Corned beef is called salt beef over there.
January 10, 2019 4:34 PM   Subscribe

How to eat like an American in London.

Sort of? Giving that key lime pie and the lobster roll the side eye.
posted by oneirodynia (127 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
ryanreynoldsbutwhy.gif
posted by tobascodagama at 4:55 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


Some of those pictures look like they’ve only ever heard of the item in question by vague description.
posted by greermahoney at 5:00 PM on January 10 [14 favorites]


Like, I don’t know exactly what is wrong with that pecan pie, but something is.
posted by greermahoney at 5:01 PM on January 10 [42 favorites]


I want that pecan pie to run me over with its car
posted by prize bull octorok at 5:04 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


Dammit, now I have to go put on pants (er...trousers), because this post just made me crave pecan pie, and there’s none in the house.

In 20 minutes, this problem will be resolved, but sadly, pants are required by my local pie-vending establishment.
posted by darkstar at 5:11 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


yeah, some of those dishes look very much like the medieval drawings/taxidermies of exotic animals that the artist had never seen.

Naturally, that means we're inflicting the same horror on dishes as well.
posted by drewbage1847 at 5:19 PM on January 10 [12 favorites]


So what do Americans call corned beef? AKA "bully beef", it's like Spam except it's made from beef. Think canned beef hash without the potato and onion. Do you even have such a thing?
posted by GeckoDundee at 5:20 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


Confusingly, that's also corned beef here.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:28 PM on January 10 [13 favorites]


Canned corned beef exists in the USA, and is similar to bully beef in the UK. The canned meat is different in texture and taste from the fresh corned beef usually used in regional sandwhiches, Fresh corned beef is brisket, prepared and roasted until almost falling apart, and sliced, usually thinly. Canned corned beef is more of a hash minus potato and onion.
posted by blob at 5:31 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]


Or chipped beef maybe? That might be a different thing though.
posted by Carillon at 5:32 PM on January 10


Chipped beef is salt beef.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:42 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Ctrl-F: Burrito

NO RESULTS IN PAGE

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻
posted by tclark at 5:42 PM on January 10 [27 favorites]


Naturally, that means we're inflicting the same horror on dishes as well.

Yeah, that's exactly what I thought after reading the article. Even so I'm not sure how you'd get from any googlable Key Lime Pie recipe on the internet to "cheesecake-like pie with a crumb crust and lime flavoured topping". Cheesecake-like?
posted by oneirodynia at 5:44 PM on January 10 [8 favorites]


Fresh corned beef is brisket, prepared and roasted until almost falling apart, and sliced, usually thinly.

I've never made corned beef by roasting, the brined brisket is always simmered on the stove.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:48 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


So what do Americans call corned beef? AKA "bully beef", it's like Spam except it's made from beef. Think canned beef hash without the potato and onion. Do you even have such a thing?

Hello, I'm vintage but still good.
posted by dinty_moore at 5:51 PM on January 10 [42 favorites]


I'll believe that's real gumbo when someone from New Orleans says so. You can barely even get real gumbo in NOLA, in a restaurant anyway. Gumbo is something people make at home.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:51 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


Chipped beef is very unlike either variety of corned beef.
posted by sepviva at 5:52 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


Also, Bubba Gump Shrimp's jambalaya is thoroughly mediocre on Decatur street.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:53 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


And that is not a lobster roll. It just isn't.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:54 PM on January 10 [7 favorites]


I am backing away from that pecan pie as quickly as possible, and that is unusual, because I like pecan pie (although I usually only have it at Thanksgiving). It should not appear quite so...solid?
posted by thomas j wise at 5:55 PM on January 10 [7 favorites]


And that is not a lobster roll. It just isn't.

Considering you can barely even get a lobster roll outside of New England it's hardly a surprise.
posted by Dr. Twist at 6:10 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


I don't know what is so goddamn difficult.

Big chunks of lobster. Little bit of mayo, or lots of hot melted butter (either style is acceptable). Fill up a hotdog roll (a toasted one, if using butter) until it won't hold any more.

That's literally it.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:17 PM on January 10 [11 favorites]


Considering you can barely even get a lobster roll outside of New England it's hardly a surprise.

Hey! Nova Scotia and PEI aren’t in New England!

But, come on. It’s not exactly complicated. Lobster salad in a hotdog bun. I don’t know what the hell that picture is of, but whatever it is, it’s been *way* overthought.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:32 PM on January 10 [8 favorites]


(and overcooked)
posted by Sys Rq at 6:32 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Ctrl-F: Burrito

NO RESULTS IN PAGE


Yeah, it's more like how to eat like some kinda East Coast American. Eight out of 19 foods on that list are from New York alone!

