Britain Trip Memories – Grocery Stores, Pints, Pubs, and… Eggs?

I have a distinct memory specifically of eggs. There’s more to this post than eggs, but I start off with a picture…

Eggs! On a shelf! In a not-busy Sainsbury’s in Kensington. Yes, I got weird looks from the natives, while taking this picture.

You see, in Britain (and other countries of the world) selling eggs in the store, off the shelf, not refrigerated, is… Normal.

I had heard of this, of course, but had forgotten.

On our first night in London, we “popped” (If you can call it that. my feet were Disneyworld sore. Y’all know what I mean…) to the local supermarket, named Sainsbury’s.

Pimm’s and a Pint in a spot near Trafalgar Square. Ahh…

We went to pick up fixings for a picnic lunch the next day, some dinner (aka salad, strawberries, wine, and a roast chicken) and various other healthy snacks to tide us over while visiting one of the most expensive cities in the world to eat in. It was fun to poke around the aisles, find the differences in our food versus their food. To peruse the wine selection and have some smartly-dressed gentleman force an Italian red into my hands saying “This one, dear, won’t taste like petrol.”.

My husband’s first pie and chips in a pub. He says this was a highlight of our trip… having a pint and a pie in a pub.

So when we happened across the egg aisle, I stopped, staring at the incongruity to my grocery shopping sensibilities. It took me a few seconds, then I remembered that article my husband and I had read not too long ago about why we have eggs in the fridge, when the rest of the world laughs at usdoesn’t.

It has to do with the processing of eggs in North America. Apparently, us North Americans buy eggs that have been washed during the inspection and grading process with special soap-chemical stuff. This removes an important cuticle on the shell. That loss makes eggs susceptible to bacteria, hence they get refrigerated to prevent growth of said dangerous wee beasties. When the eggs aren’t washed, that cuticle stays in place and is like steel-plate armour for the egg, against marauding e coli and salmonella. Their eggs are shinier, and the shell is a lot thicker *tap-tap*! It reminded me of when we used to buy farm fresh eggs.

There is other important info to go with that (SCIENCE!), but I digress.

I think seeing those eggs was one of many small (most-often joyful) observations I filed away as we experienced food first in London, then Essex, where our friends make their home. We share a lot of traditions in our food (heck, I love our locals here in the Byward Market, and the Fish and Chips can be just as good) with Britain, you know. It was really fun to ensure we did stop at a couple of pubs for pints. I, for one, will never tire of remembering the moment my husband broke open his first “pie” at the pub near our hotel. The expression on his face was priceless. Pies aren’t my thing, I prefer scampi and chips, that sort of thing. It was also a truly wonderful thing (Yes, it was totally a thing. An EPIC thing) when we grabbed Indian food on our last night before flying home. THAT is a post in itself, at some point.

It was comforting and welcoming, in a way, to find those similarities. It was immensely interesting to experience the differences too!

Anyone who has small kids here in Canada will get a kick out of this. My two were amazed. Finz? What?

Food is a factor that brings cultures together. People of different descent can share a meal together and it can break down barriers. Food can be a source to understanding the way of life in a foreign place. In other words, I think it would be a shame to travel to other parts of the world and only eat hamburgers, if you get my point.

Now, England is not really a “foreign place” per se, but the nuances of how the food was cooked, displayed, and packaged was a highlight. It may seem mundane to some, but when I looked at the sandwich selection at the Starbucks coffee stores we visited, it was quite neat to try them, and understand what a breakfast sandwich was in Britain, as opposed to Canada (read: My husband does not think British people know what an egg sandwich is supposed to taste like). I rather liked them, but didn’t partake of the “brown sauce” they kept trying to give me. I didn’t care for the taste, much.

I got a true kick out of seeing products on the store shelf that my grandmother used to buy at Marks & Spencer in the Don Mills Shopping Centre. I reminisced about the breakfast sausages, Jammy Dodgers, Lukozade, Polos, etc. I remembered how she used to lament at the quality of tea, and would not drink anything but Red Rose (Only in Canada, you say? Pity…).

I realized that I was exposed to a lot of “British” foods while I was growing up, because of my Grandmother. She was staunchly British, despite coming over to Canada as a young girl, and when I was really little, I thought she was a sister of the Queen, since they both had coiffed grey hair, conservative tailored skirt-suits, and owlish glasses. I wonder sometimes if that isn’t why I have an emotional response when I see the Queen on TV (or in person… Yes indeed, another blog post in the works, y’all).

I am digressing again… Let’s just say there were a lot of memories of her (Grannie, not the Queen) triggered during our visits to the Sainsbury’s.

I was on the plane home when I had a random thought, thumbing through pictures on my phone. “I wonder if Grannie had thought it strange to see eggs in the fridge when she came to Canada?” and marveled at our shared heritage, experienced so specifically through food.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s