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Ode to a Bacon Butty

September 22, 2011

Ode to a Bacon Butty

Drool-worthy photo courtesy of Babble.com

Oh Butty, so glamorous!
You make us all amorous
With salty, thick slabs of your ham-orous.

Oh Butty, you’re new to me!
I’ve naught had a clue of thee
But now I devour you gleefully

Oh Butty, you beauty!
I now know your duty
Your sweetness goes straight to my booty.

Oh Butty, you tease!
Don’t leave me, please
I’m begging you down on my knees!

Oh Butty, come back!
You’re a wonderful snack
The best of the pig is the back!

Oh, crap!
I’ve eaten the plate.

*For Pete and my mother-in-law-to-be, who made my butty and thereby, made my day.

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20 Days in England

September 20, 2011

What I like so far:

1.  The food.  I never would have believed it, but almost everything I’ve tried here is fan-freakin’-tastic.

  • The bacon.  You think you like bacon?  You’ve never HAD bacon until you come here.  This is American/Canadian bacon multiplied by a thousand.  I’m considering turning some into a sheet and quilt set.  You can do that with British bacon.
  •  The curry that Eileen made.  I get all watery-eyed just thinking about it.  I can’t WAIT for more.
  • The glazed goat cheese salad from The Settle restaurant in Frome.  No kidding, I damn near had a Meg Ryan moment.  It was THAT good.
  • The fish that Eileen made.  Simple salmon filets that were to die for, literally made my mouth water after the very first bite.
  • The Cornish pasties that Eileen and Duncan brought home from Cornwall.  (I have to confess something embarrassing here.  My mother- and father-in-law never actually SAID that they were going to spend a coupla days in Cornwall.  They said they were going someplace which sounded to me like ‘Nookie.’  For a week I went around singing Makin’ Whoopie to myself, until I realised that they were saying that they’d visited ‘Newquay,’ a coastal town in Cornwall.  I’m such a fool.)
  • The fish and chips from the local place, Codswallop.  Going in the little shop was amazing – all kinds of freshly fried foods that warmed the cockles of my little Texan heart.  They also actually serve cockles.  I have no idea what they are, but I thought that was hilarious.  I don’t think the other patrons thought it was nearly as amusing as I did when I just started pointing and giggling.
  • The rice pudding that Eileen made.  Okay, so…we had egg fried rice for dinner, and the leftover rice became A DESSERT.  It was nothing short of a miracle, as far as I was concerned.  I rarely eat dessert and I had two bowls of it.
  • The hot buttered crumpets.  There’s really nothing more that needs to be said here.  Let me find a picture of one, then you’ll understand.

From BBC Good Food

  • The cheese.  This really deserves its own category.  It is my afternoon snack. (I remember when Tweet first joined me in Canada and she saw the yellow cheeses marked ‘cheddar’ in our refrigerator.  It was one of the few times that her spine straightened and she got this British-ly disgusted look on her face as she said, “That is not cheddar.”  How was I supposed to know that The Town of Cheddar That Invented the Cheese is 15 miles from her hometown?)

3.  The weather.  I don’t care if it gets a little wet and drizzly occasionally – it isn’t miserably hot.  ‘Nuff said.

4.  The television presenters.  Listening to them, it’s easy to believe that everyone is either Scots or Liverpudlian (or Liverputian, which I prefer) in much the same way that it’s easy to believe that every American is blonde, rich and tan by watching Entertainment Tonight.

5.  My in-laws-to-be.  It’s the first time that Tweet and I have had the chance to spend significant amounts of time around other couples who are also totally, completely and head-over-heels in love with each other.  Plus, it’s incredibly interesting to see the origin of her sense of humor, her quirks, her good nature and her cleverness.  (I dunno where the shyness comes from – her brother constantly sings karaoke at the top of his lungs, her mother is THE most popular person I’ve ever known and we have to actively stop her father from wandering about buck naked after his showers.)

What I don’t like so far:

1.  The chips.  Sorry, the ‘crisps.’  Itty bitty bags of less-than-salty crunchiness.  What do you MEAN I can’t just run out and grab a bag of Lays?!  That’s it, I’m eating another plate of cheese.

2.  The prices of fuel and electricity.  Good lord, it’s horrible here – no kidding.  I feel properly humbled after complaining about American taxes and costs for so many years.

3.  Pimms.  I saw the devil drinking Pimms!  As I tasted it for the first time, I could feel my face curling into the exact same expression my cat used to use as he was coughing up a hairball.  (I apologise profusely, Pete, but it’s true.  I am on track to try those ciders, however.)

4.   The alarm clock in our room (the one which Tweet is insisting that I mention that I picked out).  It’s a little cordless digital thing but when we first turned it on, it wouldn’t stop talking.  It kept announcing the hour, every hour – all night long.  And when the alarm goes off, it’s a digital rooster crow.  It’s the single most horrifying piece of technology that I’ve seen since the digital rectal thermometer.

