Adding to the ever-growing list of ‘odd things I can’t find in England’

Posted on 07.10.2013

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For some reason, I tought I’d find a LOT more American things in England than I was able to find in Germany. I think it was the language that made me think that, or the amount of TV shows that we share, or maybe that whole ‘motherland’ thing… even though it’s not technically MY motherland.

Granted, England has a whole hell of a lot more Pop Tarts flavors than Germany seems to, and I can even get a wide variety of candy bars that were unheard of in Bayern. It’s the odd things that are popping up, and I need to keep a list of them so I can figure out if this is a cultural thing, or something else.

So you CAN now find mint M+Ms over here, which is effing excellent, even though they are really, really expensive. They’re not AS marked up as Marmite is in the states, but it’s close. Kraft has gotten around to shipping Mac ‘n Cheese everywhere, so that’s great.

grenadineThe most interesting thing I haven’t been able to find over here so far has been grenadine. This isn’t just a case of ‘can’t find it in the supermarket’s alcohol aisle’, it’s a case of it NOT EVEN BEING SERVED IN PUBS.

It’s because of the absence in pubs that I’ve come to believe this is a cultural issue. The English love a good beer and a good Gin and Ginger, but for some reason the ladies here aren’t ordering many cosmos. I’ve been able to find an excellent selection of gluten-free beers everywhere, but if I want a coke and grenadine (because seriously, once you have had that you will NEVER want cherry coke again), I have to make it by mixing my juices at home. Oddly enough, everyone seems to have blackcurrant syrup on hand, and blackcurrant is the main ingredient in grenadine… ? It tastes different, though.

Other odd things I’ve learned lately: the English call it a ‘Gin-tini’. I was under the impression that the ORIGINAL martini (pre-Bond) was actually made with gin, rather than vodka… so to call it a Gin-tini is like calling an Akita “Akita inu dog” (Akita dog dog).

Also, Amazon.co.uk doesn’t have a health and beauty section to buy or sell make up, which might be a legal thing, not too sure about that.

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England also has an almost pathological fear of people trying to off themselves with weak painkillers (see my previous post about needing 1500mg paracetamol every 2 hours to kill a headache), so there is a law in place that keeps you from purchasing more than two packs of anything with paracetamol or aspirin in it at a given time. This doesn’t fix the fact that I could go through the line in a store twice or hand some to a friend to buy more than 2 packs, which I’ve already done, mind you. It’s just for each individual purchase.  The systems are actually programmed to check and keep track of how many items with these ingredients get rung up per transaction and they don’t allow more than two PER.

And to top things off and absolutely RUIN my stain-removal track record, that 90-cent brown bottle of peroxide that is available at every drug store and supermarket in America is almost as difficult to find here as it was in Germany. I think in Germany I had to buy it from an Apotheke (drug store), but here we can’t even seem to find it in those shops… which means I’m still searching and in the meantime, using creamy shampoo to remove stains, which doesn’t work nearly as well as peroxide does. I imagine this is hard to find for the same reasons you can’t buy lots of painkillers, since it is poisonous if swallowed. I have to look into the suicide rates in England, as they must be pretty high if so many things are so hard to buy!

In other news, the workers at the closest drug store to us didn’t know what MS was… I will forever be spoiled by the training that the workers in Germany had to go through just to stand behind those counters!

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Posted in: Culture shocks