Friday 23 September 2011

British Stuffs Review: The British Alternatives Edition

As we have discussed a few times before, one of the first things any expat is faced with when they move to England (or anywhere else for that matter) is finding food products they are used to in the native country.  Instead of whining about it and searching high and low for the familiar products, I try to spend my energy finding easily available alternatives and have had varying degrees of success...

Miracle Whip
I don't know about you, but in my world, mayonnaise doesn't hold a candle to Miracle Whip, but in the British world, Miracle Whip doesn't exist.  So what's a tuna salad eater to do?   Try Salad Cream. Don't be alarmed by the colour -  it won't be lovely and white like Miracle Whip, nor is it quite a thick, but the taste is very similar.

Does it measure up?  In tuna salad, pasta salad, regular salad - yes.  On sandwiches - not so much.

{Insert the name of your favourite Mexican restaurant here}
I have blogged before about the expat's mission to find quality Mexican food in the UK, and then about how curry can actually cure your cravings for Mexican, but if you are still feeling deprived of your favourite Mexican restaurant, may I suggest Chiquito.  Yes, its a chain and yes it used to be really bland, but they have recently revamped their menu and either A) I have lived here too long and my taste buds aren't as refined as they once were or B) its actually good!

Does it measure up?  If you aren't "fresh off the boat" with the taste of Mexican spices still lingering on your tongue, then yes, it's a totally acceptable alternative and completely delicious!  May I recommend the sharing nachos?  (sharing optional and not recommended)

The "other" stuff
Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
Once upon a time (like back in 2009) you used to be able to buy blue box Kraft Mac and Cheese in Asda.  I don't know what happened, but at least in my area, it is no longer available.  However, you can sometimes find an alternative creatively named Cheesy Pasta. When I first spotted it, I figured it looks florescent orange, its also made by Kraft, it must be the same product, but to my tastebuds, it's not exactly.

Does it measure up?  Maybe it's just the colour of the box or maybe the recipe actually is different, but for me, its just not the same.  I still buy the real thing at the American food store near me.

Cool Whip
I am hoping someone will tell me that I am not the only person who can happily eat the majority of a tub of Cool Whip straight from the tub with a spoon (or finger in times of desperation)... After all, who said its only a topping?  It's a dessert on its own! ... and you can't buy it here.  Even in the various American food stores - its simply not available, which I am sure you will agree is a damn shame.   In my quest to find something else to top brownies and fill my lonely dessert spoon (aka the biggest spoon in the drawer), I was encouraged to try Dream Topping.  On the packet, it looks like it may be a suitable alternative, but to be honest, I never even got around to using it on any food because I couldn't get it to thicken and become fluffy like my old friend Cool Whip.  Maybe you're a better whipper than me and would  have better luck.

Does it measure up?  Hell no.  Stick with the spray whipped cream here.

Read more of my British Stuff Reviews here.


  1. I also long for the frozen cans of juice concentrate...and canned enchilada sauce- two things that aren't really possible to bring back with me! (well I guess I could fit a can of La Victoria, but the weight allowances are so mean these days!)

  2. Any recommendations for dill pickles (e.g. Gedney, Claussen, or even Vlasic). I've tried two different brands and have failed twice and I'm becoming depressed over this!

  3. I love this!! I tried to make mousse recently and was very sad that there was not one tub of Cool Whip to be had. (or "Cool hhhwwhhipp" as Stewie Griffin calles it).

    I found one neat shop a few miles from me that stocks American foodstuffs including Bisquick, Old Bay, JIF Peanut Butter, pancake syrup, and Lucky Charms. I have to stop myself sometimes from going crazy in there, but I can't help myself. Sometimes a girl just needs some fluffy pancakes!

    "American AngloFUN"

  4. @Camie - I have a garden centre near me that sells Vlasic pickles, so I buy them at the crazy inflated price there b/c I have not been able to find any good alternative here, unfortunately. These guys sometimes sell Vlasic pickles, but dont seem to have any instock at the moment.

    @Buffie - I also found enchilada sauce at a different garden centre! It may be worth a try to look at some of the larger ones near you to see if they have an "international food" section.

  5. There is a massive garden center in Bagshot called Long Acres- they do have a pretty big American/International food area, but sadly no enchilada sauce!

  6. Buffie - I actually live just down the road from Long Acres, but Secretts is where I have found enchilada sauce (can't always count on it though)

  7. I didn't know that was what Salad Cream was - I still learn something new at least once a day :)