5.   No free refills on sodas, even at the fast food restaurants.  I have to admit that it kinda does make me want to throw a spoiled-child tantrum, which, I suppose, is exactly what some Brits might expect of an American, so I’m alright.  (They even charge for the little ketchup packets, which is high treason as far as I’m concerned.  I bought those fries – they COME WITH ketchup, dammit!  And get away with that bottle of vinegar – what are you, French?!)

Poker Face, Alcohol-Laced

September 17, 2011

Just watched Lady Gaga’s video for her song, Poker Face.  I have to say, although I really enjoy playing cards, swimming, sex and metaphors, my new life in England doesn’t resemble the video as much as I thought it might.   For one thing, I do not have gloves that match my swimsuit.  (Sorry, I have to start calling it a ‘swimming costume.’)  I also do not put that kind of effort into doing my nails, although I do look pretty spectacular in a wig.

I do have dogs hanging around my life at photographically-appropriate intervals, but they tend to be snoring most of the time, rather than standing around looking noble.  Drooling, possibly.  All over my pleather catsuits.

Rosie, Loki, Sofa

With regard to the parties that have been held here since I’ve arrived…  There’s only been one, and while it did somewhat approximate the strip-poker party in the video, it mostly consisted of several young men playing Call of Duty while Tweet and I did laundry.

There is to be another party here tonight, although I think it’s really only the pre-party for an actual party to be held elsewhere.  All I know for certain is that I’ve been asked to mix the drinks.  According to Lady Gaga, Pepto-Bismol is the drink of choice pool-side and while gambling.  Is that my only choice?!  Hold on, I have to watch it again.

Okay, it appears that I can upgrade to raspberry juice as the evening progresses.  I shall add vodka.   And ice, as a shout-out to my American heritage.

I’m also sincerely hoping to get my first taste of cider tomorrow night.  I keep hearing about this mysterious beverage, which seems to bear absolutely no resemblance to ‘cider’ back at home in the US.  Here, it is alcoholic, locally-made and phenomenally strong, apparently.  I passed a shop in Frome that was selling it in plastic containers in which we’d sell gasoline.  That’s always a good sign.

Alternative Fuel

I’ve also been told that I should try something called ‘Pimms.’  It was offered in a vaguely threatening tone, so I’m a little nervous.  If I don’t blog again after tomorrow night, BEWARE OF PIMMS.

Curry Favor

September 15, 2011

Hurts So Good

*This article does not represent any actual research; just what my fiancée told me.

According to noted historian Eddie Izzard, the British Empire conquered India by showing up and sticking a flag into the ground. According to my fiancée, the beautiful Tweet, the British co-opted a dish from their Indian cousins millions of years later and named it Curry.

(The way she describes the timeline of Events in British History is kinda dismissive…in a ‘you’re an American so you wouldn’t understand how long ago we were operational’ kind of way.)

Since then, curries of various flavors have bypassed fish and chips as THE most popular British food. And just to emphasize the fact that Brits are not all bland and pasty, she eagerly points out, they then made the curry hotter. They invented Indian-sounding names like Vindaloo, which means “We White People Can Hurt You Too.”

I am a huge fan of spicy food. Well, I’m a pretty skinny fan, to be honest, but I really enjoy me some hot stuff. Thus, I was eagerly anticipating the curries to be found here in England when I arrived two weeks ago. It took until last night to have any – apparently my mother-in-law-to-be wanted me to have not just any curry, but a real, British, home-made one. So, she created a dish in her kitchen, named it Curry, and served it to us.

It should be noted that Tweet’s brother cannot stomach highly spicy food. The curry Mum made was not supposed to be that hot, so that Michael could enjoy it too. At one point during the curry creation process, Mum tasted the curry and immediately began coughing and spluttering, shouting something vaguely intelligible as “NOMIKE…STAYWAY.”

I gathered it hadn’t turned out the way she’d planned. Tweet and I, both spice-lovers, immediately perked up. Maybe this dish would be suited to our liking in a way that plain boiled chicken isn’t.

When it was served up, honestly…it looked pretty innocuous. It was a chicken curry served over rice, medium orange in color (see picture above) and it smelled divine. Everyone immediately tucked in. I waited and watched for a minute, as I learned to do long ago in Mexico when those dishes were being served up. You know the ones I’m talking about – the ones that people use to engage in some kind of amorphous contest in which they try to outdo one another in causing pain.

Everyone took a few bites and seemed fine. Mum had said that she had diluted the spice since that first taste, and it appeared that she had succeeded. So, I dug in.

Oh. My. Sweet. Potatoes.