AMERICA IS MORE THAN JUST THAT ONE COVER IN THE NEW YORKER!!
posted by FJT at 6:34 PM on January 10 [23 favorites]


Yeah, the more I look at that page, these are all clearly over-fancied versions of the thing. Being a Florida kid, that Key Lime Pie and the Cubano make me mad
posted by drewbage1847 at 6:42 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


owned and operated by New York's own The Brooklyn Pizza Company, so you know you're getting the real deal
Should someone tell them?
posted by neroli at 6:43 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


...tf is the bread on that "reuben"???
posted by praemunire at 6:59 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]


owned and operated by New York's own The Brooklyn Pizza Company, so you know you're getting the real deal
Should someone tell them?


I have no idea where Londonist got this tidbit, it doesn't even say "New York's own" on the Mulberry Street site. I did learn this, however:

Only in New York is it common for pedestrians to duck into long, narrow, dingy storefronts and emerge with a slice of pizza, then stride down the street eating in rhythm with the city, the wide slice folded up so its hot gooey toppings go into the mouth and not over the clothes.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:00 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Canadian here, nothing in this thread makes any sense whatsoever.
posted by mhoye at 7:00 PM on January 10 [14 favorites]


Canadian here, nothing in this thread makes any sense whatsoever.

Metafilter:
posted by gauche at 7:03 PM on January 10 [11 favorites]


Yeah, praemunire. That reuben should have about 25% less filling and about 200% more rye. A reuben should be a fairly hearty, beefy sandwich but that one is out of hand.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:05 PM on January 10


Even so I'm not sure how you'd get from any googlable Key Lime Pie recipe on the internet to "cheesecake-like pie with a crumb crust and lime flavoured topping". Cheesecake-like?

As someone who's racking their brain trying to remember if they've ever eaten key lime pie, it looks like cheesecake to me.
posted by hoyland at 7:07 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


A real key lime pie isn't a cheesecake. It's made with sweetened condensed milk.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:13 PM on January 10 [10 favorites]


Also, key limes. Not ordinary limes. Key limes are hard enough to get up here in New England, I would be surprised if they were available in the UK.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:17 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


Yes, the texture is more like thick custard or (American) pudding. It should be creamy but not dense like cheesecake, if that makes sense.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:18 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


...it is also one of the easiest pies to make IMO and I make it a lot.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:20 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


Honestly, you might be better off taking the Eurostar to Paris where Brooklyn is practically an adjective these days. London does have some pretty top notch burgers though.
posted by timelord at 7:21 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


The chief problem in making a lobster roll is that when you're halfway done, you have a freshly boiled lobster in front of you. It's hard to understand why one wouldn't just melt some butter and tuck in.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:26 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


The pecan pie looks much more like a tart. It seems like it'd be tasty enough, but the texture, density, ratio of nuts to filling--all off. Which is weird, because the first time I ever had a treacle tart, my immediate response was "oh, it's like a pecan-less pecan pie."

And they seem weirdly uninterested in the basic reasons why the dishes are called what they are when the have counterintuitive names. I was just waiting for at least a mention of the existence of Buffalo, NY, which at least would give useful cues that it's not, e.g., southwestern or Cajun food, despite the heat.

And the key lime thing--it's not so much where the limes are grown; it's the difference between persian and key limes. Can you use Persian limes? Sure. I'd probably not notice in a hurry. But it's not just being geographically precious; it's about the type of the ingredient used.

wauuugh. cathartic anger over pointless trivia.
posted by pykrete jungle at 7:30 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]


Anticipation: I feel like, as with pho and baguettes, the basic pleasure of a lobster roll is in buying one from someone who makes them really well, not to make it oneself.
posted by pykrete jungle at 7:32 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]


Yeah, it's more like how to eat like some kinda East Coast American. Eight out of 19 foods on that list are from New York alone!

It's because you don't even want to know what they do to other foods--in a fit of homesickness, I once wandered into a "Mexican" restaurant that promised "Tex-Mex" specialties. As a Californian, I knew it wouldn't be completely satisfying, but the grim reality that was waiting there... and then I tried it again a month later, thinking that maybe they just hadn't understood the concept of enchiladas, but a burrito might be nice. It wasn't nice.
posted by betweenthebars at 7:33 PM on January 10 [21 favorites]


Bubba Gump's on Decatur Street closed, Anticipation!
posted by smelendez at 7:37 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


That's cool, it was a tourist trap anyway. What replaced it? Cigar factory's still there, I assume?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:44 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


And yeah, come to think of it I've never even heard of a home-made lobster roll. Still, you can just go ahead and give me the whole lobster, it won't hurt my feelings.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:46 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


I once wandered into a "Mexican" restaurant that promised "Tex-Mex" specialties. As a Californian, I knew it wouldn't be completely satisfying, but the grim reality that was waiting there...

counterpoint: I once nearly had my face burnt off because I, a smug Californian, asked the taco maker at Benito's Hat (Covent Garden) for their hottest salsa. He reached below the counter for the secret stash and... it was brutal. To be honest the tacos were on flour tortillas but that's a staple of border-style Mexican food so I can't hate.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:54 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]


Also, key limes. Not ordinary limes. Key limes are hard enough to get up here in New England, I would be surprised if they were available in the UK.

