May 2, 2008

"It's a very sickly-sweet, dark biscuit and I was expecting more from it."

Brits — who don't even know the word "cookie" — try to deal with Oreos.
The slogan is "twist, lick, dunk" and the television advert features a boy demonstrating the technique to his dog.

"This ritual that comes with Oreo makes it more than a biscuit," says Ms McNulty. "The ritual elevates it to a moment of child-like delight and a warm family moment. 'Twist, lick and dunk' is the language we use. Around the world, 'twist, lick and dunk' is Oreo."...

But self-appointed biscuit expert Stuart Payne, author of A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down, says he was under-whelmed and disappointed by them.

"It's like someone rudely coming into your home and telling you how to arrange your settee. It arrives here and says: 'I'm Oreo and this is what you do with me.'" [Said Stuart Payne, author of "A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down."]

"Well we've had biscuits for a long time and we know what to do."
The linked article, from BBC.com, has comments. Here's one that amuses me:
I've been eating Oreos for a few months and while they are nice enough I have to say that the whole twist thing is rubbish. You cannot just twist it apart if you try it will just shatter in your hand. I found that you have to use the same method used for the custard cream ... bite one half of the biscuit off. And taste wise the custard cream beats it hands down, all in all i cant see it beating our British fave anytime soon.
And:
I've tried these, and was disappointed. The dark colouring makes them look as if they'll be really dark-chocolatey, which would be great, but they aren't at all. Give me a plain chocolate digestive any day!
Digestive....
Ugh! These monstrosities, like Hershey's revolting "chocolate" just go to reinforce the stereotype that Americans have no sense of quality. Give me a custard cream every time!
Hey, come on. It's not like these are out best cookies. They are children's cookies.

And here's a Wall Street Journal article about Oreos in China
The company developed 20 prototypes of reduced-sugar Oreos and tested them with Chinese consumers before arriving at a formula that tasted right....
In China, Kraft began a grassroots marketing campaign to educate Chinese consumers about the American tradition of pairing milk with cookies. ...

Still, Kraft realized it needed to do more than just tweak its recipe to capture a bigger share of the Chinese biscuit market. China's cookie-wafer segment was growing faster than traditional biscuit-like cookies...

So in China in 2006 Kraft remade the Oreo itself, introducing for the first time an Oreo that looked almost nothing like the original. The new Chinese Oreo consisted of four layers of crispy wafer filled with vanilla and chocolate cream, coated in chocolate....

NOTE: Nice video at the last link, which I used to have embedded, but removed. Too slow-loading.

96 comments:

Maguro said...

But self-appointed biscuit expert Stuart Payne, author of A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down, says he was under-whelmed and disappointed by them.

How can we take this article seriously when they won't even take the time to find a properly credentialed biscuit expert?

Simon said...

I will admit - Victoria can back me up here - that I miss chocolate digestives. And good chocolate generally - you can get good chocolate and good beer in America, but the run-of-the-mill American chocolate and beer is woefully inferior to British equivalents. Of course you can cite Godiva, but that's effectively a gourmet selection that compares to Thornton's, not to "everyday" chocolate.

vbspurs said...

Brits — who don't even know the word "cookie"

Two nations separated by the same language, my sweet professor.

We call the tasty morsels biscuits, and you're welcome to eat them whenever you pop 'round.

Cheers,
Victoria

rhhardin said...

A Radio Taiwan segment on Chinese Cooking in the 90s began the series by saying that Chinese and Western ideas of what is edible differ considerably.

Meade said...

I was hoping that they discovered the Chinese didn't find Oreos appealing until Kraft laced them with LSD.

vbspurs said...

I will admit - Victoria can back me up here - that I miss chocolate digestives

Ooh yes, nothing like a good McVitie's digestive bikky.

I will confess, Simon and my fellow Althousians, that I hate chocolate. I may be the only woman in the world who does, but there you are.

I loathe Oreos. I cannot abide those Keebler Elves' thingies either. But then, I have no sweet tooth to speak of.

I also am embarrassed by the patently condenscending tone of "We do it better than the Americans" by the BBC commenters -- which I suspect prompted Ann's uncharacteristically whiffy remark about cookies.

Just remember, Americans have the upper-hand today, vis-a-vis the British. Brits are OBSESSED with America. It's all they ever talk about, usually to get a snipe in like all people with inferiority/superiority complexes.

Thank heavens for turkey, the food which brings us together.