If it had been hotter earlier in the afternoon, I’m amazed that her pots and pans are still intact. It could also have easily stopped the rioting that occurred in London and various locations a few weeks ago – throw this curry in their faces and they’ll immediately have pressing concerns elsewhere, like a plastic surgeon’s office.

Within two minutes, we were all wiping our running eyes and noses. My lips burned, my throat protested and my tummy began to simmer. The most amazing part, however, was the fact that I LOVED it! I couldn’t get enough.

Without being indelicate, let me just say that the curry hasn’t finished with me yet. I will prevail, however. I’m gonna teach it a lesson – I’m going to eat the leftovers for lunch today. That’ll show it.

The best part of the meal came late last night as Tweet and I were lying in bed and discussing the events of the day.

“You know,” she said with a sleepy smile. “I was really proud of you today. You might have some Brit in you after all.”

Considering how much I love it here and how wonderful everyone has been, it was one of the nicest things I’ve ever heard. Pass the curry, please!

Cheese All That!

September 11, 2011

There are tourist ‘must-dos.’ If you find yourself in Cooperstown, you visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. In Rome, you should see the Colosseum. Visiting Amsterdam, you do…the things you can do in Amsterdam. I have been in southwestern England for nine days now, and one of the biggest Things To Do here is attend the Frome Cheese Show.

As an American seeing England for the first time and staying with future in-laws, I am getting into the habit of mustering somewhat extreme amounts of enthusiasm for any activity that is suggested. Drive down three-foot-wide country lanes at breakneck speeds? Sure! Meet grandparents-in-law-to-be while jetlagging so hard that I’ve forgotten my fiancée’s name and have my bra on backwards? That sounds GREAT! Try some haggis? PLEASE, SIR, MAY I HAVE SOME MORE?!

Thus, when the Cheese Show idea was proposed, I jumped on it like Roman Polanski would a pre-teen delivery girl. I expected to see, well…cheese. Perhaps cheese paraphernalia. What I did not expect to see was a massive display of gorgeous animals, hundreds of arts and crafts, stunt equestrian performances and English riding displays, proper English gentlemen complaining loudly that others cheated by dying their sheep pink, Oriental noodles, Jack Russell terrier races, photography competitions and freakin’ adorable pygmy goats.

Ewë and I


The Alleged Cheaters

Most of the animals on display and in the competitions were also family pets, no matter how large. These beasts were clearly beloved by their owners, who ranged in age from the Justin Beiber fans to the Lawrence Welk crowd.

Potential Beiber Fan


Grandma with Grandpa


Proud Papa

There was horse poop everywhere. Cute little Shetland ponies, thoroughbreds being put through proper English riding paces and jumps, and massive Andalusians carrying hottie stunt riders who had been in Eragon (and trained the Omani Royal Cavalry) all relieved themselves frequently.

English Rider with Stick Up Bum


The Rockin' Horse Show

My favorite of the chicken, duck, rabbit, guinea pig and hay display was the Cher-circa-1974 hen.

Squawkin' in Memphis

My first mother-in-law wanted a yacht and a boob job. My second (and last)-to-be wants a goat. Look at them – can you blame her? (To be fair, she probably wouldn’t turn down a yacht.)

Kid Rock

After 90 minutes, we got to the cheese. If you ever wonder how to constipate an entire town, bring them to sample these.

A Dairy Tale


Cheesus, Take the Wheel

Without doubt, the best part of the show was the fact that it involved the entire region and everyone was having a wonderful time, in spite of the uncooperative weather and the poo-stink on everyone’s shoes. The children and adults were incredibly proud of their contributions and it showed. These competitors weren’t Texas cheerleader mothers or Toddlers and Tiaras, they were a community being brought together by the pride and pageantry of it all. They love their way of life, and while it is a society that is almost completely foreign to me as an American city-dweller, their joy was infectious. I had a fantastic time.

The Union Snack

Nap, Interrupted


Bloody Beautiful

September 9, 2011

There is a bag of blood on the kitchen counter right now.

Before I lose you entirely, let me point out some of the infinitely less frightening aspects of my first few days in England.

One of the most surprising aspects of my new life involves the temperature, outdoors and in. Having moved from a Very Hot Location to a Moderately Hot and Sometimes Arctic Location to here, I had no idea what to expect. I’d always heard about British weather, but usually in Celsius (Sanskrit to me), and it usually involved rain. Rain doesn’t bother me in the slightest, but I have an ongoing battle with heat which spans almost fifteen years now.

Here, I discovered to my alarm, windows are regularly left open. There are fans when it’s a bit too warm, but generally the outside temperature is exactly what it should be for human comfort. The cars lack air conditioning, as do many of the buildings, but no one is pitching hissy fits over it or keeling over in the throes of heat stroke the way they would back home in Texas. It’s absolutely gorgeous and perfectly comfortable. I could feel myself starting to panic when I was first told about the lack of A/C in our new house – it’s an addiction, I have come to realise.