Now I am curious and I am hoping one of the UK Mefites can chime in with some actual knowledge on which kinds of limes are available there. I would have assumed that key limes were actually fairly common there because they are used in Caribbean cooking, but that is just speculation.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:03 PM on January 10


has anyone found the pancake
posted by clavdivs at 8:12 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


Had a decent burrito in Oslo. Not amazing. But decent. It can be done. Just eat the thing you want to make before you make it. Yours doesn't taste much like that? Try again! This one's pretty close? Attaboy! Repeat over and over until you get it.
posted by downtohisturtles at 8:14 PM on January 10


On the advice of our English member, a varied transatlantic group of us once ended up at a "Mexican" restaurant in Geneva. I was willing to give it a shot. Even though the salsa was sweet. Even though the fajitas were advertised on the menu as something like "bifteck avec ratatouille."

I'm not going to say it was inedible--it was edible. It was just so, so bland. I don't mean that it lacked heat--I can understand that. But I know for a fact that the Swiss are aware of things such as at least cilantro. Or garlic. Or *salt.*
posted by pykrete jungle at 8:14 PM on January 10 [3 favorites]


What the heck is that eggs benedict? Why would you list something balled a burgerdict with nacho cheese as anything related to a eggs benedict craving?
posted by tavella at 8:16 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


The predominance of things New York reminds me of a subculinary experience from the mid-90s, when I was in London doing dissertation research. At one point, I picked up something billed as a "California-style flapjack," which was a heavy chocolate-covered block of...stuff. Now, putting to one side the obvious language problem--Americans having the habit of expecting a flapjack to be a pancake, and not basically a granola bar--I am from California. It seemed to me that I should recognize this food. And yet I did not. Nor did I quite see how one got any sort of transatlantic stereotype of "California" out of "heavy chocolate-covered block of...stuff." (Which I did eat, to my considerable regret; it was about as heavy in the stomach as it was in the package.)

Now I'm wondering what evils we perpetrate on English food.
posted by thomas j wise at 8:44 PM on January 10 [7 favorites]


You mean "gimme eggs benedict and hold the burger" isn't a genuine American phrase?

I also thought that, while Original Ray's Brooklyn Pizza Company was in Tuscon and Famous Ray's Brooklyn Pizza Company was in Vegas, Original Famous Ray's Brooklyn Pizza Company was indeed in New York.

Thanks for the clarification on the corned beef.
posted by GeckoDundee at 8:48 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


Just don’t ever let a Brit step into a stateside Long John Silver’s and order a fish-n-chips. I think they would weep. I mean, I never had it so good as when I bought it from a nondescript corner shop in Reading (the one in England). No special place, really, but the food was perfect.
posted by darkstar at 8:48 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


Like, I don’t know exactly what is wrong with that pecan pie, but something is.

Considering it looks like someone soaked a fruitcake in coffee for a week and then froze it, I'd say there's a lot wrong with that pecan pie.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:15 PM on January 10 [8 favorites]


I can't speak for everything here, but as a Londoner, I've definitely encountered (and eaten) versions of eggs benedict, pecan pie, waldorf salad and baked cheesecake that looked a good deal more like the original/American versions. Hell, I've made versions of key lime pie and waldorf salad (full of delicious little waldorfs) that looked more authentic. You can also get perfectly good versions of Ashkenazi standards like salt/corned beef and baked cheesecake in the Jewish bakeries and restaurants of North London - the Brass Rail at Selfridges also does a very good salt beef sandwich.

Key limes seem to be unique to Florida, so the key lime pie I made used ordinary limes and sweetened condensed milk. It was delicious (and didn't have any meringue on it). The only limes I have seen here are the regular smooth little ones, which come from Brazil, I think. There is also a thing called kaffir lime, but I've never seen the fruits, only the leaves which are used in Thai cooking.
posted by Fuchsoid at 9:37 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


i have a thesis that the anglo canadian butter tart, the quebecois tarte scure, the american peacan pie, and the english treacle tart are roughly the same food stuff.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:46 PM on January 10 [7 favorites]


Y’all are making me feel a lot better about my initial judginess. I didn’t even bring up the eggs Benedict, because I don’t eat eggs Benedict. But I have seen other people eat eggs Benedict, and I don’t ever remember it looking like that.

That said, when I was in Italy and had my first bite of a caprese salad, I immediately thought “Oh!!! This is what we’re always trying for? There’s no comparison!”
posted by greermahoney at 9:48 PM on January 10 [4 favorites]


Now I am curious and I am hoping one of the UK Mefites can chime in with some actual knowledge on which kinds of limes are available there.

In the U.S the vast majority of limes grown and widely available are Persian limes, but Mexican/key limes can be found here and there (especially where people are cooking Mexican, South American, or Asian food). Because the original Mexican/key lime groves in Florida were destroyed in 1926 and then re-planted with Persian limes, nearly all key/Mexi limes are imported from South America, even to Florida. There's no official designation for key limes so most of the bottled "key lime" juice is Persian lime, and therefore probably most key lime pies eaten by Americans who are not at one of the old-school Florida bakeries (or baking their own from fresh Mexican limes) are eating pies made from Persian limes. Most people would not be able to tell the difference.

