Monday, April 4, 2011

Bad Cow Disease

Shopping for groceries in the UK is something I really enjoy.  There's quite a bit of variety and you can definitely see the influence of other countries in the Commonwealth.  You won't find tika flavored chicken in the lunch meat section, or prawn cocktail flavored crisps (aka chips), back in Texas at the local HEB.  I imagine curries, as well as steak and ale pies, won't ever make it onto the shelves of the prepared foods aisle alongside the tamales, but I find these differences interesting.  The one thing I do lament is the lack of Velveeta Cheese, but I'll save that for another post.

I'm still learning the lingo.  Baps are rolls and digestives are graham crackers.  Seriously, Metamucil fiber bars always come to mind when you mention digestives, and that's not terribly appealing.  However, we tried some of the chocolate coated digestives and they were quite tasty despite the off-putting name.  Though, honestly, you could coat a dustbunny in chocolate and I would gobble it up like manna from heaven.  There's no such thing as a bad dessert as long as you put enough of the sweet stuff in it, and I believe that may be the problem over here.  They've got this twisted idea that recipes don't need much sugar, or maybe Karo a la pecan pie, and that's just a crime.  As far as I'm concerned, desserts can never be too sweet. Or too rich. Or too creamy. Or gooey.  Yummmmm...

A lot of what you find in the grocery aisles is very eco-friendly and politically correct.  It's all organic this and locally sourced that.  The two brands of eggs I purchase are marketed as "Barn Eggs" and "Happy Eggs".  The barn I get, but I don't know about happy.  I guess the hens are just tickled pink they're laying eggs instead of being targeted for breaded nuggets.  All of the meats are free range.  They love to stamp British on it and include a picture of the union jack, just to make sure even the illiterate folks get it.  The chicken has been fabulous, very tasty and exactly what we were accustomed to in the US.  I'm trying to think of a polite way to describe the British beef, but I just can't move beyond words like ick and yuck.

You know it's pretty bad when even Mikey, aka my husband, refuses to eat British beef.  The kids, with their keen hearing rather than sophisticated palates, heard old Mikey complain about the British beef and now they turn up their noses, too.  Thank heavens I didn't just fall off the turnip truck yesterday.  Where there's a will, there's a way - one that doesn't want to find a local butcher and use the kid's college fund to finance the purchase of Scottish beef because it's vastly superior to the gamey, stringy British cows.

So how am I getting them to eat British beef?  I make sure it's in the oven and buried in seasoning, with the tell-tale packaging hidden away in the trash.  I'll even make a special trip out to the refuse or recycle wheelie bin to hide the evidence.  Tonight I'm cooking spaghetti and meatballs, so I baked the meatballs earlier today, let them cool and then placed them in the fridge until it's time to put the rest of the meal together this evening.  The kids will prattle on about how good it tastes and are none the wiser, he-he-he.  I've been able to get away with this little ruse thanks, in part, to my husband's deviated septum.  In technical terms, his sniffer, and hence taster, don't work very well.  Thus, the liberal use of garlic and onion have kept the whole family from figuring out what I've been doing.  

It's just a shame I can't use the old cereal box trick on them, putting the generic stuff inside the brand name box so that they're never the wiser.

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