Overheard: PB in the UK, longing for American food


One of the great things about the Centre for Mathematical Science ‘core’ (what I would otherwise call the ‘caffeteria’ or ‘main lounge-y place’) is the mix of international mathematicians and physicists talking about their fields. Perhaps what’s even better than that, however, is overhearing bits of conversations when these international mathematicians and physicists are talking about things other than their fields… especially those conversations that provide a new perspective from what one would hear from the states.


Ah… what is it called. What is this nut that elephants eat? [pause] They make butter out of it… that Americans are crazy about. Ah, yes, a peanut.

Yes, this other thing that Americans eat–Reeses Pieces. Have you heard of it? It’s peanut butter covered in chocolate. [other person continues ruminating over peanuts] With the chocolate, and the peanut butter, and the suguar, and cholesterol… it’s the most unhealthy thing you can eat. Which is why they’re so good.

I’m sure these two gentlemen would be horrified to discover some of the food they sell at county fairs in the states. I’m sure somewhere in the US there is someone who is selling deep-fried Reeses Pieces from a booth in a county fair.

But speaking of American deep fried culinary treats (a.k.a. investments in future cardiac surgery), I recently had a pang for a Southern Californian delight, Hot Dog on a Stick. For those who are unfamiliar with this — a set which apparently includes East coast and much of the South — Hot Dog on a Stick is a chain of hot dog joints found predominantly in shopping mall food courts. (Though it’s noteable that it started as a booth on the Venice Beach boardwalk.) The hot dogs are dipped in a batter and fried, so that technically they’re a type of corn dog… but the batter is thicker and of a different consistency than what one would normally associate with a corn dog. Anyway, they’re delicious. Partnered with one of the chain’s signature cherry lemonades and perhaps an additional ‘cheese on a stick’ (the same with a row of cheese replacing the hot dog), one has a qunitessential unhealthy shopping mall treat.

Alas, I fear that I will not taste another Hot Dog on a Stick for quite some time.

On a positive note, however, I’ve developed quite a taste for fish and chips. Like a proper Briton, I give the fish a generous splash of malt vinegar. Like a proper American, I give the chips a generous splatter of ketchup.


2 Responses to “Overheard: PB in the UK, longing for American food”

  1. Flip!
    (I just found this blog—and read the 29th September entry… I would have posted this note there, but it seemed a bit anachronistic. Anyway,)
    I am sorry I missed you this year at Trinity. I enjoyed reading your observations—many memories, most of them great. I hadn’t decided what I would be doing this year when we last corresponded, but I’m sure you know I came back to a much healthier stipend in the US (although I probably wouldn’t rate the weather in Princeton that much better than Cambridge).
    I only half-joke when I say that one of the most important things I learned from the Marshall experience was fiscal responsibility. With £10/day after rent in a town where a normal meal costs £5, I learned to keep track of every pence. But maybe I exaggerate how bad it was: even on £10/day I managed to save around £2000 during my year in the UK. (I did get a job at the Trinity Library, however; I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a job.)
    Growing up in Michigan, I couldn’t quite feel the pangs of ‘English weather’ like you must, being spoiled by Californian sun. Learn to appreciate twilight—it isn’t so ephemeral up there: indeed, if you get far enough north in the winter, twilight ‘lasts all day.’ And remember to check how much snow there is in Harvard when it gets ‘cold’ in the winter.
    You should be all settled by now? Are you at Blue Boar? I had F5. Best of luck with your time in the UK. Try to take 8 courses each term (I know you can). Don’t let the barrier between students and faculty prevent you from starting research projects—you’re American and you’re expected to not know ‘your place.’
    Anyway, my day is just starting on this side of the ocean; I should get back to work.

    Jake Bourjaily

  2. 2 robert

    In Scotland the deep fried mars bar is widely available in chip shops; get them to substitute a snickers and you’ll have your deep fried reese’s pieces in all but name. Enjoy.

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