I have in my backyard a Mexican/key lime and a Thai lime, my next door neighbors have a Persian lime. You can easily find Persian and slightly less easily Mexican limes in stores in California, though as far as I know there is no commercial Mexican lime crop in California.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:49 PM on January 10 [7 favorites]


Why does the hollandaise sauce look like thousand island dressing?
posted by greermahoney at 9:51 PM on January 10 [6 favorites]


FYI, I just resurfaced from an hour long journey down the rabbit hole on this one.

Great FPP!
posted by mikelieman at 9:59 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


- we have Persian limes, and it's not easy at all to get key limes

- a lot of places in this bad article are unarguably very bad. I personally have had the texas toast at slim chickens and it's a horror. There are one billion places that will do a perfectly normal eggs benedict, so why they've chosen one that looks freshly crapped out by some eldritch horror I have no idea. More than a couple will do a perfectly normal lobster roll.

- the article feels almost like it could be extremely fine shade a la that one infamous olive garden review, but I think it's just a lazy piece on a not-great site

- with all of the above conceded - the comments in this thread feel as US-centric and frankly jerkish as I've seen in a while.

Yours,
Needlessly Defensive
posted by ominous_paws at 11:17 PM on January 10 [7 favorites]


And that is not a lobster roll. It just isn't

Restaurants can't help themselves. They think "That can't be all there is! Let's add chopped celery, parsley and other crap to this. Let's fuck with the bread". I think this is the same reason you see "philly cheesesteaks" that are 50% bell pepper and come with a dipping sauce.

I also take issue that the lobster roll is considered a New England thing. It's also a Maritimes thing.

i have a thesis that the anglo canadian butter tart, the quebecois tarte scure, the american peacan pie, and the english treacle tart are roughly the same food stuff.

"Crack pie" from Milk Bar didn't blow me away. It's good, but it's basically just a butter tart.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:21 PM on January 10 [1 favorite]


a "Mexican" restaurant in Geneva. I was willing to give it a shot. Even though the salsa was sweet

I've bought salsa in Germany, several times, cause I'm not too bright. It's always so sweet, like sweeter than ketchup, and also blended and thickened to the exact consistency of ketchup. Imagine dipping a chip into that and you can experience the same gag reflex as me.
posted by starfishprime at 12:44 AM on January 11


I'd like to formally climb down off of my huff. Still extremely sore from a Canadian colleague lecturing us on how superior Chipotle was to one of our (genuinely decent!) local burrito shops. YOU DON'T EVEN GO HERE AND BY HERE I MEAN AMERICA
posted by ominous_paws at 1:02 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]


I've bought salsa in Germany, several times, cause I'm not too bright. It's always so sweet, like sweeter than ketchup

Only once. It was so bad that I never considered trying again.
posted by frimble at 1:14 AM on January 11


Oh, man, those flapjacks. I, too, could not figure out what the antecedent was actually supposed to be.
posted by praemunire at 1:24 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Eh, I’ve seen worse versions of all of those. I may be more forgiving than most, at least when it comes to these dishes. I’m always very curious to know how people in other countries interpret food that is very familiar to me. I get to feel like an expert by default, just because I’ve probably been eating it roughly 30 years longer than the restaurant owners.

That said, I once had a “hamburger” in Barcelona that turned out to be made of finely chopped ham. It was weird.

I think I would be deeply upset with a local childhood staple done wrong, but none appeared on this list. A Maryland crab cake done wrong would probably actually hurt my feelings.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:41 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


As a Southern American fella who has been marooned in London for the past 15 years, I can assure you that there is no good American food here (besides Five Guys). Stop looking for it, you're just setting yourself up for massively overpriced disappointment. The very simple reason for this is that there is no "American Diaspora" to create a critical mass of supply and demand for a particular nation's style of cuisine. Eat like a local (Fish and chips, pies, Indian, Chinese). You'll be much happier.
posted by Optamystic at 2:33 AM on January 11 [7 favorites]


I'd never considered Eggs Benedict to be a particularly "American" food.
It's a standard breakfast thing. Everywhere makes em.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:45 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


Every few years I recheck to see if I can finally try some Chicago style pizza in London and, as this article confirms, the answer is consistently "no". Which is wild because you can not only get pretty much any cuisine in this city, there's usually at least one place that is legitimately good.

I can vouch for Passyunk Avenue as it has been validated and approved by a few Philly natives. It has also shown me that an "authentic" Philly cheese steak is... alright. Replace the whiz with some actual cheddar and you are starting to get somewhere.