Cheers,
Victoria

Revenant said...

you can get good chocolate and good beer in America, but the run-of-the-mill American chocolate and beer is woefully inferior to British equivalents

The real deficit isn't the beer -- there's plenty of great American beer these days -- but the cider. It is strange to me that hard cider just isn't that popular in the United States. People drink weird crap like Zima and wine coolers, but just try getting a pint of cider in a bar.

Revenant said...

It's all they ever talk about, usually to get a snipe in like all people with inferiority/superiority complexes.

I think it upsets a lot of Americans to be bashed by Brits, because for the most part we view the UK as sort of like our cool older brother nation -- maybe not as tough and fit as it used to be, but smart and classy. Americans think this because they've never seen the crowd at an English football game.

vbspurs said...

I think it upsets a lot of Americans to be bashed by Brits

Only some, and I think those are mostly the ones who go there, and don't want to be put down at cocktail parties, or are inveterate Anglophiles.

Other Americans treat the British as dotty old uncles and aunties, with quaint funny ways, half-admiringly, half wishing to disembowel them.

The latest craze in Britain, is whenever America is mentioned, is to call all Americans fat.

It's a social stigma to be fat in the UK, though if you've ever been to Scotland, you know not all Brits are reed thin...

So whenever you feel that attitude descending on you, my newly fellow Americans, just diss them right back making fun of Charles and his tranny wife, our teeth, and the fact that the British are HUGELY ignorant of foreign peoples whenever they travel.

It's not like we can talk, though of course, we feel we can. We got that snobbishness from the French.

Cheers,
Victoria

rhhardin said...

Stephen Potter, for Americanmanship visiting Britain, suggests calling everything quaint, asking if they have TV yet over here, and carrying a thermos of hot coffee.

Meade said...

Poor Althouse has never gotten over not being Hayley Mills.

Simon said...

Victoria, that's okay, I love chocolate enough for the both of us. ;)

Victoria said...
"I also am embarrassed by the patently condenscending tone of "We do it better than the Americans" by the BBC commenters "

And then Revenant said...
"I think it upsets a lot of Americans to be bashed by Brits, because for the most part we view the UK as sort of like our cool older brother nation -- maybe not as tough and fit as it used to be, but smart and classy. Americans think this because they've never seen the crowd at an English football game."

And Simon says... that I get very angry with British expats who speak condescendingly about America - I'm not talking about minor stuff like the examples I noted above, or sports, but I've talked to people who really look down their noses at this country. And to add insult to injury, they assume that because we have roughly the same accent and locale of birth, we share a common disdain for America, that we naturally see ourselves as expats - people who happen to be living here, in America but not of it. I don't think very highly of that mindset, I'm afraid, and saying that Britain came first rather reminds of the old retort that the reason God made woman second was that He likes to make a prototype first in order to work out all the bugs before the production model.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I have to agree with the Brits who were unhappy. The slogan is the problem. They are talking about the qualities of the product BEFORE we had the cholesterol, trans fat, nanny, don't eat that!!! police screwing up everything we eat.

You 'used' to be able to screw off the two halves of the cookie because the cream was soft (never-mind what it was made of) and the cookie was soft....maybe for the same reason.

So, yes... the cookies pretty much sucks today. It doesn't live up to the hype and nostalgia. Oreos are of another generation.

Simon said...

"It's a social stigma to be fat in the UK, though if you've ever been to Scotland, you know not all Brits are reed thin..."

It's going to kill them when Chloe wins. Hope it hurts... ;)

former law student said...

1. Hydrox came first.
2. My brother would scrape off the sugar/crisco(swiftning?) "creme" first, then stack the chocolate rounds in the breadbox the cookie jar sat on.
3. British chocolate is, of course, American chocolate, only sweeter: witness the Mars bar, a sweeter version of the American Milky Way.
4. The rest of Europe considers British chocolate to be "imitation" because of its high levels of vegetable fat.

MadisonMan said...

I once got my hands on some of the cocoa that is used to make Oreos. It's really over-roasted so it's black and it smells somewhat burnt. It was fun to make "Oreos" but with a nice butter cream middle. Alas, we only got about 4 cups of the stuff and it was gone in a flash.

I've often thought of trying to roast regular cocoa to reproduce the black cocoa of Oreos, but then I realized that (1) that was a lot of work and (2) I don't like oreos that much.

Revenant said...

Other Americans treat the British as dotty old uncles and aunties, with quaint funny ways

Well, those ARE the television shows you keep sending us. :)

MadisonMan said...

Incidentally, I'd much rather eat Fig Newtons.

Revenant said...

Those new Chinese wafer Oreos look like TimTams.

chuck b. said...

