A taste of England – for a time.

When I first came to the US, I didn’t consider that it would eventually become my home. After I took up residence here, I don’t think I ever quite believed it would be permanent. Even after I married, I think I assumed that sooner or later we’d move back to the UK. The more I realize that in reality I’m now here permanently, the more I miss the rest of my family, and understand that I’ve never come to terms with being 5,000 miles from them.

That’s not what this entry is about, though. Apart from family and intangibles, like the Yorkshire countryside, or the sea being within driving distance, there isn’t much that I regret not having.

What I do miss are some specific food items. Real bacon, not the thin, streaky, fatty stuff I can get in the grocery store, good as some of it is. Chocolate. Fish and chips. And most of all, milk.

I’m from Hull, former fishing port, and still home to the largest concentration of fish and chip shops (with generally good fish). I think it’s probably harder for a Hull native to be deprived of fish and chips than most other Brits. But I’ve found that when I travel to England I can eat fish and chips a few times to satisfy the craving, and then ignore it for the rest of the vacation.

I don’t know why American chocolate is so bitter and stale-tasting compared to British chocolate, but it is. It’s the added paraffin wax or lack of cocoa butter or something. Even the same candy here is formulated differently, and it’s such a disappointment that I find it easy to avoid. A regular bar of Cadbury’s beats even chocolates from expensive shops here, and Galaxy is completely out of the league of US chocolate – with the one exception I’ve found of the Newman’s Own brand, which is quite delicious and not bitter, dark or milk. The late Paul Newman makes good chocolate…

Anyway, Kroger has started carrying Galaxy. Only small bars and Minstrels (chocolate-candy covered chocolates, like oversized M&Ms with the bitterness removed), but a few small bars is still cheaper than the postage for my mother to send me a large bar. So I no longer need to gripe about chocolates.

Milk, though. That has been a problem since I first came here, 29 years ago. Some milk is better than others, but the best I can find tastes bland compared to regular cheap grocery milk on the other side of the pond. And that isn’t something my mother can send.

And then a few months back, I was visiting Whole Foods in Plano, and I found milk from “Remember When Dairy.” I bought it by accident, in fact. Organic milk was very expensive, and the price of this milk was about half (but it turned out I was looking at the wrong price; it’s about the same as certified organic). Then, when I got it home I noticed it said “shake well,” and realized it was non-homogenized milk. I’ve always prefered non-homogenized; even when you shake it up, it’s creamier. Unfortunately, even in the UK it’s hard to find now.

So I poured a glass and tried it – and it was every bit as good as the milk I grew up with. Better, even – the milk is from a Jersey herd. It’s organic, though not yet certified, so it can’t have the label, but it is. And much better than Whole Foods’s other organic products. The 2% milk is richer than any whole milk I’ve tried elsewhere.

As expensive as it was, and as awkward as it was to get to the Plano store, I made the trip several times. Life was good.

And then, a month or so after I discovered the milk, it started to vanish. I could get a couple of half-gallons occasionally, and then nothing at all.

I’ve tried to find out what has happened, and where I can still get the milk. The Lakewood Whole Foods is supposed to carry it, but when I tried to get some there was one half-gallon of 2%. A recent Morning News said that Central Market carried it, but I’ve never seen any, and the CM manager told me they’ve been trying to carry it, but their sales volume would be too low.

Now I have email from the Whole Foods store that may have more of the story. Apparently the dairy is currently out of business while they move from Texas to New Mexico, and they expect to resume shipments in 45 days. How believable that is, I don’t know. This was probably a very bad time to start a dairy, but if they’re really relocating rather than failing, and if they really plan to distribute the same products back to the DFW area, it doesn’t bother me whether or not they’re in Texas.

I’m hopeful. I’ll know in a couple of months whether to cry over spilt milk.

Now, if I could just find real bacon…

Edit: I forgot the main requirement of a Brit living in the US – a supply of decent tea. Fortunately that has never been very hard. I used to have to go to the Indian grocery for Typhoo or PG Tips. More recently, Central Market started carrying Yorkshire Tea (which is the best of all) and Kroger has PG Tips tea bags.

Central Market consolidated their tea section and eliminated Yorkshire Tea, and I was disappointed – until I discovered that Amazon.com carries it in both loose leaf and tea bag form. (Even Yorkshire Gold and Yorkshire Gold tea bags, though I don’t personally like that as much as plain old Yorkshire Tea.)

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