Also, just to go on record, the best slice of pizza in London is plain cheese from Homeslice. Don't @ me.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:00 AM on January 11


Americans leaving America and looking for food abroad and finding it is different so then looking up a list to find out where they can get it more American is the most American thing ever
posted by 0bvious at 3:21 AM on January 11 [8 favorites]


Hey, no hard feelings. I'm well aware that there is loads of perfectly excellent food in London (and loads of perfectly awful food in the US) I'm just having a bit of fun. Why even have articles like this if not so that we can all throw shade on them?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:33 AM on January 11 [8 favorites]


So American food is essentially regional sandwich variations with some pie variants?

- Pizza
- Deep dish pizza: not sure why its never taken off here, I think we think its a quiche
- Sweet pies - apple, pecan, key lime
- Buritto
- Burgers
- Lobster roll
- Cheese steak

Then fried chicken, buffalo wings?

Food trucks which are a relatively new introduction to London (5 years or so) would be the best shout for these, and a few are now coming through more. But yeah, there's not a massive immigrant population of USians keen to set up sandwich places. To be honest, we don't have an very strong sandwich/deli tradition, especially outside London. Most of the sandwich places were typically Italian owned, so we tended to get more panini's etc than your sort of giant club sandwiches.

I can show you some regional British sandwiches that will make you weep with despair. Warm egg and cress. Grated cheese. Some over-ripe slices of tomato. And of course, the Wimpy burger chain.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 3:50 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


The poke looks more like the California-style poke, real Hawaiian poke doesn't really need all that stuff because it's so delicious that you don't really want much else. Californians love their veggies though, so they load it all up with toppings. Still, weirdly accurate.

I feel very uncomfortable yet fascinated by the interpretations on this page though. The "Chicago pizza" looks like it came out of the frozen section.
posted by yueliang at 4:25 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


And of course, the Wimpy burger chain.

Huh, Wikipedia tells me that Wimpy burgers still exist outside the US. I dimly remember that chain from when I was a kid but it seems like it's had a long second life in the rest of the world.
posted by octothorpe at 4:32 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


This feels like being judged by your weird relatives or something. Londonist isn't a great site, and no argument there's a history of terrible shitty American food here and still present, and I'm mad they've lazily listed a lot of it. Still, there's so much great food in this city and it's not all stick to eel pie and mash fish and chips guv you'll not go far wrong, that's vaguely condescending, also don't eat fish and chips in London, go to the coast good lord Mary poppins

Also don't for the love of god do American food outisde of London, had a plate of "burnt ends" in High Wycombe that were like nonlethal shotgun slugs, my god
posted by ominous_paws at 4:37 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


Deep dish pizza: not sure why its never taken off here, I think we think its a quiche

It's because you are rational, right-thinking people who immediately recognize Deep Dish for the horrorshow that it is.

Fight me, Chicago.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:40 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]


How to eat like an American in London:

1) Wrinkle free dockers.
2) Cross trainers/Walking shoes
3) Speak really loudly so people can understand you.
4) Introduce yourself immediately to everyone you meet.
5) Do not detect sarcasm.
6) Ask for Ice in your water (pronounce it "wadder")
7) Order Bud Light or if you are truly a free spirit a Guiness.
8) Complain about service
9) Be surprised that your server is australian.
10) When asked if you are taking the piss look down to check if you are.
posted by srboisvert at 5:37 AM on January 11 [14 favorites]


Replace the whiz with some actual cheddar and you are starting to get somewhere.

NO

Whiz or provolone. Cheddar does not go on a cheesesteak. Leave this cheddar nonsense.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:45 AM on January 11 [10 favorites]


Ask for Ice in your water (pronounce it "wadder")

Or expect ice in your water, even.

Fish-and-chips, above, is indeed something that I imagine Americans must murder on a regular basis, although it's actually a staple in my part of NYS (popularized thanks to what used to be a majority Catholic population in the area--even high-end restaurants still do Friday fish fry).
posted by thomas j wise at 5:49 AM on January 11


There are indeed around 80 Wimpys left in the UK. In the 1970s, when beefburgers where something you ate with mashed potato and peas on a dinner plate, this place where you could go and eat a burger in a bun with ketchup and onions seemed pretty exotic. Forty years on, I live close to a middle-sized UK city where American-style fast food is as common as the old British 'greasy spoon' used to be. I can probably find a dozen places that serve high-end burgers, smoked brisket, pulled pork, mac and cheese, and all that sort of nonsense. Pizza likewise is everywhere, although the influences are more Rome/Naples than New York/Chicago. More recently, I've seen plenty of burrito places about, but Mexican or Tex-Mex cuisine food is at this stage only a vague approximation of the real thing.

I'm not sure what the situation is like across the rest of Europe, but I'd say that the typical medium-sized British city these days offers food options from 20 or more countries, and does most of them passably well.
posted by pipeski at 6:12 AM on January 11


Whiz or provolone. Cheddar does not go on a cheesesteak. Leave this cheddar nonsense.

Authentic ≠ good. How anyone can have strong feelings about whiz does amaze me. It's like a faint memory of cheese.

I am reminded of a line from Dylan Moran talking about how you shouldn't bother with local specialities: "You know why it's local? It's shit. That's why it's local."

