Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Joys of Ex Pat Living

I’ve lived in lots of countries including Morocco, Cyprus, Switzerland, Canada, the United States, France, New Zealand, and Australia. But I was brought up in the northwest of Lancashire, which is where I’ve returned following my purchase of Michael’s Nook Cottage in Grasmere last year.

Visiting the Géant supermarket in St. Tropez a couple of weeks ago made me realize the importance of the food you have when you are brought up. For instance I still have Vegemite in fridges all over the world following my stint in Sydney in the early 90’s. At Géant all the shoppers were ex pat holiday makers and it was very funny watching them try to ferret out anything remotely connected to home. The English seem to be the most particular and incredibly nostalgic for their food, which of course doesn’t travel well generally since it is usually unhealthy, fattening, bland, and processed. One shop near the Meatpacking District in New York, Myers of Keswick, has made a great living out of this for over a decade, and so has Salt & Battery and Tea and Sympathy on Greenwich Avenue. Between them they serve all the British essentials such as fish ‘n chips and deep fried Mars bars!

Talking to a few friends, it seems that what English ex pat’s miss most is:

1. Walls sausages
2. English tea (depending on brand it was Tetley’s Typhoo, or PG Tips)
3. HP Sauce
4. Heinz Baked Beans
5. Jacobs Cream Crackers
6. Cadbury Dairy Milk
7. Carrs Crackers
8. Marmite
9. Oxo Cubes
10. Branston Pickles

And there is the story of my youth. Throw in some Hovis bread (which Bob Isherwood wrote some wonderful advertising for 30 years ago) and you have my entire youth laid out in front of you. And, if you want to put on that final shine some refreshing Vimto and Tizer, both of which you can get at Myers at Keswick, and it’s a done deed. Amongst hard core UK Ex Pats you will find some aficionados of Bassetts sweets, Mr Kipling cakes. McVities digestives and Walkers Shortbread which you could also add to the list with Colman’s Mustard and Bird’s Custard Powder also considered prized treasurers. Cheddar cheese travels well, but it is almost impossible to find my Lancashire, Red Leicester, and Wensleydale favorites.

My mother-in-law, Rita, is with us at the moment and she actually brought over some cheddar cheese and Walls pork sausages for me. A couple of the sausages with some HP Sauce washed down by a glass of Lucozade…

… Expat Heaven!