Archive | May, 2015

Choking on the sweet taste of high fructose freedom

21 May

A weird thing is happening. The other day my friend asked me what American foods I miss when I’m in London and I struggled to think of something. My usual answers are sweet gherkin pickles, neon orange cheese, tater tots, Twizzlers and Good ‘N Plenties. But I’ve been back in the U.S. for almost a month now and I have not eaten a single tater tot dipped in neon orange cheese, and worse, never felt the need to. A couple days ago we went to Cici’s Pizza buffet for lunch and then I ate half a box of Good ‘N Plenties and half a bag of Twizzler Bites while at the movies and woke up in the middle of the night feeling sick.

“Your stomach isn’t American anymore!” my friend joked when I texted her. I laughed and made a freedom joke, but couldn’t help but wonder (a la Carrie Bradshaw) — was it true? Can my body no longer handle immense amounts of high fructose corn syrup and bacon ranch pizza? I stocked up on Quest and Pure Protein bars to bring back to London since they’re so much cheaper here, but that may be the only American food I bring back.

I’ve also noticed things taste different here — the butter, cottage cheese, Cadbury eggs. Shouldn’t it be the other way around — American is normal and British food is “weird”? Between my stomach issues, resistance to make small talk with neighbors and fellow grocery shoppers, and the fact that I understood that “cheeky Nandos” post that made the rounds on Tumblr and Buzzfeed, I fear I’m becoming more British than I ever thought. I almost feel like I need to go buy a gun at Walmart and take it to the shooting range that just opened up on Mall Road or they may take my U.S. citizenship away. (I’m kidding, if I die having never shot a gun I think I’ll be OK with that, even if it makes me less ‘Murican.)

You know what else I miss about London? Toilet paper. Yes, this is a real issue I’m choosing to blog about. I cannot find a brand of American toilet paper I like. They’re all either too flimsy or too cushiony. In the UK I like several generic brands as well as Andrex. Andrex is the sister company of Cottonelle — they both advertise with those adorable puppies. Yet Cottonelle here has these weird stupid “clean ripples.” I don’t want ripples, quilts, or flower designs, I want simple TP with the perfect balance of softness and strength. This, basically:

andrex toilet paperI may just have to throw some Andrex in my suitcase next to the Cadbury and tea on my next trip back.

And just in case you get the wrong idea, I am really enjoying my time in the US. If the only things I can complain about are toilet paper and ODing on candy, things are going pretty swell. I’ll close things out with a dog floating in space:

space dog

Running in Kentucky vs. London

11 May

It seems I only ever visit Kentucky when it’s freeze-your-fingers-off or sweat-your-face-off weather. Neither of which is very conducive to running. It’s been certified butt-hot (mid to upper 80s) in Florence, Kentucky, which has forced me to run first thing in the morning instead of my usual 2 to 3 hours after breakfast. I’ve been back in the U.S. almost two weeks now and I’m still riding the jet lag train. If there is such a thing as good jet lag, it’s GMT to EST. I’ve been going to bed early and waking up early, which works well with my parents’ schedules as well as my work and running. The only time it wasn’t so great was this past weekend when I won free tickets to the comedy club that were only valid at the 10:30 pm show. My constant yawning was not a reflection of the comedian’s material.

When I left London, the weather was perfect, the terrain was flat, and I had one of my fastest runs yet:

London fast run
I’m usually happy if I can maintain a 10 min pace or just under, so sub-9 min was amazing for me (though I did pause it at stoplights).

And then I arrived in Kentucky, where there is heat, humidity and hills. This was my run two days after the one above:

Kentucky slow run
Things really went downhill after that first mile (or uphill I should say). Although I compared the elevation maps of my runs in London and Kentucky and couldn’t find much difference… but reading elevation is not my forte.

London:

London run elevationKentucky:

Kentucky run elevationI think I’m going to do a local 5K on Saturday. I really want to get an official sub-30 min 5K time. I’ve done it many times on my London runs, but this time there will be hills and no stoplight pauses. I’m always encouraged by my Facebook friends’ running posts, photos and times. There are even times when I’m lying in bed and most certainly not running that I think maybe I could run a half marathon one day. Maybe that’s something I should put on my bucket list. And then I run the thought by myself again mid-uphill run, sweat dripping from places I didn’t know could sweat, and I think “maybe you should focus on running 3 miles without dying first.” Baby steps.

