Splitting Hairs

We mailed out the documents by next-day delivery with confirmation to the UKBA yesterday. Just in time too, it seems, since there is a rumour that Royal Mail (the postal service) will have strikes thursday. What this means for us, I am not sure, but we have exactly 3 days – effective today – left before the deadline.

All we can do now is hope that what we’ve provided will be enough and, well, wait. Neither of which is particularly easy to do. We would be better served, I think, at this point to try not to think about it at all – fixating isn’t going to change the outcome, one way or another.

Everything is out of our hands now; we can’t do anything else at this point.

So keeping busy is the only option. Last night, I took a stab at making Stuffed Aubergine (Eggplant) for dinner. It turned out well, even though it traditionally calls for cheese and bread crumbs, which we have been avoiding due to dietary concerns – it’s perfectly lovely without them.

Tonight, I haven’t decided, but I’ll probably do something like chicken or butterfly-stuffed pork chops. What we will do with the rest of the day, I haven’t decided yet, though my husband has a rare day off.

It’s probably been long enough since I’ve written about “cultural differences that blow my mind ™” that I should touch on them a bit. Most of which revolve around food, unsurprisingly, as that is one thing that all cultures share – they all eat.

Grocery shopping: while I have adjusted to finding things in the supermarkets here, some things still drive me nutz (with a Z because we’re just amazing that way). Chief among them are the plastic bags you use to hold loose fruit and vegetables.

In the states, or in the stores that I used to frequent at least, these bags were tubular in shape and came on a roll. They were a pain in the butt to get to detach from each other, but once you did, you usually had some rough-cut edge that you could use to pull them open with.

Not so much here. These bags look like mini shopping bags, and they come in a box instead of on a roll. They are easy enough to get out of the box (so long as you don’t mind taking more than one), but they are all smooth edges on the top when you do.

This leads me to standing in the middle of the isle, picking at a seam that I can’t pull apart, the bag basically pressed to my nose – because, you know, holding it closer helps so much when trying to grip two thin sheets of plastic and pull them apart… did you get the sarcasm in that? – having what my husband fondly calls a “Special moment,” in between chortles.

Thanks, dear; I love you too. The only way they could possibly make this worse is if they gave out free hand-lotion samples when you got in through the door.

Aside from that, the shopping aspect of things is generally fine. Unless you really can’t get those sheets apart, in which case, you’re left standing in the middle of the isle, flailing the bag around like an idiot.

Once you get the food home, there comes the preparing and eating. I think I’ve mentioned at least once before the subtle differences in Chilli here versus the recipe I grew up with (see: they add a couple of teaspoons of sugar to it to make it sweeter). Of course, there are the names used for food as well (see the note earlier about Eggplant/Aubergine), as well as the definition of what X is.

What is X? Well, in this cace, it’s food, and sometimes the term I use for one thing (Tuna Salad, for example) is not the image that comes up into peoples’ minds. Now, when I think of Tuna Salad, I think of a mass of canned tuna, mixed with mayonnaise, seasonings, onions, garlic, celery and whatever-bits-of-veg that are still in the fridge towards the end of the week. This salad, as I call it, is probably better recognised as a Tuna Sandwich Spread (i.e. the filling). What my husband thinks of as a Tuna Salad is really just a bunch of greens with flaked tuna bitz (with a Z again, you know why) on top. Whoop-tee-do.

Baked potato in my vernacular is a Jacket potato in theirs, as well. Really, I could go on for a long time about this one, but we’ll just leave it at that. I’m still at the point where I have to translate what I call it in my head to the more common term here at times.

Then there is the outright strange. Apparently, strange to my husband once-upon-a-time (before he tried it) was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Traditionally speaking, his family doesn’t mix their peanut butter with their jelly; more mind blowing for me was hearing stories about his younger sister when she was growing up and how she loved eating “Jelly sandwiches.” Just jelly between bread.

As I said: my mind just couldn’t comprehend such a thing, and it blew out of my ears with the knowledge.

“Bacon Butties (bacon between buttered bread),” “Beans on toast (or tomatos on toast),” french fries as part of a “fry up” breakfast, spreading butter onto bread and then putting the peanut butter on also rank fairly high on my Why-would-anyone-do-that list.

I’ve tried most of them, and, generally speaking, the taste good enough. They don’t taste bad, really, I just find myself asking “Why, though?”

Then again, I’ve blown minds of others as well. Apparently keeping lettuce plants growing instead of just harvesting them all at once is crazy talk; and I’ve gotten more than just an eyebrow raise from serving fruit or hot-sauce with an over-easy egg for breakfast (though I can kind of see why; it is a pretty odd combination on that one).

One of these nights, I should make Au Gratin potatoes. No one knew what a stroganoff was until I served it to them one night. For good or ill, my husband tells me that I “always serve something different every night.”

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