Story by Augustus Krider Contributor
A medieval city and more, Coventry is over a thousand years old. The chronicled event in Coventry took place in 1016. One thousand years ago. It was around this time that Lady Godiva made herself famous by riding naked through the city streets, saving the town from her husband’s aggressive taxation. Though she is now famous for her line of chocolates, she was also an original badass for being one of the few Anglo-Saxons and only woman to hold her lands through the Norman Conquest. But history remembers her nudity.
Godiva’s home would be at the center of another historical event when the English Civil War broke out in the 17th century. When it was all over, Coventry had backed the wrong side. Leaving restored Monarch Charles II rather peeved with the city, so he ordered their ancient walls destroyed, ending the town’s tenure as a place of military importance, or so it was thought.
The industrial age treated Coventry rather well until the Second World War when the city began building for the English Army and the RAF. In November of 1940 an air raid destroyed much of the city’s historical buildings, homes, and infrastructure. Only to be rebuilt after the war, with the city adding the Phoenix to their seal, representing the people rising out of the ashes to resume their life.
All of this happened so that one day, two bratty students from Long Beach, California could come for a few months and complain about the food.
“Do you have anything that isn’t undercooked bacon or a potato?” Megan asked.
“Would you like beer then?” said the waiter.
“No, but bring over some of your cheapest Gin please,” I replied.
This is a regular occurrence, with many other cultural gaffes seeming to take place in restaurants. Such as when we ordered water and, I swear this isn’t a joke or stereotype, they brought us tea. Or when I, after about twenty minutes of no service, indignantly asked a bus person why we weren’t being served and was informed that you order at the bar, as it is with most eateries. My bad.
Though our cultures are so similar, our food is phenomenally different. History has it that after our “Amerexit” from the British Empire, and after the Boston Tea party, we adopted soda as our national beverage. This is known to be true, but we also vastly changed our food tastes.
For example, it is incredibly difficult to buy yellow cheese. Cheese in England is white. Why would it be yellow? Also what do you see when you buy cheese in America? Is it large print SHARP CHEDDAR? Well guess what I keep having to buy, SMOOTH AND MILD BRITISH CHEDDAR. And if you want to throw some American cheese on your grilled cheese, it cannot be done—and they’re called toasties.
I would argue that chocolate might be better in England but I don’t want to betray my country over candy.
Frosted Flakes are just called Frosties.
And would you picture Cool Ranch Doritos for a moment? I’m imagining you see those beautiful red and green dots that I once believed held their entire delicious flavor? Well in England the chips don’t have any dots, and yet they taste the same. The dots don’t actually do anything. Furthermore, Cool Ranch Doritos are actually called Cool Original Doritos, because ranch actually isn’t that chic here.
I am hungry all the time because English portion sizes are kids meal equivalent in US culture. Megan is just plain on a hunger strike because the food doesn’t please her at all. Her only saving grace is that Italian Food is the same everywhere, America, England, France, but not Italy interestingly enough.
Mexican food is out of the question. I miss it so much, but we have seen other Latin American countries advertised in restaurant form. Usually they just appear to be meat pies rebranded as empanadas. But I will admit that I have yet to give these restaurants a fair shake. I was really just looking for a Chipotle or a Taco Bell. I won’t pretend to have any good cultural knowledge.
KFC, McDonald’s, and Subway are all tucked away in odd corners, leering at me as if they followed me here. They whisper, “Come here, fatty. We know how American men like to eat.” I broke down and tried all three. Not in one sitting, just two. Domestic KFC is better.
The food is different, how odd our cultures both are. So why would anyone who loves to eat, or eats to live go abroad?
Because I can drink whenever I want and I’m nineteen. Which has an interesting effect on drinking culture. In my time here I haven’t observed anyone seek praise for drinking X amount of shots, everyone just enjoyed being smashed. I haven’t heard the spread of damaging false science about drinking, like somehow coffee makes people sober faster.
Lastly connected to the eating note, and maybe the drinking note—American males listen up. Statistically we can expect to live to 76 years old. I’m sorry to tell you, I’m sure that it’s less than you expected. Our European counterparts can expect to outlive us by about 4 years. Which is why I go around bars really drunk shaking hands with everyone. Trying to spread whatever it is I got. Even up the score.
So the moral of this story is eat less, drink more? Also don’t go to war with your neighbors, but do run naked in the streets to be famous.
To see cool pictures of Europe, Megan, and selfies of me trying my best, follow @guskrider on twitter.