Back to work tomorrow, and it's pretty much a normal Sunday here in the house except I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and didn't get back to sleep. A good day for a birthday!
So I consider this to be the last true day of my vacation, and shall take it easy – the best thing to do while still jet-lagged.
Idling though, I find myself turning a fairly frivolous comparison between England and America, or more specifically my life in St. Louis and what I experienced on my vacation.
So let's so how things compare. Let's start with something dear to my heart.
Food and Drink – a split decision.
Dairy products, especially cheese, are vastly superior in England. Only if you go to a specialist cheese maker or import delicatessen in the U.S. will you find anything approaching the taste and variety of mainstream cheeses available in England. Supermarket american cheese (including the interchangeable Colby and Chedder varieties) is bland, texturally insipid and devoid of character. Good really only as an innocuous source of fat.
Sausages – a U.S. win. English supermarket sausages are bland, insipid and devoid of character and almost devoid of meat. The story is exactly the opposite to that of cheese. American Supermarket sausages are meaty and flavorful, something I attribute to the German influence, particularly in the St. Louis area.
Baked beans – a ubiquitous component of the 'Full English Breakfast'. You would think they would therefore be pretty good. They are not. American baked beans are much better, much more richly flavored and bigger too.
Eggs – about the same.
Hamburger meat – English is better, much more flavorful, especially if it is Aberdeen Angus. This surprised me, but there it is.
Pub and restaurant food – depends largely on the source, but a pub is a better bet for a good meal than any American chain restaurant. You pay for it though, about twice as much.
Fish – better in England, naturally enough given all that sea close by. I'm sure American coastal regions would compare just as well.
Bacon – English pork is better tasting.
Chicken – about the same.
Lamb – better in England, probably because it is much more popular there than in the U.S.
Vegetables – about the same, again local and fresh market produce always wins.
Bread – more types and varieties available in England.
Beer – when I first came to this country about 30 years ago, this would have been a no-contest win for England. Not so now. The explosion of microbreweries all over the U.S. has produced a wealth and depth of beers that is equivalent to that in England. It's cheaper in the U.S. too.
Cider – alas, America has a way to go here. By the way, cider in the U.K. is not apple juice, it's that wonderful fermented drink. You can buy it in Missouri supermarkets, but it's still at the Strongbow/Woodpecker equivalent stage of marketing – in other words, pleasant but characterless.