Oreo cookies are a guilty pleasure of mine. It's gross, but I can--and sometimes do--eat a whole bag of Oreos in one sitting, with a half-gallon of milk.

And then have dinner.

That's something I'd never tell anyone in real life.

(It only works because I never seem to put on weight no matter how much crap I eat.)

I draw the line at the double-stuff Oreos. Those are just gross.

That said, European chocolate is far superior to any mass market American chocolate.

Daryl said...

It's gross, but I can--and sometimes do--eat a whole bag of Oreos in one sitting, with a half-gallon of milk.

That's basically why I never buy Oreos.

rcocean said...

I liked Oreo's as a little kid because I didn't know any better.

But Cookie Technology has made great advances in the last 25 years; we no longer have to settle.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Brilliant.

I never eat the chocolate part. I just scrape off the
cream and discard the cardboard cookie. Although, if you crush up the cookie it is acceptable to use as a topping on frozen yogurt, but that's where I draw the line.

Middle Class Guy said...

"Ugh! These monstrosities, like Hershey's revolting "chocolate" just go to reinforce the stereotype that Americans have no sense of quality. Give me a custard cream every time!"


Of course during WWII the Brits did not mind Hershey's "revolting chocolate" that the GIs had and SHARED with them and the rest of Europe. Ungrateful, uppity, tasteless, classless, and totally unappreciative people. No wonder there is no such thing as British haute cuisine. Their idea of fine dining is boiled until tasteless. Big deal, they created the tea.

The only culinary delight in jolly olde england is fish and chips. Screw them. Give me my Oreos any day. I wondder what they would they would think of our iconic classic- chocolate chip cookies- or biscuits as they call them.

chuck b. said...

Under Henry VIII, England destroyed its monasteries (and their elaborate potagers). Subsequent English landscape traditions devalued the working garden. The results were disastrous for English cuisine. Happily, events unfolded differently in France...

vbspurs said...

Of course during WWII the Brits did not mind Hershey's "revolting chocolate" that the GIs had and SHARED with them and the rest of Europe. Ungrateful, uppity, tasteless, classless, and totally unappreciative people.

That's really going too far, Middle Class Guy. I am not one to take offence, especially regards anything British (being like Simon, very pro-American), but if you don't want to hear nastiness about your people, then don't fling it about yourself.

Remember, our lads are dying alongside your lads in Iraq, and we're your best friends, no matter our idiosyncrasies.

Cheers,
Victoria

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Incidentally, I'd much rather eat Fig Newtons.

Madison Man. Let me dig up my recipe for home made 'fig' or fruit newtons. It's been a while since I've made them Apricot 'newton's are my favorite.

Plum/prune is pretty good too. :-D

former law student said...

Don't forget the biggest contribution the Brits made to food: Mad Cow disease. Only the Brits could think of turning herbivores into omnivores. Although he avoided beef, a friend of mine who worked in England for a year could never get used to the taste of British chicken: fed on fishmeal it was too fishy to be enjoyable.

As far as British beer goes, it's tragic how lagers, including Bud, are driving out the traditional ales.

Trooper York said...

Speakin' as a half an Irishman, one shouldn't take the word of perfidious Albion on cookies or anything of a gastronomical bent. Now if we only had a colonial people to oppress, they would be our go to guys. Just sayn'

Chip Ahoy said...

Jaffa cakes! Jaffa cakes!Jaffa cakes!Jaffa cakes!Jaffa cakes!Jaffa cakes!

Did I mention Jaffa cakes?

Chip Ahoy said...

Oh. And Chips Ahoy, of course.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

FLS...come on now. Spotted Dick has to have been a big contribution. Don't you think?

Simon said...

Middle Class Guy said...
"Of course during WWII the Brits did not mind Hershey's "revolting chocolate" that the GIs had and SHARED with them and the rest of Europe."

In addition to Victoria's reply, that's just a silly comparison. When you're dealing with acute shortages and/or rationing, you take what you can get, perhaps even with gratitude. That's why even some heterosexual men enter into consensual homosexual relationships in prison, data suggests.

Joe said...

Hey, come on. It's not like these are ou[r] best cookies. They are children's cookies.

BLASPHEMER!

lurker2209 said...

The only thing I ever buy oreos for is to make a cookie crust for chocolate pie. It's the kind where you have to stand and stir it on the stove for 30-40 min, so I usually don't feel too guilty over not slaving over a perfect flaky pie crust. However, you can buy the ground up cookie stuff in a jar these days. And then you don't make yourself sick eating all that scraped off cream!