American vs. British Cadbury Creme Eggs

4 May

One of the reasons I came back to the U.S. now was to see 2 of my favorite local bands in concert. Another was to answer an age-old question: what’s the difference between an American and British Cadbury Creme Egg?

I decided it was my duty to answer this question by having a glass of wine and then stuffing my face with 2 Creme Eggs from 2 different countries — for science.

This year Brits got their collective panties in a bunch because Cadbury changed the recipe of the chocolate covering the Creme Eggs from their signature Dairy Milk chocolate to “standard cocoa mix chocolate.” Unfortunately I do not have an old Dairy Milk Creme Egg to compare.

Though the US and UK products are both labelled “Cadbury Creme Egg,” the British ones are made by Kraft (Kraft acquired Cadbury in 2010) and the American ones are made by Hershey. Their packaging differs in color — the American one is blue, yellow, red and green, while the British one is purple, red and yellow.

US vs UK cadbury eggsWhen I opened them up, they both looked identical. Side note: have Cadbury Eggs gotten smaller over the years, or has my mouth just gotten bigger since I ate them as a kid?

american vs british cadbury eggsNext I cut them open with a knife. It’s a bit warm in Kentucky now (just wait for the blog post where I complain about that!), so both eggs’ fillings seemed softer and runnier than I remember from past eggs. Maybe I should have chilled them pre-experiment (or conducted another experience on chilled eggs. Next time!).

US UK cadbury eggs insideI attempted to do a viscosity test, but the photos did not come out very good. The texture and color of both fillings was quite similar, although the British filling seemed ever so slightly thicker.

First I took a bite of the American egg. It tasted… like a Cadbury creme egg. Because now that I think about, after being in London almost 5 years I don’t believe I’ve ever eaten a legit British Cadbury creme egg. I’ve eaten the mini ones, the McFlurry, and mini creme egg ice cream cones, but never a full-sized egg. I’ve always either been home in Kentucky for Easter or my parents brought me American candy. So it’s no wonder the American one tasted “right.”

I swished my mouth with water and bit into the British egg. And it tasted… different. Like the Creme Egg mini ice cream cones I had devoured a couple weeks ago. To be honest, I could not taste much of a difference between the chocolate on the two, but the filling was definitely different. It’s hard to describe, but the British one tasted more of powdered sugar, while the American one was more high fructose corn syrupy. So let’s compare ingredients and nutrition.

Here is the nutritional info for the American Cadbury Creme Egg from the Hershey website:

US cadbury egg nutritionAnd the British one:

UK cadbury egg nutritionThe first thing that jumped out at me was the calorie difference: 150 for the US vs. 177 for the UK. That’s a pretty big difference for a little egg! The US version also has 20 grams of sugar while the UK’s has 26.5. Perhaps that’s because the UK egg’s first ingredient is sugar. While the American one’s is milk chocolate (side note: how is “chocolate” an ingredient in milk chocolate?), followed shortly by sugar and high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup is banned in the UK, so it’s replaced with glucose syrup and inverted sugar syrup. The coloring agents are also interesting — yellow 6 in America vs. paprika extract in the UK. It’s good to know both contain egg whites, so you can pretend your Cadbury Creme Egg has some vague egg health benefits.

Overall, it was hard to decide which one I prefer. The British one had a more “pure” taste, for lack of a better word, because it was stuffed with so much real sugar. If you’re trying to eat “clean” or “real,” you probably shouldn’t eat any Cadbury Eggs, but if you had to, the British ones would be a safer bet. I think the taste of the UK one wins by a small margin, but the American one gets points just because it tastes so much like childhood Easter memories. Delicious, stomach ache-inducing high fructose corn syrupy memories.

And now I need to wait another month (OK, a week… or at least a day) before I can stomach another Creme Egg.

cadbury creme eggs filling