Friday, July 24, 2015

Things I do that Amuse and Bemuse Americans

Shaking the Milk

I grew up having the milkman deliver milk, in glass bottles, to the doorstep – sometimes before we even woke up.   And I remember sometimes getting home from work and finding the milk still on the doorstep and almost gone off because it had been sitting in the sun all day (well, kind of – it was England, after all).  But the best bit of the milk, was the thick glob of cream at the top of every bottle.  Which meant you had to shake the bottle to mix it up before you used it.  Even when it was already open, you had to take it out of the fridge and give it a shake before you topped up your tea because the cream always rises, as they say.

This is one of the things I cannot stop doing.  I’ve had many a strange look when I take the humongously massive plastic bottle out of the fridge and shake it up and down before making a cuppa.  Nobody does that here, and its probably due to the fact that the milk isn’t creamy at all.  There’s even a 2% - what does that even mean?  Having tried some of it, I think it’s 2% milk and 98% water.  Oh, and it lasts forever - you can keep in in the fridge for weeks, and it's still okay.  Try that in England and it will probably walk out the fridge on its own.
Not Leaving the Tea Bag in the Cup

Not sealed at all
Can anything be worse than trying to drink a cup of tea and having the teabag hitting you in the face with every sip? 

I see my American co-workers drinking tea and leaving the little tag hanging over the edge of the cup all the time and I've been asked why I don't leave my bag in there.  They say it should be left in the cup so your tea gets stronger as you drink it.  This is a bit of a misnomer as American tea never gets strong enough.  

And I have found out, much to my chagrin, that the more you dunk the bag, the more tea leaves fall out and you end up with a leafy mess.  It’s not surprising really, as the bags are only clipped and folded at one end and not sealed like they are in England.  It's just asking for trouble, if you ask me!

Milk in Tea

On the same note, people are often fascinated that I actually do put milk in my tea.  

In every restaurant I’ve ever been in you must ask for “hot” tea otherwise you will end up with iced tea.  You will get hot water, a (weak) teabag, a bottle of honey and some lemon slices.   If you don’t specifically ask for milk (which you have to remember to call “creamer”) that’s all you get.

There’s a small cafĂ©/restaurant near my house that I’ve been to quite a few times and when I ask for tea there, the waitress says “Oh yes, English tea…. With creamer.”  Well, at least they’re learning! (But then again, have you ever tasted tea with fake creamer... bleh).

Not Liking Cinnamon

Now, I’m not saying I don’t like cinnamon at all, I mean, when I was at school we would make a fruit salad in home economics and put a cinnamon stick in the juice to give it a little flavour… but you would take it out before you poured it all over the fruit.  Subtlety was the key.

Not so in America.  There seems to be cinnamon in absolutely bloody everything and it’s not just a pinch here and there, it’s a dessert spoonful, or more!   There are even fast food places that are dedicated to it for goodness sake.  Cinnabon sells only cinnamon rolls and when I walk past in the mall I have to hold my breath.  I don’t understand the fascination with one particular spice, but I’m told that I’m weird because I don’t like it.  I think I should just say I’m deathly allergic to it.


My "Mom" face!
I can’t say mom…. Yep, you read that right – I cannot say M.O.M.  (and I know you all just said it to yourselves, didn’t you?)  

It’s not  that I often use the word, I much prefer mum (obviously) but someone asked me the other day to pronounce it and I just couldn’t.  It actually hurts my mouth when you have to try to enunciate the ‘o’ rather than the ‘u’ and then I feel like I’m making a strange contorted kind of face and my tongue aches right at the back.  

Yes, I apparently am weird.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Birthday Celebrations

Today is my birthday (my 20th birthday celebrated in the good ole USofA) and it made me think about what I miss from working in England. 

Buying doughnuts for everyone in the office  

I don’t know if this still happens, but when I was working in England, if it was your birthday, YOU were the one who had to buy the cakes for the office.  I don’t know why this was or who decided it was a thing, but it definitely made sure you got a cake – usually lovely real cream doughnuts.  Could get a bit expensive though, depending on the size of the office.  (I don't miss having to buy the doughnuts, but I do miss the actual doughnuts).
Drooling.....I miss real cream
Alcohol related presents

To be honest, this does happen here too (to me anyway, I wonder if they are trying to tell me something). The only difference is it’s not acceptable to have a glass of wine/vodka/rum on your tea break in America.  This is merely a technicality though, because there is no such thing as a ‘tea break’ in the USA.  I think I just found a loophole

Drinking at lunchtime

If you worked in town, there was usually a pub or wine bar less than a stone’s throw from the office so if there was a birthday, it was guaranteed that the office would be there at lunchtime, possibly a little longer than a usual lunch though.  Food was not involved.

Drinking after work

Once you had stumbled your inebriated self through the afternoon, hopefully not making too many mistakes, it was back off to the pub for an after work drinkie, which invariably lasted into the late evening even though you were “only staying for one.”

You can get home

Even if you are six sheets to the wind, you can get home.  Public transport is there to take care of you. Once you’ve found the right bus stop, you’re all set.  You just have to make sure you get on the right bus and it will drop you off close enough to your house so you can crawl on your hands and knees to the front door.  I am not saying I’ve ever done this, of course, but you could if you needed to.  [*cough, cough*]

Not so in America.  The lack of public transportation puts a damper on any after work frivolity because you need to stay sober so you can drive home.  Party pooper…

So yes, it’s my birthday, I didn’t get a real cream doughnut, I won’t be having a liquid lunch and I won’t be going to the pub after work.  But then again, I’m not a teenager any more and I’m sure if I did,  I would need tomorrow off work …..

But be sure, I will be celebrating.  And as the Irish say:

“It is better to spend money like there's no tomorrow
than to spend tonight like there's no money.”