Chip Ahoy said...

As for chocolate, how can you possibly dis Kinder Surprises? Huh? How? They're illegal here, you know. They must be procured surreptitiously and quite outside the law via the internets.

I order them by the case and include them with tips. Plus pass them off to children, poor American children, deprived of the pure joy of toys inside chocolate candy once assembled often larger than the egg itself!

Damn! My server's down, or else I could really show you. Oh well, here's this.

I've mentioned this before and only a few took me up on my offer, but I do like to temper my own chocolate. It's dark and quite good, if I say so myself, and I'll be happy to send you some if you trace my ID and email me your mailing address. No gimmickry here. Address not abused. This will show you beyond a doubt what a real charm I am unto the world.

AllenS said...

One of my ancestors came from England on the Winthrop Fleet in 1638. Reading about what they brought with them was 20,000 biscuits. I don't think they were talking about cookies back then. They also brought a lot of beer.

Joe Giles said...

I can no longer think of Brits and food without thinking of Hedley and Wyche, the British toothpaste (click on video).

vbspurs said...

That's why even some heterosexual men enter into consensual homosexual relationships in prison, data suggests.

Bravissimo! What a segue!

Oh and I do quite like Jaffa cakes, Chip.

Think of them as American Moonpies, but since I've never had a Ho-Ho, Moonpie or Hostess Twinkie, I am not 100% certain that hits the spot.

Cheers,
Victoria

jmk said...

"Brits - who don't even know the word 'cookie'"

Oh, but we do. We've been force-fed every blasted Americanism there is, as Victoria amply demonstrated by sycophantically using the word 'diss' so you could all understand what she was saying. And, by the way, Victoria, thanks for chucking in the routine gratuitous insult about Scotland. If it was 'the English' everyone was 'dissing' and not 'the Brits', I think I could cheerfully join in at this point!

Revenant said...

Of course during WWII the Brits did not mind Hershey's "revolting chocolate" that the GIs had and SHARED with them and the rest of Europe.

I've always suspected that was the real reason the French kicked us out of the country as fast as they could.

Trooper York said...

Isn't Scotland the only place in the world that has worse food than England? There is a Scottish bar in Midtown called St. Andrews that has dozens of great obscure single malts but also serves haggis. I tried it once. As my landsman say, never again.

Trooper York said...

That's lantsman, sorry ricpic.

Trooper York said...

William Wallace: Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you'll live... at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take... OUR HAGGIS!
[Scottish army cheers,then they think for a minute]
Wut..our haggis...I dunno...they
bloody well can have that muck....
lets go home and have a dram...later for this git.
(Braveheart, 1995)

jmk said...

Trooper York - do you know what, I've lived in Scotland all my life and I've never once eaten haggis. So you're more Scottish than I am! Ponder that thought...

Trooper York said...

Ah, but I bet your great at tossing the caber...or at least tossing eh?

vbspurs said...

Isn't Scotland the only place in the world that has worse food than England?

There are two competing schools of thought about that, Trooper.

One, Glaswegian-centric, says it's too reliant on deep-fried everything, such as the famous Deep-Fried Mars Bars.

The other, more Edinburgh-centric, notes how far more cosmopolitan and adventurous Scots cuisine can be.

This is a relic from the days of Mary Queen of Scots bringing over French cuisine traditions from France (when she was briefly married to Francis II).

Their wine cellars, which are glorious, as well as the high standard of butchers and the like there, attest to their sophisticated palates.

My late grandmother, originally from Aberdeenshire, was I think like most Scots -- she cared for simple, healthy foodstuffs and insisted on freshness in seafood. She taught me how to fish, in fact, though I never did learn to fillet the poor dears.

My own take on it is that we British in general have a deep aversion to discussing food, since we're taught to eat whatever is set in front of us, out of politeness and not making a fuss. This is a deep taboo in our culture.

For the longest, we had Delia Smith (you can think of her like your Julia Child) and that's it.

Now Britain is chock-a-block with Marco Pierre Whites, Gordon Ramsays and Clarissa Dickson Wrights (both Scottish, as you know), Nigella Lawsons (my woman crush), Jamie Olivers, etc. etc.

We've turned a corner in the gastronomic world, I think.

For me, though, there's nothing like a bowl of mushy peas or chips and gravy. Fortunately, the best British cooks know that.

Cheers,
Victoria

Palladian said...

What messed up British cuisine was the deprivations of World War II. Everyone got used to powdered beef and synthetic margarine and after the war, companies realized that if they could keep the food standards really low, they'd be able to foist garbage upon the citizens and make a lot of money. It was a similar idea that led to the rise of socialism in the UK.

