I’ve been living in America for nearly 3 months now and I can’t help thinking that both countries could be made better with a bit of a Transatlantic Swap Shop (TSS) of basic, everyday life enhancing items. I’m not talking big stuff here, no politics, just a few simple to tips to help UK/US relations, and enrich lives both sides of The Pond.
TSS#1: Grilled Cheese for Crumpets
America doesn’t have crumpets! I suspect strongly that Americans would LOVE crumpets. OK, in return: So in the UK we make cheese (+) toasties. It’s a faff doing that and the things can be very dry. Here in America they put a slice of buttered bread, butter face down in a pan, add the cheese and flip it with another slice of upside down buttered bread. It’s the same but deliciously different and quick. You only need a pan. It’s not dry. It tastes amazingly right.
That’s both countries improved right there.
TSS#2: Parking Spaces and Roundabouts (Circles!)
Car parking is better in America. Spaces are appropriate for car size and they are plentiful. In most situations it’s free. Given I have a sound GCSE in Geography, I know that this isn’t something solvable by a quick letter to town planning, but still, maybe in a naïve dream world where car ownership per head was proportional to available land and space (and cars didn’t pollute anything), it’s something us Brits could aspire to.
In return, America, have a think about more roundabouts. There are a few here known more literally as circles. I get the impression American’s aren’t keen. I think they’re better though – they keep things moving a bit like a natural laxative for traffic.
TSS#3: Reusable Shopping bags and (really good) Internet Food Shopping
Back in the UK, I’d finally perfected my reusable bag routine. It took a while but I rarely needed to pay that 5p for a carrier. My reusable bags were gorgeous; some had hearts on, one even had pretty clouds! The bag thing felt like everyone was a winner. In America, this doesn’t seem to be happening yet. In the early weeks I went into the supermarkets with my lovely bags and it felt like it was annoyingly messing with the systems. Reusable bags are good.
In return, America does Internet grocery shopping right. You order on line, chose a perfectly convenient collection slot, go to a store and announce your arrival into an intercom and within minutes your shopping is in your boot (trunk), while you pay without leaving your car. I know the UK does this but it felt second fiddle to having it delivered. Given that this system is not profitable for the retailers and a bit of a pain and expense for the receiver (in my humble opinion), I’m a convert to the American way.
TSS#4: Indian and Mexican Food
Indian takeaways and restaurants are oddly not big in America. It’s an indulgent food genre that theoretically should not be missing here. The UK Indian food scene is ritualistic and awesome. Come on Brit’s lets take the Americans out for some poppadums, chutneys, a Vindaloo, a side order of something aloo and wash it down with a ginormous Cobra beer. We can look at the kulfi ice creams together, decide not to have one and wait for the After Eight to come with free shot of Bailey’s. (They’ll love it).
In return, we can learn a lot from America about Mexican food. OK, I know you can get it in England, but it’s better here. It’s quite healthy in some places too with lots of vegetarian options that are nice. The supermarkets are full of all the things you need to make it at home. Tortillas, tacos, beans, guacamole…burritos for breakfast! Improving UK/US relations, Step One: Americans – invite us over for a Mexican, and in return you can pop to ours for an Indian. Sorted.
TSS#5: Cheese, Chocolate and Washing Machines
America, there are 2 amazing gifts we can bestow on you: The first is good, mature cheddar cheese. Now an enquiry to a knowledgeable friend revealed that mature is not a good food word for Americans in relation to food products. In cheese, the vernacular is mild and sharp (!). Even so, a good British Cheddar will have a party in your mouth, it will initially cause you to make a funny “eeeee” face, then it will settle into something that will put you momentarily in a trance state. Secondly, it’s good smooth and creamy Milk Chocolate. The only thing that stops me setting up a business to do this is that American chocolate is actually a good deterrent for eating much of it.
And here is the gift I would like to place a subtle hint that you, America, give us Brits for Christmas: Your laundry appliances. PLEEEASE…. These are amazing. Huge beasts, utterly fit for purpose. They look like they mean business and they do. Huge loads! Cycle options that are understood and appropriate (i.e. BIG load vs. an ominous letter you have to look up in the manual you’ve lost. And they’re quick.
Aaaaaah, improving the world feels good.