By Nicole Souza
It’s important to experience other countries’ traditional cuisine while traveling. The escargot in France, the pizza in Italy, and soft pretzels in Germany are all must-have foods that you have to try once in your lifetime. But what about the options at your local city’s grocery store? Living in London, I’ve been able to eat at quite a handful of restaurants all specializing in different cuisines ranging from Indian, Thai, Italian and classic British pub food. To my surprise though, I’ve been able to get a rush of excitement about international food from simply going weekly grocery shopping at a nearby Tesco or Sainsbury’s. It’s so sad that America doesn’t have the same products that the British store on their shelves. Here is a list of hidden food gems that I believe should be brought to local grocery stores in the States:
This is the sponge sister of English Muffins. While the texture differs from the Thomas brand, the subtly sweet taste in the bread is what made me obsessed at first bite. I can simply toast them, make an egg sandwich with two slices, or spread jam, butter, or honey on them. You can also try the large version, or even the mini version, which are called Picklets! Thank you, Warburtons!
- Rekorderlig: Strawberry Lime
Buying your Angry Orchards in America just isn’t the same as getting your Rekorderlig. This hard cider brand comes in a variety of flavors including pear, wild berries, mango-raspberry, passionfruit, and the all-time favorite strawberry-lime. It’s a super sweet alcoholic drink, practically without any trace of alcohol, so it’s almost like drinking an extra-sugary juice (my kind of drink)! If you aren’t into alcoholic drinks, this is the perfect starter for you.
- Bon Bons
The British version of your favorite confectionary candy, but in ball form! These cuties can accompany your afternoon tea, be a late night snack, or can be enjoyed at any time of the day! Flavors range from Toffee, Apple, Chocolate, and Rhubarb. The name comes from the French word bon, meaning good. (Basically they are good goods! 🙂 )
- Giraffe Bread
Originally named Tiger bread, this animal-skin bread tastes nothing like the name implies. The crusty outside provides a texture with the spotted “coat”, and when eaten warm, it is delectably delicious! Pair it with any meal, and you can even slice it up and make garlic bread. If you aren’t hungry, just looking at it can give you enough satisfaction as well. Who wouldn’t prefer this cool-looking bread compared to your average grocery store loaf?
- Scotch Egg
I thought the egg burger was genius, but an egg coated with deep fried bread crumbs and sausage meat is just brilliant. You eat a mouthful of protein with this ball of wonderful-ness (speaking from a vegetarian who made an exception to try this baby!) Not only did I find these in grocery stores, but most of the markets in London I explored had these as well. This ups your hard boiled egg game so many levels!
- Sushi cone
Ok, so maybe you can’t get this at your local grocery store, but a handful of sushi restaurants and bars, including the famous Wasabi sushi place, offer these cones in a variety of flavors. What makes them so great is that you can eat it on the go!
Love your Belvita biscuits? Then Digestives are the next cookies you gotta try. They were originally invented in the United Kingdom by Scottish doctors who were trying to create a treat that could aid people’s digestive problems (hence the name!) They are illegal to sell in the United States, unless you visit an international market that imports them and has a license to sell them. Eat them plain, or eat em’ covered in dark chocolate. And while you do that, you can watch this cutest commercial ever created:
- Penguin candy bar
Featuring your favorite arctic animal, Penguins are chocolate covered biscuits that have a filling in the middle. They are another product of the McVitie’s manufacturing company, and you can try the orange, mint, toffee, or in cake roll form. If you’re dying to try them, you can order them from Amazon.
- Hot Cross buns
Occasionally eaten during the Easter holiday, I’ve noticed that the British sell these buns all year round. The frosting cross over the top clearly is supposed to be a religious symbol, but you don’t have to be celebrating the end of Lent to enjoy them. The original kind contains raisins and currants, but now you enjoy them in flavors such as chocolate chip, orange, and even sour-dough!
- Clotted cream
It’s not butter, it’s not buttercream…this light and fluffy spread is a dairy product that is produced by steaming the milk then letting it sit to cool. As it settles, the cream substance rises or “clots,” hence where it gets its name. I love it because it is not dense like butter, and the look of it reminds me of vanilla ice cream! It is commonly found to be paired with biscuits at afternoon tea, but you can use it anytime of the day on your breads, and you can pair it with your favorite jams!
You never know what you’re going to like, so why not test out a new food at an affordable price at your local grocery store instead of a high end restaurant? It’s fun and affordable!