All the recent hullabaloo around the royal baby has made me nostalgic for Britannia. Thanks to school grants and the generosity of good friends with large apartments, I have been fortunate enough to have been able to spend a decent amount of time in London and its environs. When I wasn't holed up in the Wellcombe library reading about cholera epidemics, I was eating (infectious disease research never ruins my appetite). I miss British fare, but thankfully many of my local grocery stores have imported some terrific English products. Here are my top five:
5. Heinz Curry Beanz. In a land where chicken tikki masala was once called the national dish, it's unsurprising that culinary influence from the colonies would also extend to another British staple. The "z" in the label refers to the extra zip in the beans from the mustard and other "curry" spices. I suggest spreading them on toast, or, better yet, naan.
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4. Robinsons. "Fruit & Barley" may not initially seem to be an appetizing pairing for a nonalcoholic beverage, but trust me, Robinsons (est. 1823) knows what they're doing. They've expanded into more exotic flavors, but the traditional Orange and Black Currant (which are more easily found in the United States anyway) are my favorite because of their pure, clean fruit taste.
3. Heinz Spaghetti. I don't know what exactly prompted me to eat canned noodles amid so many other more sophisticated food options in the UK. I think I was tired and just looking for a very cheap dinner; what I found was this amazing Spaghetti-O's knockoff. Granted, the sauce tastes more like ketchup than marinara, but with a good sprinkle of parmesan, you have a pasta dinner of champions for pennies.
2. Ambrosia Devon Custard. Just don't even reach for a bowl and eat straight out of the can because there's no way you'll want to share this custard with anyone else. The "custard" texture is in fact that of a thick, creamy porridge and the flavor is a sweet vanilla buttermilk. I like to add a drizzle of honey and a few berries to dress it up, even if I am eating it out of the can.
1. Milk Chocolate Hob-Nobs. We live in a nation with such cookie diversity that no one even bats an eye at the appearance of watermelon Oreos, yet so conspicuously absent from our baked good melting pot is anything resembling a delectable Hob-Nob. By combining oaty wafers and silky chocolate, McVitie's has effectively produced a mildly sweet cookie so hearty and crunchy that it can only be called a "biscuit." And eaten, if you like, for breakfast.