Food in America is much different than in Ireland. First of all: tea just isn’t the same. Good ol’ ‘normal’ tea, not herbal tea, Earl Grey, Lord Windermere, detox tea… just the normal stuff. The easiest way to explain what normal tea is to an American is to say the following:
‘The tea that you put milk in and it doesn’t curdle.’
‘Ohhhhhh…THAT tea? You mean English Breakfast tea?’
‘Yea, that one, thanks.’
Once I realise that normal tea is something of a delicacy here I try not to panic. Being a hardcore tea addict, I can’t imagine not having nice tea.
My panic-resistance device malfunctions entirely when me and Mark go to the sausage section at Walmart.
‘Where are the normal sausages?’
‘You mean these?’ Mark holds up these skinny over-flavoured things known as sausage links.
‘No, they’re too herby, I mean just normal sausages.’
‘These are normal sausages.’
‘No they’re not. Where are the plain sausages? They’re just pale pink, they don’t have green bits in them.’
We search the extensive sausage section and all the sausages are either exotic things like salami or pale pink with green bits in them.
Don’t Americans know that only posh people eat sausages with herbs?
Normal cups of tea and normal sausages (always deep-fried) made up a significant proportion of my diet in Ireland. How will I ever cope?
Next we go and pick up some bread. It looks normal enough.
Now, I don’t know about anyone else, but for me there are two grocery items that are either used too quickly or not quickly enough: eggs and bread. There are times when I eat an omelette for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then there are other times when I don’t eat a single egg for weeks. It’s similar with bread. Sometimes you use it all in a day or two, sometimes it goes mouldy. Well, Irish bread does anyway. Not so with American bread. There have been times the bread has sat in the cupboard for weeks AND IS STILL FINE.
Hating food waste, I always do a taste-test before I throw anything out…with best-before stuff anyway.
So, the first time this happened, I didn’t know the bread was preserved using radioactive materials. I was about to throw it out before noticing there wasn’t a single bit of mould on it. This was weeks after the best-before date. I couldn’t believe it. So I took it out and tried a mouthful. Sure, it was a bit chewy, similar in chewiness to two-day-old Irish bread.
After a month.
At this point I started to consider the things conspiracy theorists say about E numbers/chemicals/brain tissue being injected into our food by government spies. Oh and the stuff they put in the water to make us all go crazy. They also add fluoride so your teeth are nice. No point in having crazy citizens with piano-key teeth, right? So, taking the shelf-life of the bread into consideration, I thought ‘maybe these people are right’.
However, I definitely think there are lots of preservatives and general artificial stuff in the food here.
So, if you’re really health conscious and actually care about what chemicals and things are in your food, I daresay you might not like some of the staple food items in Walmart.
Me, however? I’ve been blessed with a ‘I-dont-care-as-long-as-it-tastes-nice’ mentality towards food. I come from a house where you eat what’s put in front of you and that’s that.
So I’ll happily continue eating radioactive sandwiches, thank you very much.
It’s not like you can even taste it.
Wait a minute…
I just noticed my hand is turning green…