What can you do if you’re craving British food in America?
With an estimated 5.5 million British citizens living abroad and more than 300,000 people joining them every year it is hardly surprising that demand for British food and groceries overseas is booming.
Of course, part of the joy of living in another country is the opportunity to experience a new and exciting food culture. I am very fortunate that my current home, California, has some of the best cuisine in the United States – influenced by waves of immigration from Latin America, Japan, China, South East Asia and Eastern Europe.
To walk down the main shopping street in my district in the west of San Francisco is to pass through, within the space of around a mile, microcosms of Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, Russia, Poland and Mexico. I could eat pho for breakfast, sushi for lunch and have burritos for dinner every day if I wished.
But, sometimes I crave certain British foods and groceries: proper tea, Jaffa cakes, HP sauce, baked beans, a warm British ale! These things are much harder to find even here in San Francisco and, if you’re currently further afield, probably almost impossible to come across.
So, where are the best places to buy your favorite British food and groceries online?
It is a fact universally acknowledged by all Brits that it is impossible to find a decent cup of tea beyond the shores of blighty. Many have tried, but no matter how long you leave that Lipton Yellow Label (*dry retches*) bag to brew, it will never taste right.
In fact, British tea culture – as American expats in Britain have discovered – is a complex beast. What’s clear is that the Brits cannot be separated from their tea for long. So where are the best places to buy proper British tea online?
- Yorkshire Tea via Amazon – By far the simplest and best value way fulfil your tea craving (in the USA at least) is simply to buy through Amazon. You can pick up 240 bags of my favorite – Yorkshire Blend – for under $20.
- Twinings – I know some people who swear only Twinings English Breakfast will work for them. If that’s you, check out their website. They go to extraordinary lengths to minimize the postage costs, only passing on the precise courier costs for your delivery.
- Whittards – If you’re after something fancier than your average brew, you might want to try Whittards. The famously posh tea shop delivers loose leaf teas to several dozen countries, including the USA.
British Chocolate, Sweets and Candy
British expats across the United States were outraged over a deal struck earlier this year to prevent the mass importation of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Who was the evil villain behind this heinous crime? Hershey’s — manufacturers of many of America’s famously indigestible chocolates, including a pale imitation of the British Cadbury’s Dairy Milk bar.
The deal also led to the ban on the import into USA of a number of other British favorites, including Yorkie Bars (too similar to York Mint Patties), Toffee Crisps (the orange packet looks like a Peanut Cup) and Malteasers (for no other reason than cruelty so far as I can tell…).
So, if you’re craving good old British chocolate while you’re overseas, what can you do?
- Amazon – The Hershey’s deal only covers commercial importation (thank goodness!), so you’re free to import small quantities via Amazon. They’re currently selling 12-bar boxes for just $12.38.
- British Corner Shop – The British Corner Shop sells, well pretty much everything you’d find in a corner shop, including a wide range of British chocolate bars.
- Ebay – It takes a lot for chocolate to spoil in transit, so why not try and grab a bargain on Ebay? There are lots of entrepreneurial souls selling Cadbury’s bars on the auction site.
Baked beans on thick white bread covered in melted cheese and lashings of HP sauce. Mmmmm! To Brits this combination is perfectly acceptable as a main meal of the day. Conversely, to Americans it is something to be feared:
— BuzzFeed Food (@BuzzFeedFood) May 18, 2015
If you’re looking to construct this glorious feast state-side though, where should you shop?
- British Delights via Amazon – British Delights sell just about every conceivable British grocery through their Amazon store, including HP sauce and Heinz baked beans (British style!).
- World Market – World Market sells British style beans in their international foods But be warned they’re a little expensive!
I’m very fortunate here in San Francisco to be living in one of the hubs of the global craft beer movement. The city by the bay is home to dozens of award winning microbreweries and craft beer bars.
However, in most parts of the States anything other than ice-cold, fizzy and weak-tasting lager might be difficult to come by. Unfortunately, in the USA Amazon aren’t permitted to sell alcohol over the net so you need to go via a licensed online liquor store. Don’t worry though; there are a couple of good options for getting old of that perfect British ale.
- Beer Merchants – Beer Merchants let you mix and match your case from hundreds of choices from around the world.
- Total Wine – Total Wine have a decent selection of beers from the British Isles as well as a wide range of European beers.
What foods do you miss most from your native country? How do you get hold of them where you are? Let me know in the comments.