Tag Archives: england

Food Spotlight: European Grocery Shopping

In England I experienced my first grocery store experience. It didn’t seem like much difference or highlight in my journey until I began to look more closely at the shelves. For instance, I love orange juice with high pulp. In Britain, however, it’s not called pulp, but bitsOne thing that you should notice right away is the amount of country labels plastered over all the shelves! I don’t mean to sound negative (because I don’t really have a solid side on any of these nationalism debates), but I do think it was a bit excessive in some areas. There were bag of chips (or crisps as the Brits call them), water, or milk that kept emphasising their “Britishness.” Being a political science major, I am quite interested in the relation of expressions of nationalism to globalisation, american hegemony, and economics. That is: are the bottles of water labeled as “purely British” as a marketing gimmick to sell the brand OR was it due to deeper socio-cultural notions of superiority or incompatibility? Great paper I could see myself writing in a few months. I’ll let you guys know how that goes!

It was interesting to see familiar brands, but with slightly different labelling along with discovering new products with weird and outlandish flavours. In addition to different names for similar food attributes (eg. bits/pulp), there were things like roast chicken and garlic flavoured chips and orange-cream-filled chocolate bars that immediately caught my eye. The way the food was stored was also a bit of a surprise. Things like eggs weren’t always stored on refrigerated shelves, but were instead being kept at room temperature. Also, growing up by the sea, I’ve seen seafood on ice, but never so far away from the sea and in such quantities (I lived near a market street that was lined with all types of meat and seafood sitting in open-air displays).

For the most part, I’m still alive and the food is delicious, so maybe all the extra-sterile advertisement in the U.S. isn’t as all that it’s hyped up to be?

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Video Post: Journey to the Heart of London (Part 3)

I hadn’t exactly planned out the day’s sites by the hour and had not thought Buckingham Palace would have been open for the few hours that I was open. So, I missed the changing of the guard (which I had expected to miss) and the tour hours of the palace =(.

But I think that I was able to see what I think is the most impressive square I have ever laid eyes upon: Trafalgar Square in Westminster, London. The layout of the square was simply inspiring and it certainly fulfills its task of reminding visitors of the glorious victory over the Napoleonic forces at the Battle of Trafalgar. At the centre of the square is a massive column bearing a statue of Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, leader of the British forces who died during the Battle.

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On my Facebook fan page, you can find tons of extra photos. Also don’t forget to check the link for the short video clip I made this day. (I have a low-quality version on Facebook for mobile or low-bandwidth readers and a higher quality version at YouTube).

London: Facebook Album 2

Facebook Video

YouTube Video

Journey to the Heart of London (Part 2)

In London I went on my first hop-on-hop-off city bus tour. These are great for people who don’t have a lot of time to see all the historic or important landmarks in a place like London, where they are plentiful and somewhat widely dispersed. These buses have person audio guides that play background music reflective of the historical background/heritage of the particular country/area of operation. The background music for this tour consisted of historic christian (and, British) hymns.

I was reminded of the historical (and persisting) relationship between church and state that most Americans (and most other democracies for that matter) would probably wince at. You see, in England, the Anglican (or Episcopal) church is established by law as the national church. As a public institution, it provides marriages, baptisms, and other services to believing members and non-believers alike. The Supreme Governor of the Church of England is the English Sovereign, whose power is usually exercised through Parliament.

They played pieces such as Now Thank We All Our God and O God Our Help in Ages Past. I also heard Jerusalem/And Did Those Feet in Ancient Time (William Blake), which I kept hearing on TV commercials as well. The words of the hymn appear below. Even if you’re not “religiously affiliated,” it’s interesting to note, simply even for poetic analysis, the interesting nature of the hymn.

And did those feet in ancient time.
Walk upon England’s mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England’s pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England’s green & pleasant Land.

Dripping with patriotic mysticism, this hymn must be one of the most rhetorical I’ve heard yet. With an answer to the first verse in the positive being highly implausible, Blake juxtaposed the fantastical with the metaphorically possible “arrows of desire,” and the idealized reality of England’s “green & pleasant land.” One feels obliged to see the whole thing not as an ode to an unreachable utopia of the future, but as a call to constant vigilance in the creation of idealized (but tenable) peace through mental and physical exertion in the present.

Check out more photos in the extended Facebook Album

Besides the content, the hymn is truly a beauty to hear. I’ve included a link at the end of the post. Hear it here:

Journey to the Heart of London (Part 1)

Today I decided to visit London, London. Yes, I used to think that London was only the place I visited today, but now I know that it can refer to Greater London and not the City of London. The city is unique in the UK as it is headed by a the City of London Corporation. The visit was an awesome learning experience!

Hereford to Manchester

I slept in Oxford to save travel time on my last day of my BritRail pass validity. I decided I’d have lunch as far west as,my pass allowed. Because my pass wasn’t valid in Wales, this happened to be Hereford. Because the walk from my friend’s place to the station was too far, I rung up a cab. The driver and I had a wonderfully entertaining conversation about preservatives, steroids,many a comparison of American, British, and self-grown and organic fruits and foodstuffs. after the long ride to Hereford I got out at the station where I almost froze to death from the icy wind and steady rainfall. I quickly changed my mind and decided that Manchester in the north would be a better choice as being a bigger city, would have more food options, and a safe distance away to maybe have a different weather environment than unwelcoming Hereford that day. After an even longer train ride, I arrived at Manchester where it was noticeably warmer, but the rain persisted. The increase in lunch choices skyrocketed in the large metropolitan hub that awaited me. I got off a bus near Piccadilly gardens in search for food. I found , where I had a beef pot pie with French fries and salad. With the rainy-but interesting view from my table out the window, I was able to enjoy the awesome meal.

 

I seemed to have deleted the photos of this day from my camera! I will started emptying the card regularly so that I don't have to rush and delete 900 photos in a panic for more space on the road.