There have been some voices crying out in the wilderness of contemporary Britian, such as (mentioned last week on some other thread) "Two Fat Ladies" and the Prince of Wales' advocacy of organic foods and meats, but like the rest of the incipient disaster that is today's Britain, it may be too little too late.

America went through a similar situation, and unfortunately continues to be inundated with horrible, revolting processed food.

As to the "cookie/biscuit" issue, according to the OED, the word "cookie" is from the Dutch word koekje, a diminutive of the word for "cake". The word "biscuit" is from Old French via Middle English and (of course) originally from Latin roots: "bis "twice" + coctus, past participle of coquere "to cook", so named because originally biscuits were cooked in a twofold process: first baked and then dried out in a slow oven so that they would keep)". The OED lists the first occurrence of the word "cookie" in written English to be in 1730 and was a reference to the word being from Dutch. The first written occurrence of the word "biscuit" is listed as 1330. So using length of time in English as the measure of validity of a word, "biscuit" wins by 400 years. But "cookie" seems to refer to small sweet cakes specifically so in terms of accuracy and specificity, "cookie (cooky)" wins. In sonic aesthetic terms, the word "cookie" sounds too juvenile for my tastes. The word "biscuit" has a pleasing mix of sounds and sounds less juvenile, but unfortunately you'll never get a cookie in America if you go around asking for biscuits so "cookie" it is.

Good thing I don't like cookies. Except for shortbread. And oatcakes. Or are those biscuits?

Palladian said...

And speaking of haggis and the Two Fat Ladies, Clarissa Dickson-Wright wrote a cute little book about haggis that makes a good gift for the Scot in your life.

vbspurs said...

Palladian, nice etymological reference!

I was going to return to the thread you mentioned, to update this bit, but since you're posting here, let me thank you again.

Jennifer Paterson's Feast Days, the book you recommend to me, arrived safe and sound yesterday!

My favourite so far is page 40, entitled, as ever with her inimitable sense of humour:

"How to Survive Central Heating"

THANKS! :)

Cheers,
Victoria

cardeblu said...

How does Walker's shortbread stack up in its own home country? They're cookies to me and one of my favorite; however, growing up with that same name, I am kind of partial to them anyway...

I used to like Oreo's, but the filling has changed. Anymore, though, I like just plain Nilla Wafers.

ron st.amant said...

These monstrosities, like Hershey's revolting "chocolate" just go to reinforce the stereotype that Americans have no sense of quality

Yes, because when I think of savouring quality food, the first nation that comes to mind is England...

Bob said...

Some of the names of Brit food are hilarious, and cause one to shudder in disgust at the thought of eating them:

Toad-In-The-Hole
Bubble-And-Squeak
Bangers and Mash
The abovementioned Spotted Dick
Chip-Butties

As for that self-appointed "buscuit expert" Stuart Payne, he seriously needs to pull that stick out of his ass.

knoxwhirled said...

I agree with Rev, I think Americans care more about the Brits' good opinion than any other country. I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me that they revile America. They're our parent country, and the only ones left over there with any balls.

###

We've been force-fed every blasted Americanism there is

Hardly. You can't get enough of it, and beg for more. cheers!

George said...

"This is a dark time in cookie history," wrote Gary Nadeau of O'Fallon, Mo., last year on a Web site devoted to Hydrox. "And for those of you who say, 'Get over it, it's only a cookie,' you have not lived until you have tasted a Hydrox."

Hydrox is dead. Long live the Hydrox.

Richard Fagin said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the Brits don't use the word cookie and think their biscuits are superior to Oreos. That is, until you enter a London hotel overrun with tourists from Spain and Germany and workers from Pakistan and Jordan, and THEN, by God, even the stuffiest old imperials are damn glad to see Americans.

I had a similar reception at a drivers license office in Houston, where almost the entire group waiting for service spoke Spanish, and the people working the counter were almost all African American. The latter were genuinely glad to see this honky white boy. You could see it in their faces.

So, the Brits may look down their noses at us from time to time, but I get the impression they'll take us over the rest of the world any day.

dbp said...

"witness the Mars bar, a sweeter version of the American Milky Way."

They are both made by the Mars company and the largest difference is that the Mars bar contains almonds.

I loved the Hydrox cookies until they changed the name (and possibly the recipe) to Droxies. I guess I wasn't alone: Sales crashed and they have been discontinued.

class-factotum said...

