generally it is mixed with English-style lemonade (usually R.White's) and served on ice with various fruits and a sprig of mint.
Marmite. a very interesting spread, quite strong in flavor, one of those things that you can never quite decide whether you like or not.
Alright. Tea. This is a Brown Betty, pretty much the 'official' teapot of the UK. I would tell you how to make a proper pot of tea, but I feel it is something better experienced and learned hands-on, reverentially, than reading a set of instructions. Making a proper pot of tea is an almost religious experience.
I will say a word or two, though, about some common misconceptions concerning tea. Tea the drink and tea the meal are not the same thing. Tea refers to the early evening meal, but some call it dinner or supper. High tea also means the late afternoon or early evening meal, but most people just call it tea. In the USA High tea has come to mean formal tea or tea party, but this is not used in Britain.
Alright, carry on.