Two Brits and two pots of tea.

It's OK. It's all going to be OK. I've found a place that sells Lemon Barley Water. (What is she on about?). Not just that, they also have dried marrowfat peas (come again?) and joy of joys, Atora suet (eh?) The wonders of sharing a cup of tea (what else) with another Brit in a Montreal cafe is that we can, rather sadly, swap the names of places where you can buy  British foodstuffs. I know you're thinking Britain isn't exactly the gastronomic capital of the world but
Montrealers, imagine living somewhere without Imperial Cheese, Kraft dinner or a St Viateur bagel and you will appreciate what it is like to go two and a half years without a decent glass of lemon squash. I've had to drink water for goodness sake. I'm not sure that's healthy. Squash doesn't exist in this country. In my old Tesco's back in Blighty there were shelves and shelves of this stuff - liquid concentrate to make fruity drinks (I can't believe I'm having to explain this).
Tea made with boiling water.

Anyway, first chance I get I'm heading to the Bramble House store in Pointe-Claire to stock up on British delights, wearing dark glasses and a large hat because people who move abroad and search out their own cuisine are really sad. I love Montreal restaurants by the way.
While we British girls were on the subject of food (the eternal search for a bag of caster sugar for instance) can I just say a word on the pot-luck dinner. Yes it's all really democratic and Canadian and everything but sometimes I would like to go out for dinner without having to cook first. Is that really so bad? In Britain the host or hostess does the cooking and try as I might I find it very difficult to tell friends when they ask what to bring to say , oh yes could you just spend a few hours in the kitchen and rustle up a pudding?
The tea we were served today was great by the way and as you know, I'm a stickler on this point , but yes the bag was in the hot water when it arrived at the table (Canadians, you are learning. You have pleased me greatly with your progress).


  1. I feel for you. Four and a half years and the hunt for decent orange squash that my children will actually drink is still on here in Scotland. I am still suprised at the scarcity of a fair variety of bath soap, instant oats (yes, you actually just add hot water - not microwave for 3 mins - that is NOT instant), and rusks. Is it so bad to just want a few rusks with your coffee in the morning?
    As for being invited for dinner - it's such a stressful affair, that I end up taking flowers, wine, snacks and dessert for fear that I will be considered tight fisted if I just bring myself. I still don't know how all this works over here!

  2. I must ask you for dinner sometime. You sound like a good guest. Hilarious. You did lose me a bit with rusks though. To a Brit a rusk is something you gave a baby to suck on back in the 60s ..I was a baby. It's fascinating to me how different cultures can develop and not have marmite or golden syrup as a basis of existence. We need to set up some sort of squash import-export business, clearly.

  3. What do you think of the sausages here? My poor parents nearly re-packed their bags and moved back to England the first time they had Canadian "sausages." (Yes, they quite clearly said the word in quotation marks — they didn't know how to do "air quotes" back then, but their sneers managed to convey their disdain quite nicely.)

  4. Maria
    Funny you should say that but the mass produced ones are definitely "different" here. I know exactly what your parents were going through. I'm a fan of sausages made by the butcher myself though I draw the line at a broccoli and cheddar sausage which my husband recently bought. Cheese was never meant to be in a sausage.

  5. Hey Anne
    Don't forget the Heinz baked beans on your shopping list for Bramble house! Pure comfort food...

  6. Emma
    I am so excited about eating Heinz Beans again it is ridiculous. The Quebec version , feves au lard, have pork fat and maple syrup in them and I'm afraid just don't do it for me. I do love most Quebec meaty specialities however - creton (pork pate), tortiere (meat pie) and oreilles des crisse (deep fried pork rind) are all delicious - just to mention a few.
    But for my first plate of Heinz Beans in two years I am going to eat them the best way I know - on a slice of buttered toast. Looking forward to their familiar fruitiness. Like a fine wine.

  7. Atora suet? Marrowfat peas? .... Anne, you NEVER ate those foods ieven when you lived in England, unless your mam fed you them. So why now?

    Is this what happens when you emigrate, you start craving things you never craved before? You'll be craving Findus crispy pancakes and Pot Noodles next.

    Now sausages are a different matter altogether. Good butcher's sausage made with 90% meat, with a hint of herb, which don't ooze loads of greasy fat or even worse that white frothy salt when you cook them because they've been injected with pre-packaged saline to bulk out the weight.

    That's the sort of thing I can understand missing. But I don't miss it, because I live in the UK, with a quality butcher shop at the end of the street.

    Mmmm, all this talk of sausages is making me peckish. I'm off for 6 links of the finest Lincolnshire pork bangers right now.

    Jane. Glasgow

  8. Dear Jane
    Yes something strange happens to your tastebuds when you emigrate and you crave the foods of your childhood. Suet puddings, marrowfat peas, pork pies, scotch pies, black pudding, bring it on. Not to mention toad in the hole - which I only made for the first time since moving to Canada. Now it is my signature dish for goodness sake! Canucks love it.
    I draw the line at Findus crispy pancakes but I could go a Pot Noodle in all honesty.
    PS we have butchers in Canada.

  9. Hi Anne !

    Although I had to Google most of the ingredients that you mentioned now I wonder what it tastes like.

  10. Very funny post! I'm so glad you shared this little West Island gem, I am going to go for sure. I miss a bunch of UK culinary treats...

    And the whole concept of putlock dinners is a great idea in theory, but in practice, you just never know what to bring and how many portions. Instead I am being sort of a penny-picker and I collect money instead (after I cooked all afternoon and spent $100 on dinner).

  11. Dear Olga and Eurotrip TIps
    I should be on commission for this store selling British classics. Maybe it is time to explain the marrowfat pea. Every Christmas my mother used to make what I called "home-made peas". These are dried marrowfat peas. Perhaps you have never experienced the delights of this plump tasty pea - it's nothing like a garden pea. Marrowfat peas are allowed to dry in the fields before they are harvested. My mum used to soak them overnight then cook them next day. Suffice to say the bowl of peas was my favourite bit of the Christmas dinner. These are life-changing peas. Once tasted, never forgotten. They are a little bit of England but strangely they were introduced to Britain from Japan.

  12. Hey, really great blog post… I've enjoyed reading through your blog because of the great style and energy.

    I actually work for the CheapOair travel blog. If you're interested, we would love to have you on as a guest blogger. Please send me an e-mail: gchristodoulou(at)cheapoair(dot)com, and I can give you more information. Looking forward to hearing from you.

  13. Btw - my gran used to drink cane and lemon barley. I took a swig once - at the age of 10 I already thought drink tasted good! Must have been the lemon barley! Good stuff that!

  14. Nicola
    This is good information. Might have to try that one. For me lemon barley is the taste of Wimbledon - I think they used to sponsor it or something. When I asked my friend what was so good about this British food store and she said they sell squash, I could have kissed her. Canadians would have thought she meant vegetables.


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