Chocolate (ie, dark) Hobnobs are the best!I say this as a cookie snob who bakes her own cookies rather than buying mass-market ones. Chris and I have a small supply we got in England two years ago (where we had some fabulous meals -- the food was great!). We keep them in the freezer and ration them out. They are also available at World Market, so we'll splurge and spend the $5 for one small pack when we need to.

RE: Fish meal and chicken -- here's a post about my experience with eggs from fish-meal fed hens. Hint: They do not make good chocolate chip cookies unless you like your cookies to taste like fish.

http://class-factotum.journalspace.com/?entryid=2105&h=fish%20meal

Michael_H said...

'Twist, lick and dunk'

Will the Wisconsin Reproductive Justice erotic toys seminar topic never end?

TexasPatrick said...

Here in Texas, (and in many parts of the south) we have biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Great stuff if done well. It's nice fluffy biscuits with tasty cream gravy on the top. Of course, done poorly, or from Denny's (I repeat myself) it's crap.

Anyway, some friends were hosting a British boy scout troop. Of course, being nice hosts they checked with the boys the night before: "Would y'all like biscuits and gravy for breakfast?"

The boys were evidently enthused about "biscuits" for breakfast . . . I assume they simply did not process the "gravy" part and in the morning hilarity ensued . . . .

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Brits — who don't even know the word "cookie"

Of course they do.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Of course you can cite Godiva, but that's effectively a gourmet selection that compares to Thornton's, not to "everyday" chocolate.

Thornton's is not gourmet chocolate.

In fact, British chocolate is widely considered an inferior product on the continent. This is because British chocolate often contains up to 5 percent vegetable fat instead of pure cocoa butter. This difference of opinion in the definition of what constitutes proper chocolate was the basis of the thirty year "chocolate war" in the EU.

Palladian said...

Finally a topic upon which I can agree with Cyrus...


"Toad-In-The-Hole
Bubble-And-Squeak
Bangers and Mash
The abovementioned Spotted Dick
Chip-Butties"

The Chip-Butty and Toad-In-The-Hole I can do without, but the rest can be delicious. There's almost nothing better than well-made bubble & squeak.

Palladian said...

Godiva chocolate is not good.

Trooper York said...

I have a client in Switzerland and every year he sends me a big shipment of chocolate for Christmass. It is miles better than most american stuff. Even though I don't like chocolate, the people I give it to enjoy it a lot.

But you can't give that haggis away. Icky poo to the max.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Palladian wrote:

Finally a topic upon which I can agree with Cyrus...

Palladian, I've been commenting here for about a year now. I didn't realize it had been so long since you've been right about something.

John Burgess said...

I think Palladin nailed it on the 'why' of inferior British foods, but I'd add that because post-WWII food rationing went on so long (1953), poor-quality food became the norm. British sausage, for example, can be wonderful, but not when its 65% starch filling material.

There is, of course, no arguing with taste, but to my palate, the average British chocolate is both too sweet and too oily, even the 'premium' brands.

I'll join in the call for more and better ciders in the US. Some of the Weston lines are simply spectacular. And Perry? Where in the US can you find Perry, i.e., pear cider?

British food is getting better all the time. There was a major shift to doing traditional British foods properly during the 1990s. It was long overdue, of course, but thank God it happened! [Same with the Irish, btw.]

Haggis might be an acquired taste, but I certainly love it. I regret that you can't get real haggis in the US, too. The lack of availability has something to do with US regs on importing 'lights', probably brought on by BSE concerns. I know that I can't donate blood anymore because I lived in the UK.

But the Brits sure aren't to blame for introducing the practice of feeding chopped up animal bits to other animals. The US, Canada, and Australia were/are doing it without any BSE. In fact, the cause of BSE is still unknown, with the feed-causation theory only the most popular one to date. It's far from being proved.

knoxwhirled said...

Godiva chocolate is not good.

Yeah, a boss I had once gave me a Godiva chocolate bar for Xmas (lame gift alert: bosses out there, you can do better!) and I was shocked how bad it was. Anyway, I used to work at a gourmet food store and we sold these Belgian chocolates called Neuhaus. They are still the best I've ever tasted.

If there's one thing I hate, it's a food snob; it's one of those topics where for some people it just becomes an escalating contest of who's pickier, knows more, and hates more; but at times I am guilty! Except I can't pretend to know much.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Where in the US can you find Perry, i.e., pear cider?

I don't know how widely available it is, but Woodchuck Pear Draft Cider is made in the US and can be found in CA at least.

vbspurs said...

I agree with Rev, I think Americans care more about the Brits' good opinion than any other country. I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me that they revile America.