(And to be clear, I'd gladly tuck into a philly cheesesteak wit whiz right now, but without a nostalgia or reverence to the original product, I'd take the same basic ingredients in the form of a baguette, good quality rare steak, grilled onions and some cheddar)
posted by slimepuppy at 6:22 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


As my username suggests, I'm an American-born Londoner. I've seen several of those dishes first-hand, and I can testify that they look vastly better in person than they do in those photos. I don't blame Londonist, because I think many of those photos come directly from the restaurants themselves.

I wonder if what we're seeing is less a difference in how food is prepared, and more a difference in how food is photographed. London certainly has its share of deliberately Instagrammable cuisine, but as a very rough generalization, I think Britain is a bit less obsessed with appearances, and rather more reluctant to hard sell, than America. That manifests itself here in a series of photographs that are less "Drool over the gorgeousness of our delights!" and more "We hereby document the food that we offer."

That said, the way to enjoy London's delicious and varied cuisine is definitely to take it on its own terms, and not spend much time hunting down imitations of stuff they do back home.
posted by yankeefog at 6:47 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]


Since I've moved back to Canada I've had to just tell myself never to order fish tacos off of any menu up here. My favourite attempt involved mayo and pita bread and it was a perfectly serviceable fish sandwich but I guess calling it that sounded too pedestrian.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:47 AM on January 11


Blackout cake was a weird inclusion. The last Ebinger's went out of business in like the late 60's. That's like including some bygone theater district place's famous turtle soup as a quintessential American dish. Some of the other list items are a bit of a stretch too I guess, but whereas I'd bet a solid 5 percent of Americans have at least seen a Cubano before, I'd wager less than 5 percent of living New Yorkers have even tasted blackout cake.

And seconding the above comments re: the difference between Persian limes and Key limes and how key lime pie is in no way like a cheesecake.
posted by saladin at 6:59 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


Oh but speaking of citrus varietals and niche desserts, if you're a key lime pie fan I strongly encourage you to seek out some sour orange pie. It's essentially a key lime pie, but made with the super-sour/bitter Seville oranges that the Spanish originally brought with them in the 16th century, that now grow wild all over the place down here. It's so good. True Florida bullshit.
posted by saladin at 7:04 AM on January 11 [6 favorites]


Americans leaving America and looking for food abroad and finding it is different so then looking up a list to find out where they can get it more American is the most American thing ever

Yes, Americans are unique in being the only group of immigrants that find comfort in the food of their native country, how dare they
posted by Automocar at 7:12 AM on January 11 [18 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that Smith & Wollensky, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, and Slim Chickens are American chains, so to get American food in the UK, you can just go to the same restaurants.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:43 AM on January 11


A well-meaning friend took me out for Chicago pizza in London, and it was ... not. But I was touched the pizza place was trying!

I also had Thanksgiving in London that a bunch of Americans organized, that was catered by a curry shop. It was ... sort-of next door to traditional Thanksgiving food? But I think it would have gone a lot better if they just ordered a party amount of really good curry and not had the curry shop try to make a turkey (it didn't go well).

Once I discovered bacon butties, though, I was good on comfort food and didn't need to go find American-style pizza or burgers when I was in funk. Like I first ate one 20 years ago and I STILL can't get over that you're allowed -- nay, encouraged! -- to make a sandwich of JUST BACON, with butter and/or brown sauce. What glorious madness is this?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:45 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Real Key Lime Pie may not be like a cheesecake, but Key Lime Cheesecake is exceptional, and as good as the original.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:46 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


the comments in this thread feel as US-centric and frankly jerkish as I've seen in a while.

Heartily sorry if I went too far. I was aiming for befuddled and jokey, not mean-spirited.

To be fair, though - we kind of always get this way about listicles. They are always wrong, wrong, wrong and we adore skewering the people who don’t see exactly how they are wrong. I find that while we talk big (“You’re wrong and you should feel bad.”) I always take whatever is said in them as tongue in cheek. And add in the subjectivity of food, well...
posted by greermahoney at 7:57 AM on January 11 [5 favorites]


Once I discovered bacon butties, though

You can do just about anything butties. Chip butties are a thing. My wife will often make herself a spaghetti buttie. Frankly almost everything goes with butter and some white bread. The buttie horizon is boundless.
posted by srboisvert at 8:02 AM on January 11 [4 favorites]


Yes, Americans are unique in being the only group of immigrants that find comfort in the food of their native country, how dare they

Please join me in needlessly defensive corner, the sofas are delightfully comfortable.

(greermahoney, no worries, having sat with it a bit I'm mainly mad at londonist's terrible list and a lot of the admittedly terrible food)
posted by ominous_paws at 8:10 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The: "Fight me, Chicago."

the Bay Area also wants a piece.
posted by chavenet at 8:44 AM on January 11


Now I'm wondering what evils we perpetrate on English food.

