Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Banana is Not the Only Cake

Oven Spring

I've spoken here about American tourists and even their likenesses to English tourists. Looking back through the archives, I haven't spent nearly as much time complaining about Americans on the blog as I do to friends here in the city. Perhaps there is a reason why some folks think I'm awfully hard on the locals.

Last year at about this time, I sat in front of my computer at my local-international-chain-coffee shop trying to get a few words down on the page before I went to my terrible country-wide-chain job. I like to sit with my back to walls and within easy view of both the doors and the tills. There is only one plug in the coffee shop that caters to this particular predilection of mine. It sits me within whispering distance of the punters. Nice British word there--punters.

Three things happen rather predicatably in the queue for coffee. There is always someone who is horrified by the price of a brownie. They're cheaper at the grocery store just up the street, and yet said person will complain to the barista about the prices before buying said brownie. Someone will complain that the location of the queue is not obvious. The location of the queue is completely obvious even to Americans who do not queue. And someone will complain that their cappuccino is mostly foam, or as those of us who make coffee like to call it--a cappuccino.

Unfortunately, sitting with my back to the cityscape that is exactly like the cityscape in your local-international-chain coffee shop makes it nearly impossible for me not to stare in disbelief. Honestly, I get the the cappuccino thing. There a plenty of places that only serve espresso, and if you don't know the lingo you may well think that cappuccino is the easiest way to obtain something white coffee like (ask for an americano with warm milk or cold). And really the prices are higher than the grocery store, but you're rather getting a different product and you're paying over the odds because you choose to. And really, I've yet to identify someone who was actually confused by the queue location rather than being unwilling to admit that they were trying to jump the queue altogether.

Tourist season is particularly interesting as every American desperate for a taste of home will drop in for the coffee that tastes the same around the world. Did I mention to anyone that my trip back to the states proved this wrong? It did.  More wrong though, was hearing the following exchange:

American Tourist A: Banana Muffins? What do those taste like?
American Tourist B: It's a local cake. You can only get it in this part of England.

They taste just like your grandmother's banana bread, ladies. Just like your grandmother's banana bread in a muffin casing.

On the bread front, I've solved the oven-spring problem. I don't know why I was kneading the dough a third time before placing it in the oven. I'm learning.






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