It's not that, really.

Psychoanalysing a whole people or culture is just too silly, but let me just say this.

British people do not revile the USA or Americans. They have a need to willfully misunderstand it. To ridiculise it, to judge it.

It's self-tortured, and something to do with a father's frustration at having been bested by their child.

(As they read this, many of my ex-countrymen are probably shaking their fists at the screen, saying nono, but you know it's true)

Just remember that most Brits are absolutely fascinated by Americans. They are not by Aussies, Canadians, or any other ex-colonials.

Also remember that emigration out of Britain is at an all-time high again. And the place A LOT OF Brits would adore to go, is America. More than once I have encountered an ex-countryman here, and he's said, "you left just in time. England is unrecognisable."

Yes...the yummy Walker shortbread biscuits, Cardeblu, I hope will survive.

Cheers,
Victoria

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

How does Walker's shortbread stack up in its own home country?

I think Dean's traditional Scottish shortbread is significantly better than Walker's.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Brits are OBSESSED with America. It's all they ever talk about, usually to get a snipe in like all people with inferiority/superiority complexes.

This isn't even remotely close to accurate.

Ralph said...

My dad and I used to love Nabisco (National Biscuit(!) Co) Brown Edge Wafers, but they first became pricey, then disappeared.
I could eat a package of fudge-packed chocolate cookies in a few hours, but I'd be pretty ill the next day, with a nasty photo to send Titus.

Kirby Olson said...

You get used to the food that you grew up with, and when you're an adult, nothing tastes as good as did the food that you ate as a child.

Oreos to Americans have some of the memory expanding capacity of Proust's Madeleines.

To Brits, the Oreo is meaningless.

Even the complex pattern on the front is probably meaningless to them and to the Chinese. It will take a few generations to get them hooked. You have to get them in their childhoods.

Beth said...

What is haggis, anyway -- I mean, what does someone who likes haggis expect from a good haggis? Is this a common menu item, or does one find the best haggis in little off-the-road sites?

I'm imagining it's a little like boudin. White boudin is pork and rice and seasonings and easy to find -- but really good white booudin is legendary, and you have to find just the right little family market or gas station in Central Louisiana. I love Google Maps: www.boudinlink.com. You know it's good when it's wrapped in wax paper or foil.

Red boudin is a threatened species -- it's basically white boudin mixed with blood from the freshly slaughtered hog, and, these days, a state inspector has to be present for the slaughtering, at least for officially approved red boudin. People still make it in their homes, and there's an underground sales network of sorts.

Joan said...

Oreos aren't worth the calories, but I used to love Hydrox when I was little. Dunked them in milk, yum. But the chocolate sandwich cookie seems to be a particularly American food item, and I doubt they'll ever become a cultural mainstay in other countries the way they have here.

Belgian chocolate is awesome. I recommend the Pound Plus from Trader Joe's; ridiculously delicious chocolate for less than three bucks for half a kilo.

As for good ol' Hershey's, it has steadily degraded in quality through the years. I'm sure that the chocolate shared by WWII GIs was of significantly better quality than what you can get now. It was made with real ingredients back then, not corn syrups and hydrogenated oils as now.

Godiva can be OK when it's not stale. The problem is, most of the time it's stale.

matthew said...

I wish companies would make and sell reduced sugar things in America. And I'm not talking about anything that has splenda or a different sweetener. I just want things that are less sweet (and also happen to be better for you).

At the local co-op I've now found 'no sugar added' ketchup. That made me happy.

chuckR said...

Victoria sez

Yes...the yummy Walker shortbread
biscuits, Cardeblu, I hope will
survive.

Only if its haram.

Palladian said...

"Only if its haram."

Halal. Haraam things are forbidden.

Palladian said...

For sweet milk chocolates, especially truffles, I like Teuscher.

For the bitterest, most intense, dark soul of chocolate, try Michel Cluizel's 99% "Noir Infini".

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"Red boudin is a threatened species -- it's basically white boudin mixed with blood from the freshly slaughtered hog"

Yum...blood sausage (otherwise known as black puddings**) and eggs for breakfast!!!. One of the best things I had when I went for an extended "vacation" in Ireland ,another bastion of not so great cooking. The small town restaurant/fast food menu consisted of as many combinations of sausages, chips (french fries to us) and beans as was arithmetically possible.

Actually, I exaggerate a bit. There were places outside of the cities where the food was fresh and wonderful.

** I have the recipe...start with 4 pints of blood.

chuckR said...

Haraam things are forbidden......

