Tom Hanks is full of praise for our traditional black English tea. On the 'David Letterman' show of April 19th 2004 he was asked why he was looking so well. He replied that he had changed from drinking coffee to drinking 'PG Tips' a great English tea. I have been using PG Tips for years now and I'm lucky enough to be able to get it locally at: Dickens Sweet Shop in Chilliwack BC.
SPRING & SUMMER AIR MAIL SPECIAL: we will send you 100 ENGLISH BLACK TEABAGS (ASSAM) (not 'breakfast' & not 'orange pekoe') for: $20 Can/$15 US/£10 UK airmail included- cheque or money order. Airmailed anywhere in the world. Order: Britmail@aol.com
Newcomers to Canada and the U.S. are often taken by surprise to find that good old British basics like tea, real bacon, sausages, pickles, and a host of other things are not readily available. We Brits are an odd lot when it comes to our own way of life - we think everyone lives on the same things as we do!
The first big surprise to new arrivals is the tea. I've met so many Brits who say they just cannot get to like the tea here in Canada & the US. When I tell them it's not what we drink in Britain they seem surprised. They think the version here in North America is just a weaker type of British tea. No it isn't. It is definitely a weaker, sweeter type which north Americans call 'Orange Pekoe', which makes a great iced tea by the way. See our iced tea recipe in 'Recipes.' In Britain we grow up drinking 'black tea', or Indian tea, which is a whole different cup of tea!
Next is the bacon - oh the bacon! Say goodbye to full rasher Irish or Wiltshire bacon, and say farewell to gammon rashers. Here their 'bacon' is our 'streaky'! Yes, our basic, cheap cut, belly bacon is elevated to the grand status of 'bacon' here. They know nothing of full rasher bacon (not since the late 1800's) or of gammon. In New York there are a few places where 'Country Bacon' can be bought which is a kind of small gammon rasher. But your supermarkets here sell 98% streaky and 2% (I checked with Safeway) Canadian 'back' which is nothing more than the smoked pork tenderloin then sliced into tiny little rounds. Good, but not proper bacon.
WHERE'S THE BACON? THE REAL BACON?
Yes, bacon, REAL bacon, doesn't exist in North America. There's 'streaky' (fat belly) and there's good but over-rated 'Canada Back' which is the tenderloin of pork, flavoured, and cut into round pieces, that spit when you cook them in the frying pan. But where's the bacon - I mean the REAL bacon? It's like this. Americans like to suck the grissle off pork bones, and they love to eat eat pork chops. All that uncured pork! So a side of pork gets cut up into chops (there goes our full rasher bacon) and the rib bones are extracted and sold as 'spare-ribs' for the populace to barbecue. What's left is the fat streaky belly bacon, which they call 'bacon' and most of it isn't even cured, smoked, or dried. So, you'll never ever see 'real' bacon here. Only streaky & sliced-up semi-smoked tenderloin.
Britmail@aol.com subject: Bacon
Sausages? Forget it. You'll never savour the delicious delight of tucking into a couple of good pork sausages. Here in North America you'll get nothing but flavourless, mild bratwurst type, or sometimes chewy chipolatas that are all filler and little flavour. Here in Canada the sausages have improved in the last 30 years as more and more Brits seek out a good banger. But they are not the same. A breakfast here is nothing more than some over-cooked streaky bacon, those small chipolata sausages without flavour, a watery egg or two, and some floppy, limp, 'buttered' toast that hardly tastes like it was buttered with real butter. Even the bread here has a rusk lightness to it that just can't sit around in a toast rack for more than five minutes. Now you know why there are no toast racks in the U.S. or Canada!
Then we have the lack of pickles (brown & piccallili - yuck they eat mostly "sweet" piccallili here!!) and the lack of a good variety of brown sauces, and the pickled onions here are not pickled but sweetened and taste funny! Crisps are 'chips' and not the same, and I'm sure north Americans don't know what hot mustard is. If you want a pork pie of a Melton Mowbray you'll have to make them from our recipes.
PLEASE NOTE: For those living in Canada, particularly the west coast, the following British food items can be bought at the:
REAL CANADIAN SUPERSTORE:
English black tea. Currently the only kind that's available LIPTONS YELLOW LABEL.
English marmalades and jam. (Robertsons)
Piccallili & Branston. Mint Sauce. (Crosse & Blackwell),
Heinz Salad Cream. (made in Canada but 90% as good)
Biscuits: McVities, (Dark & Milk Choc one-sided) Hobnobs, Jaffa Cakes etc.
Nestle's Double Devon Cream. Tizer, Ribena, Marmite, C & B Mint Sauce
Also: Batchelor marrowfat peas. Bisto, Rowntrees Cocoa, OXO, Birds Custard Powder etc.
SAFEWAYS: sells Orange & Lemon Squash by the way. (Not ALL Safeways however - Safeway was quick to tell me!)
SAVE-ON FOODS: sells TYPHOO tea, and all PATAK & HANIFFS curry items.
Cockles. In case you were not awhere of it, North American 'baby clams' are our cockles! They usually come in tins from Thailand marked 'Baby Clams', and they're the same as cockles; well, not quite as good as those you get down Petticoat Lane or on Southend Pier but acceptable! All you do is thoroughly rinse them in cold water, put them in a clean old jam jar, add salt, white pepper, and malt vinegar - and Bob's your Uncle.