London was magic. Each time I went was a wonder, but also, I was ready to go home after three weeks. I missed my family and my little routines that I developed without even thinking about them. Each time, I was excited to get back to work at the Zim for the summer. Ann Arbor has its own sort of weird pull on me.
The biggest thing I missed was American food. I’m not even going to lie. I 100% think it was a case of needing comfort food, but let me tell you, after wanting to see my parents and wanting my own bed in my own room that I didn’t have to share with anyone but my own personalities, I wanted American food.
- McDonald’s Coke: Let me just tell you the tragedy of England. None of the pop at fast food restaurants had carbonation. Why? They poured the drinks and then let them sit out until they were ordered, instead of doing it the RIGHT way and pouring the drink when you order it. Quality OVER speed, England. I will wait an extra 30 seconds for you to pour me a fresh Coke. So yeah, I stepped off the plane wanting a cold, crisp, carbonated Coke from McDonald’s.
- Anything remotely spicy: England didn’t quite understand Mexican food, which I get. England was in this lavish gated community, whereas the US and Mexico get invited to the same block party. But after three weeks, yes you want diablo sauce. You don’t even care if they give you a taco to put it on. You’ll just pour that shit into your mouth.
- Taco Bell and Panda Express: I always want Panda Express, but never more so than when I’m in a country that doesn’t even have one. At least in America, I’m soothed by the knowledge that I could drive to one, however out of the way it was. In England, I just, I don’t know how they survive. No Panda, and, Holy Mother of God, no Taco Bell. What is wrong with them?
- Mashed potatoes and gravy at KFC: Wuut? Catford’s KFC served French Fries instead of mashed potatoes. Not the same thing, England. I’m not even much of a fan of KFC or fake potatoes, but if I’m going to eat at KFC, you better serve mashed potatoes. It’s a rule.
- Ted’s/Ken’s: Sometimes you just want to go where everyone knows your name. Even though England speaks the same language, there’s nothing quite like the camaraderie of being among your people at a restaurant. The news and shows on the televisions are about things you know about. The sports make sense. You don’t have to worry about innate hatred towards Americans because everyone is American. And the food tastes like home.
- Yellow Mustard: This shocked me. They don’t really have yellow mustard, at least not at the store where I shopped. They had grainy mustards and Dijon, and everything that I wouldn’t put on a hot dog or a turkey sandwich. And let me tell you, after an astoundingly traumatizing event with lemon mustard chicken, I hate potent tasting mustards. They can go die along with the single arm that wields them.
- Hidden Valley Ranch: Have you ever tried to assemble a vegetable tray without Hidden Valley Ranch dip mixed into sour cream? It’s so hard. It goes against everything I know to be true. I mean, sure, they have their fancy vegetable dips that are premade and taste perfectly fine. But my family always has Hidden Valley Ranch, and if it’s not broke don’t fix it.
- Welch’s Grape Juice: I made the mistake of purchasing juice at Tesco without reading the label. I realized, after forcing myself through a few terrible glasses of it, that the juice was double concentrate. Who sells that right next to all of the other juices? That’s sadism. I mean, I could fill a water bottle and add a tablespoon of this juice and it would taste right. It took me so long to drink that whole bottle. I had to beg others to drink it too. All I wanted was Welch’s. They have never betrayed me so cruelly.
- Coca-Cola: Coke is not the same in England. It’s a different recipe. You can’t quite tell when you’re drinking flat as hell Coke from McDonald’s, but when you crack open that can and take a swig, your first thought is, “Dammit! They’ve destroyed this too?” What the hell.
- Anything my mom wants to cook me: I think the biggest thing, especially after my first trip to London, was that I did not want to cook for myself anymore. I get no joy out of cooking. I do it largely out of necessity to survive. If I could afford to each out every night, even to this day, I would. More than all of the trivial things I’ve mentioned above, I came back to America hoping for at least a week in which my mom would pamper me and make me dinner. Hell, I still want a week in which my mom will pamper me and cook me dinner. If that means my Adult card has to be revoked, fine. Take it. It’s yours.