The mug of warm water served with a basket full of mint and Lipton teabags. I've also seen what some "Irish" pubs in the US call British bacon and how they serve the toast, and I feel sorry for anyone who stumbles in hoping for the comfort food of their childhood.
posted by betweenthebars at 8:53 AM on January 11 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I should say I've had tons of amazing food in London, including stellar burgers. It's a bit odd that there are no burgers on the list as quintessential American food but perhaps that's because everyone knows where to get good ones? At any rate I'm sure a "how to eat like a British person" in most any U.S. city would have equally sad and flabby examples. My British friends' universal complaint is that there are no proper sausages anywhere and they have to use the American pronunciation of "water" in order to be understood.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:23 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


"Fight me, Chicago."

This is always a dangerous thing to say, but the current correct Chicagoan response would be to pick up a good polish and slowly eat it in front of the offender, never breaking eye contact.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:39 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]


Chicago!
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 10:07 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]


You can get excellent fish & chips in many parts of the US (i.e. the coastal ones). It's different from the UK version, but not worse. Different regional variations on the same dish, rather than imitations of a dish from elsewhere.

Anywhere that has access to fresh whitefish, whether that's cod, haddock, catfish, or whatever else will have seafood shacks where you can get big chunks of that fish battered and fried and served with a side of fries (chips). The type of fish and the traditional batter and the dipping sauces may vary depending on whether you're in Massachusetts, Louisiana, Florida, or California—but you can certainly get something delicious in the general mold of "fried fish and fried potato slices." Nobody is trying to specifically imitate the UK style, as far as I know.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 10:33 AM on January 11 [4 favorites]


San Francisco does pretty decent fish and chips. But its a town that was historically (not so much today) very Jewish. Remember, Fish and Chips was a Jewish dish brought to England by immigrants fleeing Pogroms in the 1800's. If you're on a coast, and historically your area had Jews- the Fish and Chips *should* be decent.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:01 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]


Something the US (and a Canada) forgets about fish and chips is that the chips matter. They shouldn't be shoestring fries or brown skin-on deals or wedges, but chunky and fried yellow. Also, mushy or minty peas should be an option, and brown sauce.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:03 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


I mean other types of fries are good, and fried fish is tasty pretty much anywhere, but UK fish and chips have a certain type of chip, sides and condiments.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:05 AM on January 11 [1 favorite]


I believe it. But nobody over here is trying to make that happen because we already have our own versions of fish & chips happening and they are delicious.

I will concede that when they are less than perfect, a lack of attention to the fries is often the problem.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 11:07 AM on January 11


I've also seen what some "Irish" pubs in the US call British bacon and how they serve the toast, and I feel sorry for anyone who stumbles in hoping for the comfort food of their childhood.

Yeah, when I was out for my walk this morning it occurred to me that both "Irish" and "English" pubs are probably serious crimes against Irish and English pubs.
posted by thomas j wise at 11:18 AM on January 11 [3 favorites]


betweenthebars, how do they serve the toast? I didn't know there were national differences in toast.
posted by paduasoy at 11:21 AM on January 11


Chip butties are a thing.

Wait, wait, wait. This is slices of fried white potato on white bread with butter? And you are saying this is a thing that people actually eat?

I always assumed that was just a bad joke about white people, like mayo on wonder bread.
posted by iamnotangry at 12:14 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


we already have our own versions of fish & chips happening and they are delicious.

I'm sure you can imagine the British chefs in the linked article saying they same thing about their versions of American food.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:16 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


I've been to an American fish and chips shop that claimed decent from UK tradition, but it was Ireland, not England. I don't know how it varies. I was more interested in the deep frying of candy bars which I think actually may have started in Scotland?

At any rate, I didn't eat there much but I learned to like vinegar on my chips when I did.
posted by PussKillian at 12:30 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


nobody over here is trying to make that happen because we already have our own versions of fish & chips happening and they are delicious.

well
ok
I
guess
posted by ominous_paws at 12:31 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


This is slices of fried white potato on white bread with butter? And you are saying this is a thing that people actually eat?

To this American, there are two relevant mental states with respect to the chip butty:
1. skeptically, having heard it described but not yet having experienced it; and
2. drunkenly, and with great enthusiasm.
posted by gauche at 12:52 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


Bread and butter is a thing. Why not augment it with salty fries?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:10 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


"Eh, I’ve seen worse versions of all of those."

There's always Tesco Value Eggs Benedict to make you feel better about the overpriced burger version.
posted by randomonium at 1:10 PM on January 11


Wait, wait, wait. This is slices of fried white potato on white bread with butter? And you are saying this is a thing that people actually eat?

Hey, french fry poboys are a thing in New Orleans. They're cheap and they're hot.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:08 PM on January 11


I'm sure you can imagine the British chefs in the linked article saying they same thing about their versions of American food.

Not really? Most of the items in the article seem very clearly and consciously to be emulating a Stateside original. Key lime pie wasn't independently invented in London, and to the best of my knowledge there's no Brooklyn in England for the Brooklyn Pizza Company to be named after.

