So, it’s been a while. It is now mid-February, and I am still writing about a trip I took half a year ago. Well, here’s the latest installment in this series, where I will talk about the good, the bad, and the downright weird foods I have seen and tasted while across the pond.
As I was in Central London, one of the most urban places in the British Isles, there wasn’t a ton of ethnic cuisine. You could find all the same chain fast-food joints you find in cities here in the States; McDonald’s, Five Guys, even KFC. There are some chains specific to the U.K., however, my favorite of which is Nando’s Peri-Peri, a sit-down roasted-chicken restaurant similar to Applebee’s, minus waiting for your food for two hours only to have your order messed up in three different ways. When you go to order, there is a chart where you choose how spicy you would like your chicken, from mild (which still has a little spice to it, don’t get me wrong) to extra-hot, which is described on the menu as being “like tackling a ferociously fiery dragon in a furnace,” so make of that what you will. They also have the best bottomless frozen
yogurt yoghurt the world has even seen. It is also “frozen yoghurt” and not ice cream, so you can at least feel like you are eating healthy, when in reality you are most likely consuming more calories than you would if you just went with a small bowl of ice cream.
Breakfast, at least at the hotel I stayed at, consisted of foods very similar to those found in the states, with one exception: Marmite. Marmite is made from yeast extract, and it is a waste product produced from the making of beer. Most people have a “love-hate relationship” with the sludge, meaning they either adore it and spread on everything they ever consume, or they completely loathe it with all their heart. I happen to completely loathe it. It is possibly the saltiest thing on the planet, and it overpowers whatever other food you may eat it with, or have eaten in the past ten years (okay, maybe it’s not that strong). The only other complaint I have is that they have no maple syrup, so you are instead forced to pour a far too sweet paste that they call “pancake syrup” on your pancakes, and it is nowhere near as good as some classic Canadian maple syrup.
Dessert-type foods are very different in the U.K., at least from my experience. Ice cream is very rare to find, with frozen yoghurt taking its place (as previously mentioned, it gives people the illusion of healthy eating). One particular place that caught my eye was called Snog, and it was a little different, to say the least. At first, I was not to keen on stopping there, as the word “snog” in my teenage brain reminded me of “snot,” and thus I wasn’t all too interested in having a nice big bowl of it. It wasn’t until later that a client of my dad’s, who lives in London, informed us that “snog” is actually British slang for “kiss,” which made the place seem a bit more inviting. The “snog” itself is served out of a bright pink double-decker bus, presumably one of the old red London tour buses. All the while, there is irritatingly loud pop music playing, with little kids dancing on the second story of the bus, presumably all hopped up on the snog they just inhaled. Cookies, referred to as biscuits, are somewhat common in the U.K., but nowhere near as popular as here in the States.
Food in Germany is very rich, thick, and it sits heavy on your stomach. In fact, it surprises me that heart failure isn’t more common over there, because I cannot imagine being able to survive on the diets that are commonplace over there.
Breakfast in Germany is very heavy, with cakes and sausages being most prevalent. After about a couple days of that, my body was done, and I ended up having some plain toast or cereal every morning. It is simply far too thick for my American palate, although I did see many people eat it day in and day out. Lunch and dinner were no different. Several different types of wurst dominated menus, as well as the dish with the most German-sounding name possible, schnitzel. Cabbage and sauerkraut were common to see as sides, and as I mentioned before, all the food sat heavy on my stomach. After a few days, for every dinner, I would have the only thing on most German menus I could get down, salad with chicken. For whatever reason, that sat on the menu right next to all the sausage and other crazy-unhealthy, calorie-filled foods, which seemed very out of place. Also, the drinking age in Germany is 16, which shocked me – I saw kids who looked not much older than me drinking beer just as I would drink, say, a ginger ale. Another thing that is common in Germany is non-alcoholic beer. I never tried any myself, but I would assume the only reason it exists is to get kids used to the taste of beer, so they are used to it when they can drink the real thing. Also, plain spring water is impossible to find in Germany. What is branded as “regular” water is sparkling water, which, in my opinion, is horrible because it has the fizz of soda, but no sweetness and hardly any flavor whatsoever. Non-sparkling water does exist, but it is spiked with tons of minerals, which completely ruins the taste, in my opinion. It includes a high amount of salt, presumably to make you more thirsty, so you will buy more and more water.
[Ed. Note – presumably there’ll be a #5 of these soon enough, in which case we’ll see you then!]