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Impressions of England & the US


There are little things that pop into my head when I go back and forth between the US and England. Here are a few of them — and please share any you may have had! (Mine, of course, are affected by the fact that I’ve lived most of my life in Southern California. New Yorkers, for example, will have somewhat different impressions, I am sure.) 🙂

THINGS I SOMETIMES THINK WHEN I VISIT ENGLAND

1. Wow, things cost so much here! (Especially books, restaurant food, and anything involving transportation!)

2. Everyone walks so much here! I should walk more when I’m at home. I really should. And I will, this time. I will really walk more when I get home.

3. The roads are so narrow! How can those drivers go so fast without constantly scraping things?

4. Okay, I have to change my vocabulary over now so I don’t make mistakes. (Mental reminder: wheat bread = brown bread, water = tap water, gas = petrol, pants = trousers, bathroom or restroom = loo or toilet or ladies’, eggplant = aubergine or courgette, I never can remember which one, the other is rutabaga I think, anyway I don’t like either one so it doesn’t much matter…)

5. Walk faster. Walk faster. You used to know how to walk fast. Come on, it will all come back, right?

THINGS I SOMETIMES THINK WHEN I RETURN TO THE U.S.

1. Wow, things are so cheap here! (Especially produce, gasoline, books, and…everything else, pretty much. Except tea, which is cheaper in England.)

2. Waiters are constantly refilling my water-glass! That’s so cool!

3. Why can’t restaurants figure out how to make a decent cup of tea?

4. Wow, everything’s so big! And so empty! And the sky is so blue!

So, what thoughts have you had upon going to England, and coming back to the US? (Or, if you live in England, upon going to the US, and coming back to England?) All opinions welcome!

Cara
Cara Kingwww.caraking.com
MY LADY GAMESTER — Holt Medallion Finalist for Best Regency of 2005!

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Megan Frampton
16 years ago

I haven’t been to England since before my six year old was born, but I do remember how hard it was to get a decent salad.

New Yorkers walk a lot already–it always surprises me how little people in other parts of the country walk when I go there.

Bars don’t stay open as late as I’d like in England. And the mixed drinks are terrible, and expensive. The beer, however, is incredible.

And more people in England (a generalization, mind) seem to pay attention to their wardrobes. And clothing is SO MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE. Except for Doc Martens. They’re cheaper.

I’m glad you had a good time, Cara.

JaneFan
16 years ago

I thought courgettes were cucumbers…

Cara King
16 years ago

I’m pretty sure courgettes aren’t cucumbers, janefan — if so, the cucumber sandwiches Oscar Wilde talks about would be courgette sandwiches. But a rutabaga sort of looks like a cucumber, doesn’t it?

I remember the first time I asked a Brit what aubergine and courgette were…she tried to describe what they looked like when they were growing, but that was no use, I still had no idea! I’m such a city girl that I have no idea what half the foods that I eat look like in their native state. (Um, tunas are tiny little fish shaped like squat cylinders, right?) 🙂

Cara

Elena Greene
16 years ago

Hey, I can be of some use here.
I lived in England for three years, on international assigment with IBM. The first day I ate at the company cafeteria I asked for a serving of the zucchini and got the blankest look from the cafeteria employee dishing out the food. Rather forlornly, I asked for squash and she looked even more confused. Then I asked for the green vegetable that wasn’t broccoli and she said, “Oh, courgettes.”

Yes, Megan, salads were rare, but to compensate, I thought the nicer pubs and restaurants had fresher veggies, not overcooked as you often get them here.

When I compare the experiences, I admit the prices were high there for a lot of things. But I miss the ales, miss the pubs, and miss being able to head out on public footpaths and bridleways that crisscross the countryside. Here there are “No Trespassing” signs everywhere and you can only hike in a state park.

Sigh… I must get back as soon as possible!

Janet Mullany
16 years ago

courgettes = zucchini.

I always think–or at least I did last time–why are people asking me directions?

And why do I look like so many of them?

How come I walk so much over there but seem to get fatter? Is it, perhaps, the shortbread? Teacakes?

Janet

Cara King
16 years ago

Thank you, Elena and Janet! Yes, I should have remembered it was zucchini. It’s just that, see, I don’t like zucchini, and I don’t like rutabaga, and they both have weird names, so of course I get them confused. 🙂 (I don’t get them confused with jicama because I like jicama!)

Speaking of shortbread, Janet, I think the butter in England tastes way better than the butter in the US. Or, at least, better than the butter in California, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania, which are the only states I’ve lived in. 🙂 I really don’t know why, but I’ve thought so many times!

Cara

Todd
16 years ago

I once had a very confusing conversation with some English people because I happened to mention that aubergines were called by a different name in the U.S.A. “Just like courgettes,” quoth I, which prompted my companions to spend a very long time explaining to me that aubergines and courgettes are TOTALLY DIFFERENT. While I, of course, tried to explain that I only meant that both had different names in England and the U.S.A. Sigh!

As for the walking thing, New Yorkers do walk a lot more than people from most parts of the U.S., though some other cities also encourage walking–I seem to remember walking a lot in Pittsburgh. But only in Los Angeles is walking considered vaguely wrong.

Todd-who-thinks-“eggplant”-sounds-a-lot-more-Anglo-Saxon-than-“aubergine”

Janet Mullany
16 years ago

Ah yes, rutabagas = swedes.

I think. Or are they turnips?

Janet

Eva
Eva
16 years ago

Don’t forget prawns vs. shrimp.

Cara King
16 years ago

Rutabagas are swedes??? That would explain a lot. Like why I’d never heard of a swede until I went to England. (I’d heard of Swedes, of course.) 🙂

Swedes are those things in Cornish pasties that taste a little bit like brussels sprouts, right? (BTW, do brussels sprouts come from Brussels? Do swedes come from Sweden???) If so, I hate swedes. (I like Swedes fine, though.)

I used to think turnips were those gross things in Cornish pasties, but someone told me they were swede. I know vegetables so little!!!! In any country.

Ah, I just looked it up on wikipedia: they claim that swedes, rutabagas and yellow turnips are all the same thing! Thank you, wikipedia!

Cara (off to have tea a.k.a. tay a.k.a. cha)

Cara King
16 years ago

And scampi too, Eva! Took me a while to figure out when pubs were offering scampi and chips, the scampi wasn’t the scampi I was used to, but just fried shrimp!

And then there are those prawn cocktail flavored crisps… There was a newish flavor of crisps I encountered this time (well, newish to me, anyway, for all I know it’s old): lamb and mint. Very very tasty. And surprisingly like lamb and mint!

I much prefer it to bovril or roast ox flavors (which I haven’t seen in stores for years! so perhaps no one else much liked them either)

Cara

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