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Bye Bye England!
Food / Wine

Why will I miss England?

By Berlioz Deborah
12/01/2009

Soon I will be saying goodbye to London, my surrogate home for the past five months, and although I am excited about returning home to a place that I love, I can already feel a small feeling of nostalgia creeping towards me at the thought of leaving England. But why, exactly? It certainly has nothing to do with the weather, the underground or London's famously inflated prices...So, what will this French girl miss when she returns to the continent?

The Food

If you had told me five months ago that I would miss the English food some day, I would probably have laughed at you. I must concede that I had a lot of preconceived ideas about English cooking…sneering at the mention of British cuisine seems to be deeply instilled from birth in most of the French population. Each time I go home, all my friends repeatedly question me on how I can possibly survive English food! They still abide by the much loved stereotype that the average Briton lives on a diet of overboiled veg/meet smothered in mint sauce and simply cannot begin to imagine that there are actually a vast amount of wonderful products here!  And all the French who have ever lived in Britain would agree with me.

The English breakfast

English breakfast
English breakfast

It is such a pleasure on a Sunday morning to enjoy a real English breakfast whilst reading the paper. The eggs, the bacon, the toasts, the baked beans… The meer act of writing about it makes me drool! I shall definitely be continuing this little Sunday tradition. Unfortunately, it will have to be without the baked beans, very hard to find in France, except in Paris. So, if somebody see me wandering around the supermarkets in a desperate quest for a blue tin written “Heinz” on it, please spare a thought, I will be suffering severe withdrawal system.

The crumpets

TThese little marvels are pure magic. When they are warm and your butter is melting and filling the tiny holes… hummm… These are another thing I have never seen in France and which i will certainly miss...

The steak and ale pie

Steak and Ale pie
Steak and Ale pie

This British speciality was my first meal in an English pub. I still remember my surprise when I saw its name on the menu: “ Steak and beer together in a pie? What a strange idea!” I thought. But one has to be curious sometimes. And I was not disappointed! I liked it so much that I tracked down the recipe and prepared one for my family the last time I went back. The problem is that you can’t do a steak and ale pie without ale. And it is very hard to find this delicious beer on my side of the Channel. I guess I’ll have to find an English pub in my city!

The Lemon Curd

I am not a big fan myself, but I am sure my sister will regret the good times when I returned laden with gifts of this intriguing spread. According to her, no Lemon Curd is as good as the one which comes directly from England.

 

Shopping

The 24/7 supermarkets

24 hours supermarkets
24 hours supermarkets

I do not work very late in the evening, so I usually manage to do my shopping within decent hours. But I must concede that sometimes, when I have an especially busy week, I am very happy to find my Tesco or Asda still open at 11pm, or on Sunday- something unheard of in France where food shops occasionally even close for lunch!. But I am also somewhat glad I do not work there…

The vintage shops

London is undeniably the paradise of vintage shopping. I knew it from my very first glimpse of Londoners. From the Brick Lane shops to the various second-hand markets, vintage style is everywhere… Even in Urban Outfitters! The day you find a vintage section in a big shop in Paris, please let me know!

Going out

Order a pint without a surprised look from the waiter

Woman drinking a pint
Woman drinking a pint

In the UK, it seems perfectly normal for a woman to order a pint of beer at the pub. Try the same in Paris. You’ll probably see a strange look on the waiter’s face, making you feel uncomfortable, almost guilty. Pints are for men; and a well brought up woman has to drink wine or port. Beer can be ok as long as it is small, in a glass bottle, and says either Desperado or Corona on it. Beautiful proof of gender equality…

The choice of restaurants

Whatever you want to eat, you can always find it in London. The number and diversity of restaurants is just amazing… that is one my taste buds will definitely miss! (My purse, on the contrary, will perhaps be relieved…)

 

 

British Qualities

The British habit to send cards

A Brit
A Brit

Christmas, birthdays, or just to say thank you, any occasion is good for a Brit to write a card. It is a lovely habit we have completely lost in France. What a pity… Call me old school if you want, but I will always think that a card has much more charm than an e-mail.

Their respect of women

Since arriving in London, I have never got whistled at on the street, and no man has ever tried to touch me or my bottom on a crowded underground. I have checked in the mirror: I am not fatter than in France, nor have I suffered from a sudden bout of adult acne. So I guess the Brits  just have more respect for women…?

