An Introduction to British Food for US Expats

There’s no denying that the British do have a reputation for bad food.  But if I’m honest so does America–the home of fast food.   I guess what both countries lack is the same attitude to food as the French or the Italians where food is an integral part of daily life. Nevertheless, when faced with the prospect of moving to London many Americans are nervousness about British food.  Will they be able to find the same type of food?  Are the ingredients for ethnic foods such as Chinese, Japanese or Mexican food readily available?

It’s also not uncommon for Americans moving to London worry that they will no longer be able to find their (or their children’s) favorite cookies or a particular brand of peanut butter.  I’ve even met a few US expats that filled up their container with a whole year’s supply of some food staple when they moved here, only to find that it or a better alternative was readily available in the grocery stores.  So there’s really no need for an American in London to “fret” (as the British would say) about finding the right food here in London.

Of course after moving to London you may find that there is a bit of a variation with some of the food on offer here, but it will be a reasonable alternative.  London is one of the world’s most international cities and is home to hundreds of different communities.  Generally, whatever you are looking for you’ll find it in London.   As an American in London, the hardest item I’ve had to find for an American recipe was ground cardamom for Christmas cookies.  Though not available in grocery stores, I did find it at the Spice Shop in Blenheim Crescent in Notting Hill.  So while US expats in other part of the UK may struggle to find canned pumpkin or leading American food brands (or even the odd spice) here in London they are readily available—at a price, of course.  Importing American foods from across the Atlantic is an expensive business.

If you’re a newly arrived American in London, you may also worry about the quality and variety of the food in restaurants and cafes.  Once again, you really don’t need to worry.   Of course, all US expats need to exercise good judgement about an establishment.  A dirty fast food place offering all you can eat for a few Pounds sounds a bit risky, while a busy, clean and sensible priced cafe shouldn’t be an issue.  If anything, as an American in London your main worry will be the price of eating out, which come as a bit of a shock.  Most US expats tend to convert the price of everything back into dollars for the first few months after moving to London and they’ll be alarmed to find they are paying $5 for a coffee.  After a few months of living here an American in London becomes accustomed to the price of food and eating out here.

So if you are moving to London in the near future and worried about taking American food with you, don’t stress about it.  It’s easy to find here.  However, the price of American favorites and eating out in London may be more difficult to swallow.

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