Hi, my name is Kate, and I have been addicted to air conditioning. I apologise to all of those whom I have frozen out of their drawers by reveling in the artificially lowered temperatures in my various apartments and homes back in the States. It seems that now I am on the way to recovery. And if I feel just slightly chilled here in the house? I get handed a steaming cup of tea to alleviate the problem. Bonus!

I asked a native here and was told that the only real issue with leaving windows and doors open is that occasionally a bug will get in. Very occasionally. In fact, it happened to us for the very first time just last night – I was sitting in the living room with Tweet and Mum. Dad was sitting at his computer in the dining room and suddenly, he was up! He shot into the living room with us, his eyes darting around like a madman, his posture screaming Me Tarzan, Me Hunt Big Game. Turns out he’d seen a mosquito and he was determined to take its life.

I giggled in spite of myself. Gosh, there are places in Texas where it’s an event if there isn’t a mosquito somewhere inside. This alone convinced me of the lack of bugs around here. I couldn’t help grinning like a fool while Dad poked around for the thing, peppering us with questions as to where it might have gone and what it may have been thinking of doing when we saw it. They even referred to it as a ‘mozzie,’ which makes it sound kinda cute and harmless and not at all like something that bites you for the sole purpose of sucking out as much of your blood as it can hold.

And speaking of blood…  There is a picture here, so prepare yourself to navigate away now. It is NOT an inappropriate picture in any way; it is in fact something Mum picked up from the grocery store and brought home to serve for dinner tonight. But if you’re just slightly squeamish (like me), then avert your eyes.

When I first saw the thing emerge from the Asda (like a Walmart grocery) bag, I recoiled in true girl-who-jumps-on-chairs-when-someone-pretends-there-is-a-mouse fashion. Mum, with a completely deadpan expression, looked at me and replied, “Oh, there was a lady down at the store who was being a bit bitchy.” Then she jerked her chin at the bag with an It’s Taken Care Of Now expression.

Truth be told, I wasn’t really scared. Mum does not have an unkind bone in her body. I’m just so accustomed to chicken coming from the store looking like this.

So what have I learned? Dad murders bugs, Mum murders bitches, but the temperature in the closet corner in which I will hide when I choose to adopt a little pet mozzie while feeling bitchy will be absolutely glorious.

PS.  I have just been informed that the red color in the bag is, in fact, sweet and sour sauce.  Everyone in the house knew this and let me go on thinking it was blood for 24 hours.  I will have my revenge.

The Clueless American Arrives in England

September 8, 2011

There’s nothing that says “have a wonderful flight” quite like having three hyper-bitchy soccer moms seated behind you, saying “You know what I forgot to bring? Nutrasweet! Shoulda brought some of those Splenda packets, because water is just so bland.”

Then the plane prematurely ejaculated, which was even less exciting than I remember. We got all worked up, taxied to the runway, revved the engines to maximum warp…and traveled all of ten feet. The engines immediately died. At least, the warp engines did – we were able to limp back to the gate. The captain came on the loudspeaker announcing mysterious ‘technical difficulties’ and assuring us that we would all be provided with more information the moment he had it. An hour passes. Another announcement is made this time asking if two certain individuals are on board, named Nanjeet and Numari Mohamed. No explanation is given. I am absolutely mortified to admit that with those simple words, everyone on the plane immediately became racist. (Or had their heretofore hidden racist tendencies brought to the fore, is probably more accurate.) We all looked at each other in horror, everyone suspecting everyone else. Nothing more was said for another thirty minutes, after which the plane began its return to the runway. Soon after, with more a whimper than a bang, we took off.

Fast forward nine hours and I’m following Tweet, my fiancée, through Gatwick airport in London, my head feeling barely attached due to exhaustion and unable to concentrate on anything but following her rear end through the long corridors. We meet up with her parents and feel our first thrill of having come ‘home.’ Very few things in life are as satisfying as having your very own movie scene in which you run into the arms of people who are thrilled to tears to see you. Everyone should have a moment like that; it validates your entire existence and I feel incredibly blessed to have had it.

I have now spent thirty hours in England and I have learned the following:

-Roads sometimes have animals on them, and they are still alive. They have the right of way.
-There are forty ways to say ‘thank you’ and I can understand none of them.
-The road signs are designed to utterly baffle Americans, containing random colors and parentheses.
-If anyone suspects that you cannot understand their accent, they will deliberately make it stronger. Then laugh.
-The grocery stores have an AMAZING selection of food, almost none of which comes from England.
-Light switches can be buttons or pullstrings, and I cannot remember which is where.
-I am superb at locking myself into bathrooms.
-The shower is electric – you push a button to turn the water on. I did not realise this until standing naked under the shower head, completely puzzled.
-There is nothing better than having a family – in-law, outlaw or otherwise.