British politeness

When I first came, I had that cliché in mind that the Brits are all very kind and polite. I have since found out that this is actually true! Each time I asked a Londoner for directions, for instance, he always seemed happy to help me. In Paris you should consider yourself lucky if somebody even deigns to answer you! I also love the nicknames British people give me so easily, such as “my love”, or “sweet heart”. I have never heard one salesman or waiter naming me “mon coeur” or “mon

A Punk in Camden
A Punk in Camden

amour” in France (they usually limit themselves to aggressive grunting) And I must say I would find it very strange! But here it seems natural; and those little names often brighten up my day.

Londoners’ style

When it comes to clothes, the Londoners never cease to amaze me. From Camden’s punks, to City suits and flashy girls in nightclubs; I have never seen such a style diversity in one city. It gave me the wonderful feeling that I could wear whatever I wanted and that nobody would care.

 

The Brits

Finally, what I will miss the most when I leave Britain is, quite simply, the Brits… Ok, I am not always receptive to their sense of humour, but their politeness, welcoming smiles and amazing sense of fun and style is something that I will find hard to leave behind.

In a word, I spent a meer five months here, but it was enough for me to learn to love this city. I will miss England, that is certain, but I also know it won't be too long before I come back...

And you, what would you miss if you were leaving Britain?

Read also: Those little French things we all miss

COMMENTS:

29/11/2012 - jandick said :

One of my oldest freinds lives in SA and in all these years I've never traveled there. I certainly hope to do it one day. Just so charming. And a super time of the year to go, for sure. That white lunar landscape looks like my house. We have 5-feet of snow on the ground and huge icicles. Thanks for stopping by. Jane

15/05/2012 - davidbath1979 said :

I've been living in Japan for 7 years (not entirely of my own free will) and I'm so homesick for the UK. I know (as you probably do too) that we can be rude on occasion, but when we're polite it's sincere. That's not always the case here. Japanese are lovely beautiful people but I miss the sincerity of the UK. So glad you like Britain (try the North some time!).

06/03/2012 - training said :

And I thought I was the sensible one. Thanks for setting me striahgt.

04/02/2011 - lizzyjay87 said :

As a brit myself, reading that article made me want to stay here, rather than move abroad as I have been intending. The thing I'm going to miss most would have to be the British humour, foreigners never seem to understand it or our light-hearted sarcasm. British people are also much more polite and patient!

15/12/2010 - Ummyusef said :

Thank you so much for your wonderful comments about London and England. I have spent a few years in Dubai and Am now desperate to go back to the Uk. Dubai seemed fun at first but after a while you realize that Uk has better shopping, friendlier people, better Heathcare and schools and is much cheaper and so many activities to do. Plus beautiful countryside, castles, theatres, I could go on and on. Living away from England has made me realize that it is actually a wonderful place.

27/10/2010 - biche said :

In 1966 I came to England to spend one year as a French "assistante". I am still here!! I'd miss the charity shops if I left.

29/06/2010 - 176094885 said :

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22/06/2010 - oapril29 said :

visted London for 3 days and England for a total of 11 days I miss it so much! I am considering moving to London from the States with my company...

21/04/2010 - xtrasauc said :

I love (and miss) London too. My spiritual home.

04/03/2010 - david_binfield_9 said :

Moved from England to America... miss it so much! :'(

06/10/2009 - cral99 said :

I am originally from England and miss it a hell of a lot. Loved your article! It brought a smile to my face. Camden is the place to be. :)

28/01/2009 - nicolaspansier said :

Not too sure about your last comment: will you miss the brits more, or will you merely miss London? Nevertheless I have lived in London for 15 years and this is my home, the place I will always yearn for, where my family expanded.
I have considered, and still do at times, moving back to France, but always there is this feeling of out of place, despite the goodness of French lifestyle.
And so far, London and Britain have had a stronger power than France...

14/01/2009 - magnificent_moosettina said :

Vive la difference! what about the British Television, the BBC without advertisements? The London taxi and its quirkiness, yet club like atmosphere. Your local pub, and the lack of a nosey concierge? The tremendous fresh sandwich bars like Pret a Manger for instance, and the amazing choice of so many ethnic dining experiences in one place, fusion, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Malay,a gastronomic world on your doorstep,- a much wider chice, compared to Paris.
By the way baked beans is an American import, black pudding is far more British, if a Northern tradition!

14/01/2009 - Valierb said :

I do agree with you....whenever I go " home " i cannot wait to be back in London ...well it is understandable ...after 29 years ...I should know !!

14/01/2009 - richardhernaman said :

Yes that was nice! What about things you won't miss, just out of interest?
All the best on your journey home.

13/01/2009 - committedto.fabulousness said :

What a lovely story you write, and so nice to read!
I`m glad that you found things to like also.
Enjoy your trip home and I hope you come back to visit soon. :)

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