Isn't that what make them so irresistible?

Paddy O. said...

There were places outside of the cities where the food was fresh and wonderful.

This is precisely what I was saying to myself as I read the first half of your comment. The food is very good outside the larger cities. I suspect it has something to do with the amount of French trained chefs they have working at these country restaurants. Not all of the restaurants I was at, but a good many, had such--supporting a nice lifestyle in an out of the way place.

Cedarford said...

And Perry? Where in the US can you find Perry, i.e., pear cider?
British food is getting better all the time. There was a major shift to doing traditional British foods properly during the 1990s. It was long overdue, of course, but thank God it happened! [Same with the Irish, btw.]


Agree British food is getting better. Better supply of fresh stuff, constant reminders by visitors from other countries what crap the British public put up with eating.

They are changing and improving faster than the US, which still eats mountains of poor cheap basic ingredients processed into a "premium" manufactured foodstuff like Breyers Ice Cream, P&G Keeblers, McDonald's burgers, Hormel chili (for the mega-corps making their "FAMOUS BRAND NAME" garbage, profit margins beget by the cheapest low-nutition ingredients having "value" added to them - rule thinking).

In the US, it became all about marketing, brand loyalty, and advertising rather than make a better beer or chocolate bar or frozen pizza than your competitor.

Pear cider is incredible. I wish it was more common here, even if offered as a high-end restaurant treat. The stuff I had came from France, though, so it had to be of good quality.

I wish America would listen a bit on what is universally thought of as American crap - mass produced beer with the only alternative now-taxed to ridiculous levels 7.99 a sicpack and up, botique beers. Cruddy chocolate mocked the world over. Crappy chain restaurants serving oversized fried platters of poorly seasoned dreck. The American "dumbed down so blacks will pass" public school system. Train service. Asinine "over-security" in public places like airports.

memomachine said...

Hmmmmm.

Oreos? In China? With *milk*??

Was anyone aware that the Chinese traditionally don't drink milk? Nor do they make cheese.

memomachine said...

Hmmmmm.

@ cedarford

All of your examples are themselves examples of the least common denominator. Of course they're going to suck. McDonald's always sucks. Seriously. It's like complaining about how terrible the extremely cheap food was. Of course it is.

But that doesn't account for the vast number of excellent restaurants and high quality food available all across the country.

Patm said...

Oreos get their name from the high concentration of iron and bauxite ores in the chocolate cookie and cream filling portions, respectively, as well as the traces of cobalt ore that can be found in both parts.

Courtesy of Dave's Web of Lies

titusistyetyetonight said...

I love fish frys from Wisconsin but have to say I have been disappointed from my "fish and chips" experiences in London.

What makes a good Fish and Chips?

Revenant said...

Was anyone aware that the Chinese traditionally don't drink milk?

Well Caucasians don't traditionally eat Szechuan cuisine, but that's not stopping me from doing it. :)

titusistyetyetonight said...

Also, I don't generally like cookies, unless my mom makes them.

I think Oreos are gross.

I do kind of like those marshmallow "pin wheels" though. I haven't had one in years but they are kind of yummy.

Revenant said...

All of your examples are themselves examples of the least common denominator. Of course they're going to suck.

Yeah, seriously. Who the hell considers McDonald's a "premium" brand? It is the gold standard of NON-premium, pretty much. With the possible exception of Breyer's, all those brands are stuff you wouldn't be surprised to find in a welfare recipient's kitchen. Premium it ain't.

Ralph said...

the vast number of excellent restaurants and high quality food
A fairly recent development outside of the city centers, and largely thanks to liquor-by-the-drink and Julia Child.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Cedarford wrote:

The American "dumbed down so blacks will pass" public school system.

Cretin.

former law student said...

Was anyone aware that the Chinese traditionally don't drink milk?

Well Caucasians don't traditionally eat Szechuan cuisine, but that's not stopping me from doing it. :)

Tradition isn't what's stopping the Chinese from drinking milk. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, flatulence (passing gas), and, less commonly, abdominal bloating, abdominal distention, and nausea are. (From WebMD, "symptoms of lactose intolerance")

Meade said...

Cute short film with cookies in it:

http://www.responsibilityproject.com/films/mandy-and-lester/

Mitch H. said...

Woodchuck cider's been available pretty much everywhere I've been to on the east coast. Of course, I'd call their pear cider the least palatable of their ciders - the raspberry stuff's brilliant, but the old-fashioned amber is best, especially when it's on tap, like this one basement place in a nearby college town.

And "biscuits" are something you feed to dogs and Robert Culp.