The four foods (and two drinks) we miss most when overseas…

York, November 2015

I was scrounging around for inspiration for this week’s Lovin’ Life post when I saw this article by Ben Groundwater – who happens to be my absolute favourite travel writer. Quite coincidentally hubby asked me what food we’re taking in our suitcases to the UK with us and then Sarah wondered aloud how much mangos were likely to cost. 

With apologies to Ben for the blatant rip-off of his headline title, I had my post.

To backtrack just a tad, in just over 8 weeks we’ll be off to the UK for almost 4 weeks. We’ll be there for Christmas and New Year – our very first in the Northern Hemisphere. We’re hoping for snow. Naturally, I’ll tell you lots more about our plans leading up to it, but right now with all big-ticket items – flights, accommodation, car hire and Christmas dinner – booked we’re beginning to get into the finer details…hence the discussion about food.

‘We’ll need to take vegemite,’ said Grant. ‘And peanut butter. Remember how sugary the peanut butter was?’

‘Remember how much that mango was?’ added Sarah. (For the record, the mango in question was in Fortnum’s food hall and was imported from somewhere or the other – mangos not being exactly plentiful in an English winter (who wouldv’e thought it?) – and cost the equivalent of about $15AUD.)

Aside from the Christmas festivities, there’s plenty that we’re looking forward to about the food in England. There’s pub food, bacon butties, pork pies, mulled wine at the Christmas markets and the Sunday roast at the local.

I can still taste the oysters we had with prosecco at stupid o’clock at Borough Markets, and don’t get me started on the scones. Sarah and Grant both love the sweetie shops and English chocolate, we’re all partial to a good Cheddar, Stilton or Red Leicester cheese, and it will never cease to amaze me just how many great soups can be made from parsnip. And, I’m just getting started.

For us, much of the joy in travelling is food – reacquainting ourselves with old favourites, discovering new favourites, enjoying local produce and, in this case, the upside-down seasonality. I could (and probably will) write more words than you’d want to read about what we’re looking forward to – even Brussels sprouts sold on the stem that taste nothing like the Brussels sprouts I had when I was a kid (sorry Mum).

With so much to look forward to it’s a tad counter-intuitive to talk about the things that we’ll miss while we’re away. But, for the purposes of this post, that’s exactly what I’m doing – talking about the food (and two drinks) that might possibly, ever-so fleetingly, be lamented at some point during the course of the 4 weeks that we’ll be away from Australia.

Fresh fruit

To be fair, we’re travelling in the English winter, but even so we’re used to a plethora of fresh fruit all year round from our farmer’s markets.

I’m looking forward to trying clementines and English apples, but I know that the first thing Sarah will do when arriving home is buy a box of mangos from that place near the fish markets at Mooloolaba.

I’ll miss Noosa Red tomatoes, but that goes without saying. They are the best tomatoes I’ve ever tasted.

Steak and salad

This is usually the meal we all want first when landing back in Aus.

Good steak in the UK is a lot more expensive than good steak here is. Then there’s the salad. While things had definitely improved last trip (November/December 2015) to how they were on the trip before that (many years previously) a good mixed leaf salad that is more than just a garnish is hard enough to come by that we’re usually craving it by the time we head home. 

Asian Food

We love the Indian restaurants in the UK with their Bollywood tinted yoghurt, but when away we miss Vietnamese and Thai food. There are some very good South-East Asian restaurants in London, but other than 5 days in London, we’ll be mostly in the country.

There are those who say the best Vietnamese and Thai food can be found in Australia. I don’t necessarily disagree with that.

Coffee

I’m mostly a tea drinker so will be in my element, but Grant really has trouble getting a decent coffee – especially outside of London, and indeed, also in London. In Australia and New Zealand, we truly are spoilt when it comes to coffee.

Sourdough

We have a Dutch baker down the road who bakes fabulous sourdough, and an artisan baker who attends the markets each week whose bread is next-level good.

Decent sourdough can be surprisingly hard to source. There are some good bakeries popping up in the UK – I think I probably follow them all on Instagram – but the challenge will be finding them in close-ish proximity to where we’ll be staying.

Kiwi Pinot Gris

You can get Australian wine in England, but mostly, aside from a few exceptions, it’s the Australian wine that we export rather than drink. Did that come out loud? Besides which, I mostly drink New Zealand wine anyways.

This, however, is only a half-miss as I’ll be too busy enjoying English ale and European wines to remember to miss the Kiwi varieties – until I’m home, that is.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this. No matter how much you enjoy the thrill of the new, there are some tastes of home that you can’t help but miss – even a little…so go on, I’ve told you mine, what are yours? And, if you’re in the UK, what shouldn’t we miss, food-wise, in Yorkshire and The Cotswolds?

It’s Thursday, so time to share what we’re loving about life. You know the drill by now, click on the linky below…you know you want to…

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Author: Jo

I write, I bake, I chase sunrises.

