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14 February 2008

Frequently Asked Questions

So how's England?
It's a country--I think it's doing just fine. Oh, did you mean, "how is [life in] England [treating you]?" In that case, it's treating me just fine. I'm healthy and happy, though often exhausted from all the traveling I've been doing. But that's not really England's fault, now is it?

How are the Brits?
I don't think they like being called "Brits." I know the Scottish hate being called British--and don't even think about calling them English! The English, however, seem okay with it. Of course I'm lumping 50+ million people into one, much how the world lumps Americans together as heavy-set loud SUV drivers with the Bible in one hand, a double cheeseburger in the other, and a gun in the lap. [No offense to the heavy-set SUV-driving, etc., people out there!] So, it's actually pretty complex.

Wait, you mean ... there's a difference between Britain and England?
I'm surprised how often I have to explain this to people back home. Yes! Look at a map, and let me break it down: England is a ("constituent")country that occupies most (but not all) of the island of Great Britain. Also part of Britain are Wales and Scotland. Now, take Great Britain and add Northern Ireland. Voila! You now have the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland." And furthermore, if you add all of Ireland, you now the British Isles. Got it?

So what's British food like?
Ah, British (Er, I mean, English) food. At first I didn't know much about what was traditionally eaten here. All I knew was fish and chips, and that they ate haggis, which is a sheep's stomach--stop, it's already too disgusting to be eaten. Oh, and I also knew that they drank tea all the time. Well, the culinary spectrum of English foods offers more than that! I'll start with breakfast: English "bacon" is what we call "ham." And they eat beans with breakfast. It's fascinating! (You'll have to decide for yourself if it's tasty!) But it's definitely more filling than a "Continental" breakfast.
Walking through the grocery aisles one can realize what the English like to eat. There is a lot of curry. Apparently curry is now the national dish of the UK. (They love it on their wurst in Germany, by the way.) There isn't a lot of frozen food that you can just microwave. And the food spoils really quickly! They just don't have many preservatives here. Oh, there are many good pastries and pies--"Cornish pasties" are a good lunch on the go. And there's a lot of potato dishes. One big thing is Sunday Roast, which is roast beef with potatoes, gravy and Yorkshire pudding (which is spongy bread--just imagine batter baked in muffin tins). They also have "brown sauce" which is their equivalent of barbecue sauce.
Needless to say, coming from L.A., I miss the convenience of having lots of good, cheap food from all over the world available. No Mexican food, and the avocados here are just weird. But there is a good amount of Bengali cuisine available, and if you can find it, just as much variety of food from around the world in London. I had some delicious Ethiopian food this Sunday. But still, no Mexican food! But lots of baked beans.
Oh, and the tea! There's a lot of tea here. And lots of biscuits to go with the tea. But "biscuits" refers to something between what we call "cookies" and crackers. They're good--especially the "digestive biscuits."

Ok, I've gone on enough about the English and their food. Any other questions?

When are you coming home Jason?!
Oh, I don't want to think about it yet! Not that I miss home (I do!!); I just don't want to think that my year abroad is almost over.

Well, if you must know, June 7 is the last day of my housing contract.

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