The things that have challenged me in my new role as homemaker in America haven't been the things I expected - but there have been some challenges!
Cooking is troublesome because it is hard to get the ingredients you need!
There are the obvious language barriers, the first being pronunciation:
You'll be surprised how off putting it is for both sides- I requested 'no tomato' on my subway sub. Three servers were laughing so much the manager had to finish my order. On the flip side, Hubby and I burst into fits of giggles whenever there is a mention of ERBS!
The second is a different name for something, for example, cilantro - How was I supposed to know it was coriander?!
Then there is the absence of certain ingredients from the supermarkets. I was invited to a dinner party and offered to make desert. I thought I would wow them with Delia Smith's Tiramisu. It should have been easy. It was exhausting!
Boudoir Biscuits - Boudoir what??!! Find them on the shelves of any Morrison's but nowhere to be found in North Carolina. I settled for sponge cake and hoped it would work.
Strong espresso coffee - the easy little sachets of instant espresso (very good before you sneer) don't exist - I had to drive to Starbucks and get a double espresso and drive home looking like a real American (never without a coffee cup... really... even at the school bus stop!)
Rum! Buy it from the liquor store - they give it to you wrapped in brown paper like a dirty secret. I kept insisting 'It is for a recipe'. I left clutching my brown paper bag hoping the prohibition mob or abstinence party were not picketing the exit! I felt certain there were a group of people praying for me outside but they may have just been drunk!
Mascarpone cheese. There, if you are willing to pay the price. $6 for a little biddy tub of it! Why?!
Egg whites, egg yolks...RAW! OK - organic free range eggs are not quite so popular here but you can get them (at a price). No problem with the eggs until I watched Gordon Ramsey. Sorry! Chef Ramsey, as he likes to be called in these parts. He really is very popular! A wannabe served a raw egg. 'F**K. NOOooooooooooo! Are you trying to Kill them?' Ranted Chef Ramsey. I then realised that America might not have got over the panic we experienced in the '80's from Edwina Currie! Salmonella death eggs! By this time I had made the Tiramisu. At the dinner party we had to explain what we had brought with us. I introduced my dessert with the health warning that it contained raw eggs (pronounced 'roar' if you are English, sort of rhyming with 'sow' if you are American so the moment was painfully prolonged while they translated what I had said). The hostess politely put it in the fridge and it didn't reappear. I'm sure she didn't want to poison her guests. Later- I decided to get it out anyway and have some as it really is very good! You know what, Chef Ramsey? - everyone eat it and no one died!
This weekend it is my turn to host Soup night - a neighborly (check the spelling!!!) get together involving soup! I wanted to do Roast Pumpkin Soup (Delia again!). Pumpkins in America you say - no problem! It will soon be thanksgiving with pumpkin pies galore! Well - EVERY shop cleared their pumpkins on 1st November! Real pumpkins are for Halloween decorations. Pumpkin Pie is made from canned pureed pumpkin! but you know what - I cant roast a can! I wonder how I will get on finding the ingredients for Minestrone instead. Pancetta anyone???