Thursday, April 21, 2005

Little differences

It is really striking in London how much convenience food there is but a lot of it is actually rather good for you. Nearly every morning I run into Pret A Manger for a salad or sandwich for lunch later and a white americano. Most places if you want cream in your coffee you order it "white" the only exception that I have seen is Starbucks where you just pour what you want as you would in America. Sandwich combinations here are often a bit unusual sometimes but they make sense in their own way. . . Bacon and egg salad, Chicken and grilled asparagus, cheddar and herb mayo. There have been some I have seen that are far too bizarre for words which I can't recall at this moment. Last night I made Chicken Tikka Masala from a Marks and Spencer prepared sauce which was very tasty. Big Department stores that also sell groceries is an odd thing for me. I don't use them too much because they are really just too expensive. There are little mini grocery convenience stores like Tesco and Sainsburys everywhere where you can get nearly everything you need. A couple of weeks ago I ran into an Arabic market in my neighbourhood which was nice but I definitely got a "what are you doing in here you stupid American white girl" vibe. Don't think I will go back except they had ricotta cheese which I haven't found anywhere else yet. Eggs aren't stored in the refrigerated section but out on the shelf. The milk tastes different here- better. I don't know how to explain it but it makes my coffee taste good indeed. Tipping is another major difference. I am one of those people who always tip 20% and will do 15% if the service is bad. Here, you don't tip in pubs at all and a lot of places will think you are taking a piss if you do it. At restaurants is seems that most people feel that 10% is an acceptable tip which tweaks me out. One thing that service people do here that annoys me is they linger by you when they bring the bill while you calculate the tip on the slip or sort out the money. The money. . . I am finally able to look at a pile of change and read what it is without fingering through it like a refugee. There are £1.00, £2.00, 50p, 20p, 10p, 5p 2p and 1p coins. There was a point that I felt so self conscious digging through my coins to pay for something that I had collected two, three handfuls of the damn stuff. There lot of the women that I see on the street have taken up with the unfortunate fashion style of wearing patterned or fish net stockings with short skirts and boots. I think a law should be passed preventing it. It is a public service really as they apparently have no idea it makes them look cheap and fat. A similar law would need to be enacted in America for the women who wear Uggs. The washing machine is a dual front loading washing/dryer appliance and is often found in the kitchen. It doesn't really dry your clothes as much as it makes wet clothes warm and wet. I've been warned actually to not use the dryer because it will eat my clothes. It takes something crazy like three hours to go through the cycle and then you string your clothes all over the flat along the tops of doors and the backs of chairs to air dry. There are no electrical plugs in the bathroom and the light is on a long string hanging from the ceiling. At first I thought this arrangement was unique to my flat but after seeing a few other people's places it seems that the English are rather frightened by the prospect of electricity in the loo. I like the word loo. I might keep that word when I go home.


At 4/24/2005 06:01:00 PM, Blogger Saint Buryan said...

Hi - just got back from NY. I was shocked to see PLUGS in the bathrooms out there!! Wahhhhh, I was afraid, very afraid...!

At 5/12/2005 07:42:00 PM, Blogger Naptime Noter said...

LOL... I am a Brit and just stumbled over your blog. So funny how you see our weird things. I have friends in Washington State. Electricity near water - are you mad?????

At 12/05/2005 01:43:00 PM, Blogger Julia said...

Pret a manger -- favorite "find" in London. I guess it isn't really a find since they are everywhere, but I loved their sandwiches.

My husband is English and there is a chance we could end up living in the u.k. I am not sure yet if this is a good or bad thing??

I can't stand the washing machines in the kitchen. 3 hours? Really? What is up with that?

Also, the housing is SO SMALL and so VERTICAL. We will probably never be able to afford a detached house in England. I read that in N.America, we carry almost half the mortgage that they do in England.

Great site!


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