If you’re not an expat, or you’re one with easy access to English food products, then you will probably find this post somewhat boring and/or a little strange.
However if, like me, you living away from home, and you the supermarkets near you which all sell pretty much the same stuff, then you might be interested. I am perhaps more obsessed than most expatriates with what goes into my stomach, but I guess it’s equally about what tickles my tastebuds. I crave variety.
Yes, I can cook curries, stir-fries and other things which are relatively easy to prepare, but hard to find in a restaurant around here, but the faintest whiff of a new, previously unavailable (or at least, which I was unaware of) British Food Product, and I’m straight off down to investigate. A friend who used to do a market research job, finding new products in local supermarkets, thought I was mad, but quite helpful, when I used to excitedly report sightings in my local Carrefour.
So when a friend reported a new “Inglaterra” section in our local Carrefour, while I was back in England -part of its revamp which also includes a mini-creche, self-service checkouts and an organic section, as well as family parking spots and electric car charging points – I wasted no time in heading there. Grinning like a loon, which guaranteed I had that area to myself. I can’t write about this without realising I do sound slightly deranged – I don’t know about other expats, but I certainly cling to anything that smacks of home. That’s not to say I don’t like it here, because I do. But I’m fairly sure any Andaluz living fuera would go mental if they saw some pata negra in their local deli.
And what did I find? Shortbread, Alpen (Swiss?), German sausages (eh?), Robinsons squashes, marmalade (of course), caster sugar… a strange old mix. Who decides what goes in there, I wonder? A fan of 1970s sitcoms?
Some products have been around for a while already, like the salted butter “From Britain” (how this is different from Spanish salted butter, I don’t know), but they also have Country Life and Clover. Chocaholics will appreciate the Chocolate Teacakes (marshmallow middle, heaven with a nice cuppa – for more about that, read on).
Shortbread is pretty recognisably English, I guess, though their Cornish clotted cream version smacks of touristic tat; and I’ve never seen squash in another country. My spy also tipped me off about frozen sausages and scones, but I couldn’t find them. Which brings me to the final, and probably most obviously British product: tea. They had shelves of it: PG Tips, Tetley and Typhoo. Now I’m an Earl Grey girl myself, but I respect such brands of tea, preferable to the like of rooibosch (bleurgh).
Now the question is, do you think these are “typically British” products (apart from the German sausage, obviously)? Would you buy them? What would you like to see in this section?