Wednesday, December 30, 2009

These Are A Few Of My (least) Favorite Things

Counting down to the new year, here is number four of five sets of items that really get on my tits.

Volume 4: Five Myths About The English

To describe the English as a single people is daunting, if even possible. It’s far easier to describe what they’re not. The stereotype of the tea-drinking, horseback-riding socialite is as off as describing every American as a Disney-loving, burger-downing, beer-chugging, loud obnoxious American Football fanatic.

To follow are what I consider the five most egregious errors in American perception of the Brits.

Myth #1. All English People Are Polite

This one is probably the most laughable. The English are a far more cynical people as a general rule – and they do not bend over backwards mincing words and dancing around topics nearly as much as we Americans tend to.

In the US if you are overweight, you are: plus-sized, curvy, heavier, etc…
In England if you are overweight you are: Fat. Bulbous. Rotund. Pudgy.

The English tend to be far more direct, and as above, will think nothing of calling a spade a spade, as they say.

There seems to be a perception that rednecks are indigenous and located only in the US. There are rednecks everywhere, and you can find just as many at a truck stop in Mississippi as you can at a rugby match in a pub. I challenge you to point out the differences in attitude and disposition.

Myth #2. All English People Drink Tea

Well, many of them do. But the water is different there, and therefore the tea tastes totally different. The fact is, they look at tea as we look at coffee. And no, they do not drink it out of small doilied china. They drink it out of whatever’s handy. And no, they do not have crumpets and scones with each tea. Probably as many drink coffee as they do tea.

Myth #3. The English Accent

As in the Southern accent I mentioned a couple of days ago, there is no one single English accent. In fact, you might travel 20 minutes in another direction and encounter a very different dialect.

My Dad could discern where an English person was from, usually within 20 miles or so, after hearing a single sentence spoken. And no, they do not all speak “the Queen’s English.” In fact, if you think some of our accents can be grating, try listening to some of theirs.

The first time I heard a Brummie accent, I didn’t even recognize it as English.

Myth #4. The Food Is Terrible

I went to Chef’s school in England, and I can tell you categorically that this is flat wrong. Yes, there are a few English dishes that our palates may not be able to handle, as were not raised on these dishes. There’s Marmite, (a spread), which resembles axel grease in color, texture and smell. There’s black pudding, which is essentially congealed blood, and of course steak & kidney pie. But there are also some wonderful stews, desserts, sausages, soups, roasts, and sauces.

The Full English Breakfast, consisting of baked beans, stewed tomatoes, fried eggs, bacon, (real – or what we in the US call Canadian – bacon), sausage, and toast. There is nothing better for a hangover than the Full English Breakfast, which is for what I believe it was designed.

An argument can be made that curry, as we know it anyway, originated in England. There is nothing better than to walk out of a pub at midnight, having had way too many local beers, and get a doner kebab at a stand to accompany you on the stagger home.

Cornish Pasties, a meat and potato-filled puff pastry were designed for farmers to carry and eat while they worked. If you can find a real one, do not pass it up.

English food is – simply – wonderful. Designed to be hearty in the bitterly cold, damp English winters, you cannot go wrong (or rarely) with a pub dinner in the countryside. I challenge anyone who has never been to sample the food in England and come back to tell me it’s not good.

Myth #5. The English Have Bad Teeth.

Some do. But some do here as well. The cultures in the US and the UK are not entirely alien to each other – they’re at once similar and a world apart. But the aesthetic sense is very much the same. No, the NHS is not perfect, and yes, the NHS will just assume pull a tooth out as repair it (or so I’ve heard), but on the whole, English teeth are as straight and white as those in the US.

I have so much more to say on this topic, but for the sake of brevity I thought I’d narrow this down to what I believe to be the top five.

Some of these prejudices definitely go both ways. Ask some English people to draw a picture of the US, and you will notice Florida taking up about half the country. I was even told by a coworker there that the only way they go to the US is to fly directly into Disney World and fly directly back out. To me that’s just as obscene as Americans flying into London and back out, with nothing in between but London. Or the tour groups that stop in a place like Windsor and have a cream tea, see the castle and leave, and say they “did Windsor.”

You cannot get to know a place in a tour group. But that rant will wait for tomorrow, when I will go off on what ticks me off about tourists, (yes, I know they’re the reason I have a job, and I know I have been known to be one) and will complete my 2009 bitch session.



Evil Twin's Wife said...

Good gracious! I consider the Eggs Benedict to be the ultimate hangover cure and even often the 4th meal to top off the evening! With Canadian bacon, of course!

Will Shealy said...

Ooh, never thought of that - I'll try it next time!