19 thoughts

  1. I noted Amy Andrews talked about heading to the UK in December as well. It’s still my dream to have a white Christmas at some point so I’ll enjoy yours (and the prosecco but not the oysters) virtually.

    And it’s funny isn’t it that I always then to think of Asian food (or even culture) as those closest to us (South East Asian) rather than western Asian.

    Sometimes I’ve struggled with some stuff when travelling like, the chocolate I’m familiar with is made differently, or there aren’t as many flavours of chips (crisps) etc.. You know me and my extravagant palate!

    1. I saw that about Amy too. She’ll be in Scotland I think. It’s funny how we were both in France at the same time too. In the UK “Asian” refers to Indian and Pakistan ie the sub-continent whereas for us it’s SE Asian. As an aside, Grant and Sarah love all the different crisps flavours! I think he even got haggis flavoured ones last time.

  2. I must say when I’m in the UK I really miss good coffee, good sourdough, quality meat (not that I eat a lot of it when I’m down under but it’s such good quality) and of course dumplings! If you’re in Yorkshire and anywhere near a Betty’s Tea Room you should definitely try a Fat Rascal. Nom nom! Don’t get me started on the food I miss from England, ALL the sweets for starters, those mini pork pies with pickle from M and S, Yorkshire puddings big enough to eat your dinner in and fish and chips. I will enjoy eating vicariously and virtually following along on your adventures!

    1. Ooooh I’ll look out a Fat Rascal (I’ve just finished googling it). Fish & chips with curry sauce (Grant loves the mushy peas) & dumplings were the one food group I forgot that I’ll miss! (Somehow I don’t think there’ll be a New Shanghai in Tetbury…)

  3. I’m not foodie enough to miss much when I’m away – but Vegemite would be a must. And as for coffee – I couldn’t believe how horrible French coffees were when we were in Europe. I gave up and just waited til I got back to the boat to have coffee – the others were strong, bitter and just horrible. I remember how much better our fruit and salad stuff was than what was on offer too – we’re very blessed here with our climate for things like that.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

  4. Sheesh what is it about coffee other countries do not understand? My trip to the US (only OS trip) saw me searching for half decent flat whites which were never small (everything in US seems LARGE) and sweet. I finally got a barista at a bookstore to pour me two shots of coffee…I added a few drops of milk and ahhh. something that was OK. I must say it sounds very exciting what you have planned. You are making the most of life’s experiences and that is grand. Denyse

  5. Oh how exciting to be heading off to the UK for Christmas! One very major item on my bucket list is to experience a white Christmas so I’ll be very, very jealous – especially if you get snow! If I were away from Australia for a great length of time i would definitely need to take some Vegemite … and I’d need my rye cruskits and maybe some coffee … hmmm this list could grow! I look forward to hearing more about your upcoming trip! 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

  6. Hi, Jo – I tried hard to think of the foods that I miss most when I am in England….but all that I could think about was the foods that I LOVE when there. Bangers and mash (with lots of gravy), mushy peas, shepherd’s pie, mince pie, fish and chips, Sunday roast, Yorkshire pudding, crumpets with jam, High Tea…you get the idea. Best of all, if we are not eating out, our youngest son, who lives in Lincolnshire, does the cooking. I’d sent you over to his place but he’ll be with us in Canada for Christmas. 😀

    1. We love ALL of that… somehow I don’t think my excess baggage program will get much of a look in when we’re over there! It’s going to be so weird for us having a cool Christmas – we’re used to air conditioning and prawns & can’t wait for the difference.

  7. Hope you have a wonderful time. I have absolutely no problem with you taking the snow out there. We get more than our share in Canada. The first snowfall is beautiful. Bring some flavored syrup in case you have the chance to eat your first snow cone. Just make sure its clean snow. LOL

    1. You know I’ve only just started seeing poutine on menus – mostly on food vans/street food trucks. I’d never even heard of it before then!

  8. Hi Jo, there’s probably not too much I’d miss if traveling in terms of food. But, no matter where I go, near or far, a strong, fresh cup of coffee can be a challenge. I was away last weekend on a short jaunt with family and although it was lovely, the first thing I did when I walked in the door of my home was turn on the brewer and make my own coffee! #MLSTL

  9. What a thoughtful comparison of your favorite foods in both hemispheres. I have not been to England or Australian so cannot offer an opinion other than to say I would like to visit both. I have only heard of vegemite from the old Men Down Under song in the ’80s or ’90s. Would like to taste that!

  10. Too funny on the vegemite and the peanut butter, Joanne. You reminded me of the mulled wine. I have to make sure I have ingredients at my house for the winter. We usually have a mulled cider and a mulled wine. I did not know Brussels sprouts came on a stem. I am with your Grant on the coffee. I am a rare tea drinker. Another first for me, Kiwi Pinot Gris? Something new in our neck of the woods: “Fatso” peanut butter. Quite a story behind it with many health benefits. Accepted well by I think, Dragon’s Den. Local. Can google all about it. And, very tasty! I always enjoy your posts, Joanne:) #MLSTL and shared on SM

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