Friday, November 01, 2013

Let The Posting Begin

So it's NaBloPoMo starting to day, which seems as good a time as any to remember that I have a blog which has an audience that I enjoy entertaining.

I thought I'd start with an update to get that out of the way and force me to (mostly) write real posts going forward. Many of you were touchingly concerned about my financial situation. After an extraordinary number of phone calls and bombarding them with every document I could possibly think of, I have finally got PayPal to reinstate both of my accounts and lift the withdrawal limit on my UK account, so I can now get at my money, at least temporarily until I start actually sending it and they block everything again. I've also been able to pay back StereoNinja who had to front me the money to buy my car because of the whole my money was stranded issue. I bought another MINI because it seemed like a bad idea to be learning to drive a new car at the same time that I was learning a new road system, particularly since I live in between a terrifyingly busy roundabout and a terrifyingly narrow bridge and I was thoroughly convinced I was never going to be able to leave the island at all. I named him Basil to make a point about the difference between a person's name and a herb that goes on your pizza. It hasn't gone well.

I had been under the impression that moving here wouldn't be a terribly big adjustment, given that I've been coming here almost exclusively on holiday for years and I thought I knew the culture pretty well. But having knowledge about a place and actually living it day to day are two very different things. For example, the other day the toast got stuck in the toaster and despite the fact that I am perfectly aware that the voltage running through the walls here is twice as much as it is in my home country, StereoNinja ended up more or less vaulting the countertop to prevent me from trying to fish the toast out with a knife. Not that you should fish things out of the toaster with a knife in America either, but it's far less likely to kill you.

I've also struggled with doing the shopping. For the benefit of other Americans who may be considering moving here, allow me to give you a few tips:

  • If you ask for tomato sauce, you will invariably be given ketchup. Even though it says ketchup on the bottle and not tomato sauce. If you actually want tomato sauce you'll have to look for a package that reads "tomato passata" and it will be in a box, NOT in a can. Knowing this ahead of time could save you an hour or more.
  • The bread here is delicious, but the reason it is delicious is that it's not made almost entirely of preservatives, so if you're buying a loaf of bread, you better be prepared to eat all of it in about 2 days or else feed it to some ducks. Or swans. Feel free to come over - we have both.
  • The powdered sugar you're looking for is called icing sugar and no one knows what you're talking about if you say frosting.
  • The things over by the milk that say "milkshake" on the side in no way resemble a milkshake. Similarly, anything that says lemonade is actually Sprite. There is no actual lemonade here.
  • Hot dogs come in a can. Make of that what you will.
  • There are a ton of different kinds of sausage for sale. None of them are the sausage you are looking for.
School has also started. In typical fashion, on a course made up almost entirely of women, I've managed to befriend three people, all of whom are men. So far I haven't been shouted at for any of my t-shirts, although I was worried on Wednesday about the "I should be in the kitchen" one I was wearing. Fortunately I ended up sitting behind one of my new dude friends and no one noticed. I've also managed to use the phrase "bitches be crazy" without any adverse consequences. Though I should probably stop pushing my luck.

So that's what I've been up to so far here. Stay tuned all month for daily posts that may or may not be more interesting than this one!


TrT said...

This could be a fun game.
You tell us what you want, and we'll try and guess what its called in the UK

Ven said...

As a Brit I can tell you that:

1. Tomato sauce (American tomato sauce) may also come in a jar, but that's only posh supermarkets.

2. There are a few places that sell Betty Crocker frostings, like in Selfridges food hall, but be prepared to pay through the nose for it.

3. The only time retailers consider selling lemonade that actually has lemons in it is during summer. And you'll only be able to buy it in the more upmarket places like Marks and Spencers and Waitrose, so it's cheaper to just buy lemons and sugar and make it yourself.

4. You might find packet hotdogs if there's a Polish food section. Otherwise you're stuck with cans.

5. From my watching of Man vs Food and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives I have noted that Americans sausage is sausage meat, as opposed to ready made sausages. If you have a proper butchers near where you live I suggest you try there.

S said...

Glad you're back and posting, and financially viable once more! I'm a Brit and I am intrigued as to what you're referring to by milkshake and lemonade. What are they in America? Frijj milkshake is a thick shake like in the USA, no? I don't know the lemonade difference though (I've been to America four times but evidently I didn't try it.)

amberance said...

S - a Milkshake in the states is always always ALWAYS milk and ice cream mixed in a blender. The oddly thick milkshake things here feel weird in my mouth and make me feel like it's just milk that's gone off. Lemonade is water, fresh squeezed lemons and some sugar. No fizzy. Ever. Fizz makes it a lemon soda.

amberance said...

Ven - 1. I am but a poor student, I can't afford M&S.

2. I make my own frosting, it's just that I get blank stares when I use that word.

3. Yes, exactly.

4. Luckily, I actually don't like hot dogs. I just felt a bit sick when StereoNinja bought a can of them.

5. Sometimes yes, sometime they do actually mean sausage in a casing. It's the flavors of sausage that are the problem. There's nothing wrong with any of the sausages here, but if your recipe calls for italian sausage (meaning italian style, not from Italy)then Sainsbury's and Tesco are no help at all.

amberance said...

TrT - You're on! Without googling because it's cheating, try to identify the British versions of the following shopping list:

Corn Syrup
Sourdough pretzels

TrT said...

Golden Syrup
-try the bakery section for fruit types
Tortia / Doritoa

Best I can do :P

Maya Berger said...

Another top tip from a former North American:

Salad cream is not the same as mayonnaise, even though the bottles look similar.

Salad cream is the devil's lube.

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

Chocolate in the UK and Ireland is nicer than American chocolate, too!

But if you're a tea drinker, find a shop that sells Irish food and get Barrys ;-)

Webbo said...

I think you'll find that in actual fact ALL of the sausages are the ones you're looking for. Particularly Cumberland. Mmmm.

Hannah said...

I never knew that's what corn syrup was!!
Not knowing what things are called is always fun - I remember a very interesting conversation with my boss when I'd cut myself a needed a plaster (band aid)...

amberance said...

Pretty good TrT! You missed courgette for zucchini and crisps for chips. Sourdough pretzels was a trick question, there are no sourdough pretzels.

Sarah Pritchard said...

Re: the difference in voltage, it's actually the other way around - it's the current that will kill you, not the voltage, and while the voltage is doubled, the current (amps) actually halves, so although it is still not recommended to stick a knife into a 240V toaster, it is worse to do it to a 110V toaster. Sorry about the geek lesson, I have a family full of electricians :)