George Bernard Shaw once quipped that America and England were two countries separated by a common language. At the time, he was talking about vocabulary, grammar, attitude and, of course, accent. But as we learned recently, his much-quoted wisdom applies to food as well.
That’s one of the main takeaways from the happy news that several of our products are being sold at TESCO, the largest supermarket chain in Great Britain. We are confident our sauces will find a fanbase in that new world, not least since the same Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce that’s always a favorite in our own country will, if anything, be even more out of the ordinary over there. After all, at least a certain kind of British food is infamous for lacking bold, different flavors.
Still, when TESCO asked us to develop a few recipes for the products they are carrying, the learning curve proved steeper than we at first thought. We knew we’d have to adjust the ingredient measurements, using grams instead of cups or tablespoons; but it turned out there were differences far beyond and far deeper than that act of calculator math. Most British subjects shop differently, cook differently, entertain differently and eat differently than their counterparts in the States.
And, it turns out, we have a fan we could ask all about it.
Sean Thain isn’t in the food business, but he loves to cook and eat in a manner increasingly popular in a Britain more multi-ethnic (and heck, simply more culinarily and culturally interesting) than most older British movies would lead us to suspect. Sean took his father on a trip around Texas a few years ago, visiting Fredericksburg and sampling our products at Das Peach Haus. It was, we’re happy to tell you, love at first bite. And we like what he told us recently about his taste buds.
“I love visiting different parts of the world and experiencing different foods,” offers Sean. “I usually end up staying in hotels 200 nights a year just through work, so I eat out often and try anything from everyone’s cuisine.”
With his enthusiasm obvious, we asked Sean to take a look at the TESCO recipes we were cooking up, literally. He answered with a flourish of observation that added up to sound advice. He suggested, for instance, that English home cooks want to prepare smaller amounts of any dish than we tend to make over here. Fridges are smaller there (large ones are actually sold as “American-style”), kitchens are smaller and there isn’t quite the “leftover” culture that comes with oversized servings of everything in the States. People tend not to take home foods they don’t finish in restaurants.
Part of this same idea is that home entertaining in England isn’t the big deal it is in America, says Sean. Sure, there are lots of parties during the holidays. But it sounds like the entertaining (and cooking) we’d be doing at home, they’d be doing in a local pub or restaurant.
As far as cuisine goes, the legacy of the British Empire (upon which the sun used to “never set”) is alive and well in food, especially on restaurant menus and, naturally, more so in big cities than small villages. As most know, Indian food is a hands-down favorite, with Anglo-Indian chicken tikka masala often called the “national dish” of Great Britain. Japanese and Chinese food are also quite popular, though Sean believes home-cooked versions of those cuisines are always better than shortcut-heavy versions in restaurants.
“The biggest disappointment,” he writes, “is the lack of quality of Mexican food here in the UK, in our restaurants and households. In comparison to the restaurants I’ve been to in the States, the majority of the ones in England don’t come close.”
SMOKEY ANCHO CHERRY COLE SLAW
Cole slaw might not be as familiar in Great Britain as it is here, but it appeals to many of the same flavor profiles. And if the single biggest knock against cole slaw is that it tends to be boring, this version takes care of that, whether you’re enjoying it with Texas barbecue or veddy-British bangers and mash. We’ll also share the British measures and words, just in case.
1/2 cup (125 ml) good-quality mayonnaise
2 tablespoons (30 ml) Fischer & Wieser’s Smokey Ancho Cherry Sauce
2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons (10 ml) honey
Salt and black pepper to taste
½ head green cabbage, finely shredded
½ head red cabbage, finely shredded
2 large carrots, finely shredded
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (15g chopped fresh coriander leaves)
Combine mayonnaise, sauce, lime juice and honey in large bowl. Season, if desired, with salt and black pepper. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least 20 minutes before serving. Serves 6-8.