Please save yourself and your wallet by not ever ordering Nachos in England.
Last Saturday I made that mistake.
It was Saturday afternoon, cold & rainy (like most days)… all I wanted to do was watch the Tottenham game as it was the North London Derby against Arsenal. We did not have access to the game at my flat so I walked to one of the neighborhood pubs, The Cock Tavern, to watch the game.
Anyone in the United States knows ordering nachos at a bar/pub is a safe bet. You know exactly what you’re getting. A big plate of tortilla chips drenched in cheese, salsa, sour cream, gauc, and the rest of it. So when I saw that the Cock Tavern had nachos on their menu, I pounced. I really cannot stress how excited I was to feast on these little bite sized pieces of heaven.
Step 1: Denial
Upon receiving the nachos, I realized instantly that the meal was a catastrophe in the making. The plate had a British cajun seasoning covering it, which was about as tasty as you think it was. The chicken was pulled off of a roasted chicken, instead of grilled. The guac was more of a puree and don’t even get me started on the sour cream and salsa.
£7.50 down the drain.
In a fit of disappointment and rage, I left the pub after 2 bites of this horrendous excuse for nachos and walked down to the nearest McDonald’s.
Step 2: Analyze
A lot of American dishes are listed on the menus of British restaurants around London, but they tend to vary from the way they’re prepared back in the states. Hamburgers, for instance, usually come with cucumbers. Actually everything comes with cucumbers. I for one, have never been a fan of the gourd, so eating here has been a big wake up call for me.
Some observations I’ve made:
- Every sandwich is covered in mayo and usually has tuna or prawns in it.
- You can’t go a block without a place selling croissants
- British Subway’s don’t have yellow mustard, deli mustard, oil OR vinegar (I’m serious)
- No McGriddles on the McDonald’s breakfast menu.
- Chicken wings are usually grilled and don’t have buffalo sauce
- It is acceptable to order a beer at any meal, any day, regardless of whether it is during the workday or not
Step 3: Compare
2 weeks ago, my flatmates and I traveled to Copenhagen for the weekend. It was one of those impromptu trips where we booked the flight the week of, and found a hostel to stay in (https://urbanhouse.me/).
Since we all had different schedules, our departure and return flights were all different, so Friday morning we were scattered across England in the different airports throughout the Greater London area. My flight left at 6:45am, meaning I had to leave my flat around 4:45am. Rather than sleeping the night before I decided to stay up through the night and make music. The entire night the flat had this “night before vacation” feeling, as it was our first trip outside the country since arriving here in early January. After getting through the usual airport security drill, I was boarded and in Copenhagen by 9:30am, which would be 8:30 London time.
The first thing I noticed, besides everything being in Danish, was the heavy presence of Burger King and 7/11 here. No matter where you were in Copenhagen, you were never more than a 5 minute walk from one of these places. I don’t have the time to dissect the international expansion of these companies, but if I did, I’m sure I’d find an interesting overlap between the socioeconomic factors in Denmark in relation to Burger King and 7/11.
The second thing I noticed, was that the cheapest meal you could order anywhere was gonna run you at least $12-$15 USD. Even for fast food like McDonalds. This was definitely the toughest part of the trip, as every time we went out to eat it felt like I was cutting off my arm and handing it to the waiter when I paid for my food. Danish taxes are higher than in the U.S. and a lot of their food is imported, contributing to the higher prices. ( Sources: the power of deduction, a phone call with my dad, and various google searches while in Denmark). Overall the food in Denmark was decent, just expensive.
The third thing I noticed, was that downtown Copenhagen was one of the coolest places I’ve ever had a chance to see in my 20 years of living. The streets were cobblestone, lined with hanging lights, and filled with designer stores from end to end. It was the kind of setting that made you feel like you might be in a rom-com, but like a Lost in Translation rom-com, not a Crazy Stupid Love rom-com. The streets were bustling the entire weekend, regardless of the light snow, rain, and cold weather. It was the kind of weather that would keep most people from my hometown inside, but for all I know, it could have been nice weather for Copenhagen standards.
For all the complaining I’ve done in this article, I’d like to say that these observations have helped me gain new perspectives for cultures outside of the continental 48, and even some of them I am growing to like. I’d also like to mention that it is a cultural norm to “moan” about everything in England, and let’s just say I fit right in. As I conclude today’s blog post, wish me luck. I’ve got 4 papers to write, due Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, totalling 5,000 words.
P.S. here is a link to some of the music I’ve made since getting here.