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Tastes like …

TongueA few weeks ago, JJ asked me “What foods I’d got to like here that you can’t get back in England”, and I had a really hard time trying to think of specific things that I’d started to eat here that I couldn’t get back home.

Generally, I’m a ‘stick with what I know’ kinda guy when it comes to food and it’s not uncommon for me to go to the same place to eat time after time and order the same thing again and again. Predictable – maybe, but satisfying – definitely.

But if there are two ‘types’ of food places here that I have picked up a liking for, it would be Mexican and Barbecue.

Now the former you might nod your head to, but the latter? Branding a whole bunch of restaurants specifically as ‘barbecue’. It’s not very British. But it’s what they have here in the south – to the point where there are some odd places that only open at specific times of the week.

Think that a restaurant might open from 11am in the morning to 11pm at night Monday to Saturday with shorter hours on the Sunday? Not so. I have discovered here that there are plenty of ‘Barbecue’ style restaurants which do odd things like – only open Fridays and Saturdays. And even then only between 4pm and 8pm. So you’ve got to very specifically remember that you want a pulled pork sandwich then you’ve got to be hungry for it on those two days of the week and between those certain times only.

Fortunately, I love barbecue – and there are loads of places to go to at all different times. Mexican for me has become a big hit too – and when you start to realise that it’s actually cheaper to eat out for two at a mexican than it is to stay in with your own ingredients, time and money doing it – then it seems rude not to go out at least once a week for some refried beans and tacos. And so that’s what we do.

You still can’t get a decent curry though. And the Americans have never ever heard of naan bread. I know, I know – I should probably have a crack at making my own.

But in the future, when I’m perhaps back in England tucking into a steak & kidney pie instead and I think of Charleston, the taste of barbecue and mexican will salivate my tongue, and I love it. Mmmm.

14 responses to “Tastes like …”

  1. Paul says:

    Next time you are back home Geoff I will take you and Leigh out for a proper balti in Birmingham!

  2. leigh says:

    Mmm… and don’t forget your new found love of Cheerwine and SunDrop!

  3. Bob H says:

    Geoff,

    There are plenty of Mexican restaurants in London and other cities have the odd one. The food is no doubt not authentic, but tasty enough even if it is expensive here. I had Mexican in Canterbury at the weekend for lunch with my girlfriend and mum.

    As for Barbecue, there is a “Mongolian Barbecue” in Covent Garden, not exactly what you asked for, but perhaps close enough?

    Bob

  4. Rudi says:

    Also, Geoff: naan is fairly typical in more world-exposed U.S. cities. You’ll find it quite easily in New York City, DC, San Francisco, LA, San Diego, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Denver, even Salt Lake City. Basically, you’re more likely to find authentic Indian cuisine in the “gateway” cities than you are in a city like Charleston. And in some of the bigger cities with large Indian populations (e.g. Detroit, NYC), you can even get regional in terms of styles of cooking.

    But in a smaller city, you mention “naan” or “curry” and there’s a blank stare.

    And “barbeque” has so many different iterations in the States. There’s dry rub and wet rub. There’s the different sauces (e.g. thick with molasses or more watery with vinegar). There’s the different kinds of meat used for different styles. Lemme tell ‘ya: you’ll never get bored with BBQ styles, though you’ll definitely prefer some over others.

    Same goes with “Mexican” food. There are so many different kinds: the more watered-down chains (e.g. Chili’s or Chevy’s), to the more Central American/Yucatan styles, to the central Mexican mols, to the Baja styles. There’s also Tex-Mex, which is its own fusion of cowboy influence over Mexican base. And California – that’s its own strange amalgamation. Again, lots of territory to explore.

    And with Mexican, one thing holds true: there’s no truly good Mexican food north of the Mason-Dixon line in the east, and east coast Mexican doesn’t really compare to stuff found west of the Mississippi. It’s like two completely different cuisines.

  5. ClaphamCommuter says:

    I’ll be bringing a few dozen Naan breads in my suitcase for the wedding then, start stockpiling now!

  6. jaz says:

    When eating at barbeque places, beware of an item called “hash.”

    They will tell you it is food, but it is actually made of, well, various parts of cows and pigs that are better left unmentioned. They chop it up all so fine and make it taste so good, but even so…

  7. Annette says:

    Dude, you are so wrong about Americans not knowing what Naan bread is.
    Just because people in SC might not have a clue, doesn’t mean the rest of the usa doesn’t.
    Naan bread is as common in the states as mac and cheese.

  8. David - Lightwater - In Oregon says:

    One thing I will say is that American food is generally a lot sweeter than English food, and that it’s a shock to my English taste buds! Although I love the pancake places in this (USA) country. Yumm IHOP 🙂

  9. leigh says:

    I agree with Annette. We have naan in America. Geoff just misses the fact you can’t buy it in the grocery store here very readily. But we could get it from an Indian market, there just aren’t many of those in Charleston, though there are at least 2.

    As for Mexican food, I’ve heard some dismal tales about Mexican food in England. The best Mexican food comes from the inexpensive dives and if you want to have the ultimate “OMG, this is the best burrito EVER!”, then go to California and visit one of the taquerias. The last time I was in San Francisco, I bought 3 bean burritoes from Taqueria Cancun, packed them in a cooler and brought them back to SF with me, they are that good.

  10. leslie says:

    We have naan in Austin too, as well as some of the best barbecue and Mexican restaurants anywhere.

    Barbecue tends to be best in the small towns. in the town where I work one place has homemade sausage with cayenne pepper. Mmmmm, yummy.

    The Salt Lick here is famous. It’s 20 miles out of town on a windy country road in a dry county (but you can bring your own drinks if you remember to). Like most bigger barbecue restaurants, they have ‘family style’, which is all you can eat brought to the table. It’s recommended to fast the day before.

  11. Jono says:

    #8 David,

    What I will never, never be able to understand it the way breakfast in the US is filled with sugar. Even the savoury bits. French toast with added sugar. Bacon with Maple Syrup. Honey glazed sausages. Need I go on?

  12. David - Lightwater - In Oregon says:

    #11 Jono : Try bread flavour with honey Jono! That seem to be popular here. I just like good old british brown bread!

    #9 Leigh : I will agree that SF has probably some of the best mexican food I have ever had! Berkeley also does as well. Well let me generalize, the bay area in general!

  13. stroppycow says:

    You can get pulled pork in London these days you know 🙂 http://www.bodeansbbq.com/

  14. sam says:

    Im already plotting ways to get minute maid sent over to me next year. I truly have become addicted to that stuff.

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