Today’s guest post explores a new chapter in the life of C.C., our Culinarily Challenged contributor in San Francisco, as she and her British Boyfriend (B.F.), eat brunch and C.C. discovers many things about British food customs.
[Background and Character motivation: C.C. has recently found out she will be going to the U.K. (AKA “the B.F.’s magical kingdom”) for a work assignment. She has not told British B.F. this yet and thought she’d wait until brunch….]
Bean Bag Cafe, Day
C.C. and B.F. have just sat down to brunch in the atrium window at Bean Bag Cafe. Outside, young hipsters pass by dressed in garish plaid and smoking cigarettes.
C.C. has an egg sandwich (egg, cheese, bacon, salt and pepper).
B.F. has eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, an English muffin, and watermelon that may or may not be a mere garnish.
B.F. grabs the ketchup bottle, which causes C.C. to look up on her iPhone whether it is ketchup or catsup, and why. (Ketchup vs. catsup via Wikipedia: C.C. is disappointed to discover no exciting connection, merely a spelling difference. However cockney slang for ketchup/catsup is dead horse. And this cornucopia of catsup facts!)
B.F. proceeds to pour ketchup all over everything, including the watermelon.
C.C.: You’re putting ketchup on everything? The eggs? The WATERMELON?!?!?!
C.C.: You put ketchup on everything?! Is that like a British thing?
B.F.: No ….
C.C.: But on eggs? Why on eggs? Ketchup is sweet but also Worcestershire saucey and simply not needed on eggs! And let’s not even talk about the melon. No way!
B.F.: You’re not sophisticated enough to understand the nuance of flavor. You’re too culinarily challenged to understand that different flavors can go together in different combinations and understand that that’s good, yummy, gorgeous.
B.F. butters half of his English muffin.
[Character motivation: C.C. cringes at a Brit criticizing her taste, and moreover his use of the word “yummy.” C.C. detests the baby-talk word “yummy” coming out of an adult’s mouth. The word makes her stomach churn and she wishes it could be reserved exclusively for those under the age of three, and in times of desperation, those who must feed them.]
C.C.: Yeah, but your taste is pretty questionable. You don’t like olives, pickles, tomatoes, and you prefer milk chocolate to dark. And you told me you’ve eaten baby seals.
B.F.: Bollocks—not baby seals, scorpions.
C.C.: Oh, okay then.
She looks on with horror as he spreads ketchup on the other half of the buttered English muffin.
B.F.: I’ve eaten dog.
C.C.: But you want to get a dog! What if you hate the dog, you might eat it? Oh, you better definitely not get one of those Dachshund sausage dogs because the temptation would be too great!
C.C. eyes him suspiciously.
B.F. begins to pile bacon into the half-buttered, half-ketchup’ed English muffin. Then he puts more ketchup on it.
B.F.: Ketchup is the best thing ever, after, of course, bacon chocolate. Actually, I wonder what bacon chocolate with ketchup on would be like?
C.C.: Ew! What are you doing now?
B.F.: Do you know what a bacon buddy is?
C.C.: Uh, butty or buddy? T or D?
B.F.: T! Bu-t-t-y, BUTTY!
C.C.: Oh! Butt-y.
B.F.: Bacon Butty is a staple in England. Toasted bread, butter, crispy bacon, ketchup. And there’s chip buttys. Chip buttys have fries on bread.
C.C.’s eyes widen. [Character Motivation: Deep fried potatoes on buttered and probably ketchup’ed bread? C.C. is afraid, afraid for her waistline and afraid of a country full of people who would eat such starchy things. And she still hasn’t told B.F. that she will be going to the U.K. soon for work.]
B.F. proceeds to put ketchup on the watermelon, spear a piece with his fork, and eat it.
C.C.: OK. Ketchup on eggs–fine; I can almost understand that. But ketchup on fruit! Apples are almost excusable. Cantaloupe? May-be. But strawberries? Watermelon!?! The aesthetic error of putting red sauce on red foods, well, that faux pas alone is indicative of the bad food combining the British are known for.
B.F.: (Sigh.) Yes, the British are not unknown for bad food combining.
C.C. takes the last bite of her egg sandwich.
[Character Motivation: C.C. realizes her egg sandwich is two eggs, some cheese, and a blast of red menace ketchup away from being a bacon butty, so perhaps she is making too big a deal of all this. After all, she has nothing against ketchup. She even likes it! On the right things. And maybe British food, as they say, has improved over the years. She is soon to find out.]
And right on cue, the Britpop song Bittersweet Symphony by the Verve comes on in the background.
C.C.: So guess where I’m going for work?