A thin fried catfish platter from Middendorf's down on Lake Maurepas, on the other hand, is its own thing. It's still battered fried whitefish with deep-fried potato slices, but it's part of a parallel food tradition and isn't trying to be anything but itself. (It's also awesome, get one if you go there.)

I'm not saying America has never butchered another country's regional food, that would be ridiculous. But we have our own thing going on when it comes to fish and chips, even if we do sometimes call it the same thing.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:20 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


Something the US (and a Canada) forgets about fish and chips is that the chips matter. They shouldn't be shoestring fries or brown skin-on deals or wedges, but chunky and fried yellow. Also, mushy or minty peas should be an option, and brown sauce.

Don't forget that they should be half eaten in a bus shelter and the remains tossed in the vicinity of a garbage bin but not actually it it.
posted by srboisvert at 3:20 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


it's part of a parallel food tradition

The discussion here feels very much like "LOL, British food is so bad they can't even do American food right" rather than "well, of course it's not going to be perfectly "American" because it's influenced by a different food tradition".
posted by hoyland at 3:47 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]


Has anyone in this thread said that British food is bad? I mean, the sixth comment in the thread is Naturally, that means we're inflicting the same horror on dishes as well.

Every food on this list is a distinctly regional American food, which means people have strong opinions about it even when other Americans cook it.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:55 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]


I mean it's a listicle. The entire point of listicles is to be all wrong so that people can "engage" with them by arguing about how wrong they are.

London is a world-class food city, OK? That's not in question. This listicle includes a dark brown "lobster roll" with lobster salad that involves seczhuan sauce and appears to have been run through a Cuisinart. It has some kind of vegetable matter on top.

Tell me that wasn't put there specifically to generate outrage.

Seriously though, London (and the UK more broadly) has unlimited amounts of good food, you can feel secure in the deliciousness of your homeland.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:08 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


The discussion here feels very much like "LOL, British food is so bad they can't even do American food right" rather than "well, of course it's not going to be perfectly "American" because it's influenced by a different food tradition".

I really don’t know where you’re getting that from. I think it’s in your own head, mostly. If “British food is bad” has even been said in this thread, it’s been a one-off. I’m not going back to search, but I don’t recall seeing anything like that here.
posted by greermahoney at 6:10 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


I mean even McDonald's can produce a passable lobster roll.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:13 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


I think British food is great. But there’s this assumption that there are no truly American foods (“apple pie is actually Dutch,” you might hear a totally insufferable person say), and that whatever is recognizably American has been exported across the globe and is therefore no longer very unique. Neither of which is true.

So I think a lot of Americans enjoy seeing American things interpreted by people who aren’t as familiar with them. I get a kick out of it because it reminds me of what makes my own culture unique. Like, it turns out American food is more complex than burgers and stuff, and that’s especially apparent when people want to replicate it without having eaten it all their lives.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:36 AM on January 12


Fish and chips... a couple of things.

First, if you're in Edinburgh, go to the charming harbour enclave of Newhaven and visit the Fishmarket, a new restaurant/chippy tun by a local fishmonger and some vaguely famous chef. Lonely Planet says that it's one of teh ten best new eateries in the world, and while that's hyperbole it's understandable hyperbole. It does The Best Fish Supper Carry-out.

Second, fish and chips has a complicated history that is not fully agreed. Fried fish certainly came in with the refugee Sephardic Jews in the 15th century, but the chips were much later. I've always understood them to have been introduced by the refugee Huguenots in the 18th century ("French fries"). But this blogger points out that fried potatoes were in use across the country around then, and muses that the dish could have been a cross-fertilisation between a London Jewish fish frier and a nearby Irish Ordinary.

Whatever, fish and chips as Britain's symbol of our debt to immigrants, tolerance and multiculturalism makes them twice as tasty, and I would fly them on my banner in a trice. Next to a curry and a kebab, obvs.
posted by Devonian at 4:34 AM on January 12 [6 favorites]


"authentic" Philly cheese steak is... alright. Replace the whiz with some actual cheddar and you are starting to get somewhere.

Actually, for me authentic is provolone and cherry peppers, because every time I eat a cheese-steak in philly, no one blinks when I order it. The "wit Wiz" is one of those things that gets included in every article, but it's not true.
posted by mikelieman at 6:15 AM on January 12 [4 favorites]


Like how Hurricanes and Hand Grenades (if that's not already a band name…) are something that you see on every list of iconic New Orleans drinks, but 99% of them are drunk by tourists and also they are intensely atrocious?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:43 AM on January 12


Yeah - "tinned beef" is totally different than "corned beef."

Tinned beef, up here, comes in a tin (the best seem to come from Brazil, or strangely, China) - corned beef is salted beef vacuum sealed in a plastic bag.

There's also Montreal Smoked Meat which is a completely different thing.
posted by porpoise at 7:57 PM on January 12


You can do just about anything butties.

Lasagna butties! Less so today for carb related reasons, but when I was a kid...
posted by ellieBOA at 8:15 AM on January 15


« Older All together now...   |   "It’s mesmerizing, like some kind of x-rated... Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.