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    Karen F's Avatar
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    So awful I just had to share...

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    As some of you may know I am an American expat, now permanently residing in England (married to a British citizen). I live in the greater Birmingham area but work in Coventry, which is south, in Warwickshire.

    A few months ago this place sprung up, rather like a toadstool, in one of the shopping arcades:

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    I'm not the best photographer, and I was getting funny looks so I didn't want to linger too long, but this is a storefront papered with (American) junkfood wrappers. I refuse to go in, but last night I did look at their website. It just gets better. Take a look:

    4th of July

    Above all, look at the section for "gluten free" items.

    Grok wept.

    What is especially frustrating for me is that I know that there are wonderful American foods. I'm from Seattle, and I so miss razor clams, butter clams, Dungeness crab, Coho and Chinook salmon, outstanding local vegetables and berries (not that they're easily transportable, but that's kind of the point -- they're local!. (Or for that matter, if we're talking about the occasional sinful pleasure, handmade Dilettante chocolates!)

    And every part of the US has its own wonderful local ingredients and food specialty items.

    But places like this stupid little shop perpetuate the message that the marketers and media have started, and help make people here think that this .... garbage (refraining from calling it something more accurate but less polite!) is what American food is all about.

    Unfortunately, for far too many people I suppose it is what it is all about. The good old Standard American Diet.

    Lucky Charms, anyone? Maybe washed down with some corn syrup?

    Rant over. Sorry.

  2. #2
    Tawny's Avatar
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    Haha! Well, i guess those foods technically are gluten-free I hope you are able to get some good, local foods there in Birmingham.

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    I know your pain. I lived in the Netherlands for 10 years and while I longed for "American" food these shops did nothing for me. What I wanted was Cuban coffee, Louisiana hot sauce, real dill pickles, and yes, the local seafood I ate in Florida. I never ate any of this stuff before I moved overseas and I didn't want it then. I was always amazed when reading expat boards how many people bought this crap. If I was going to eat sweets I could get much better ones than the packaged garbage sold in them.

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    Karen F's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tawny View Post
    Haha! Well, i guess those foods technically are gluten-free I hope you are able to get some good, local foods there in Birmingham.
    Yes, I can! In fact, I'm delighted as I have just found a farm reasonably close that actually has reasonably priced grass fed beef, pork and lamb. Not "organic" per se but I talked to the owner at a farmers market on Thursday and she guarantees no antibiotics and no growth hormones anywhere near her animals. So I've got a nice little "topside" roast in the fridge right now from her farm which I'm going to cook tomorrow. If it's good I may talk to her about buying in larger quantities.

    And...I also scored a wild rabbit yesterday in a local butcher shop! Having that for dinner tonight! With savoy cabbage, mustard cream sauce and (fanfare) bacon! (Bacon here is really good!) Can't wait.

    (Do miss my salmon, though. Sniff. )

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    Adrianag's Avatar
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    The sad thing is how American fast food and industrial food has corrupted other countries as well.

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    breadsauce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karen F View Post
    Yes, I can! In fact, I'm delighted as I have just found a farm reasonably close that actually has reasonably priced grass fed beef, pork and lamb. Not "organic" per se but I talked to the owner at a farmers market on Thursday and she guarantees no antibiotics and no growth hormones anywhere near her animals. So I've got a nice little "topside" roast in the fridge right now from her farm which I'm going to cook tomorrow. If it's good I may talk to her about buying in larger quantities.

    And...I also scored a wild rabbit yesterday in a local butcher shop! Having that for dinner tonight! With savoy cabbage, mustard cream sauce and (fanfare) bacon! (Bacon here is really good!) Can't wait.

    (Do miss my salmon, though. Sniff. )

    Marks and Spencer food often have line caught Alaskan salmon - on offer. When it is 2 for 1 it is a good buy! I get masses and freeze it . When it is not on offer - I wait until it is. Sainsbury also often has wild Alaskan salmon.

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    Magic Fingers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by breadsauce View Post
    Marks and Spencer food often have line caught Alaskan salmon - on offer. When it is 2 for 1 it is a good buy! I get masses and freeze it . When it is not on offer - I wait until it is. Sainsbury also often has wild Alaskan salmon.
    I was just going to suggest Sainsbury also. Like you said, market days might be a good choice. Every time I go back to Chesham I love market days. I hope you liked the roast.

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    zoebird's Avatar
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    well, there's a shop here "cool brittania" that sells british junk foods to expats now in NZ. so, i get it.

    our expat message board was just asking about where to get "irish spring" soap because her DH won't use anything else. seriously? anyway, it was funny.

    i think for a lot of folks, these would be amazing treats to have on occasion if they aren't available where you are currently living. yes, they are junk, and no, they are not cuisine from a local place. i think that's part of it?

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    Owly's Avatar
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    I can't eat them because of the gluten, but sherbet fountains are a major treat for my British immigrant family. Considering they're almost impossible to get here, it's a silly indulgence once or twice a year. Same thing with Terry's Oranges (although they're now available in regular stores here rather than in the import shop). I can see how if there's something you really miss from home, you'd be excited to find it, even if it was junk. A lot of it is childhood nostalgia. I know I have a weakness for Creme Eggs despite the sicky sweet nature of the things because when I was growing up, my grandmother would buy them on sale after Easter and hide them away, and then sometime mid-summer I'd be outside climbing trees and she'd surprise me with one. I don't eat many of them, but I do have to have one every Easter, and I think I'd try to hunt them out if I lived where they weren't commonly available.
    “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

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    Karen F's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by breadsauce View Post
    Marks and Spencer food often have line caught Alaskan salmon - on offer. When it is 2 for 1 it is a good buy! I get masses and freeze it . When it is not on offer - I wait until it is. Sainsbury also often has wild Alaskan salmon.
    Yes, M&S is a good resource for a number of things. My local Sainsbury's, as you and Magic Fingers also noted, pretty reliably has the wild Alaskan Salmon which I do buy. Bloody expensive it is, too, but I feel better about that than the (pretty dreadful) farmed varieties now on offer.

    The good news is ... I have scored a FREE chest freezer from a co-worker who wants it out of her garage now that her kids have left home. This is turning into a bit of a marathon undertaking, creating space for it, moving our temporarily disabled Eunos roadster (a Mazda Miata, for those of you in North America!) out of the way so that the freezer can be moved into our shed, etc). But once it is there and up and running, YES! I can buy full animals and load up on good salmon when it's on sale! Happy, happy, joy, joy!

    The topside roast gets done today! And the wild rabbit last night was superb. When I have the freezer I'll be able to stock up on such finds (they're not always available) and put them away.

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