English Crisps


I’ve always eaten mostly Italian cuisine, even back in the UK. Usually I could be found stirring a bubbling pot of pasta sauce in my English kitchen: Actually, friends and neighbours commented on the fact that when I left they’d have to go back to shop bought sauces. So I didn’t expect to join the legion of Brits craving English products, but sadly a month or so ago I joined them, and all for a couple of packets of prawn cocktail crisps.

In the past I’ve always despaired of those whingeing Brits bemoaning their withdrawal symptoms brought on by Cheddar deprivation or earlier Marmite misuse. I’ve always wondered why you’d move to another country, with its own food culture and want to impose your previous one upon it. Okay if sausage, chips and peas makes you happy, you can get tinned peas, potatoes, oil and sausages here in Italy, (The sausage will have a higher meat content, so may not live up to the 80% rusk content you’d previously been accustomed to.) But people go mad if someone spots an English product on a supermarket shelf; in fact whole threads entitled ‘Lidl in Pescara has porridge oats’, have developed on open forums for the area.

I came over with a supply of things I knew would be tricky to find, Asian spices, HP sauce and horseradish. I’ve used the spices once to make a curry, horse radish jar has been opened and a serving removed and it languishes at the rear of the fridge, with five other jars in the cupboard. We’ve managed to get through our stash of HP sauce, and have just one bottle left, as there’s nothing finer in the morning than a dollop of the brown stuff on a fried egg and some pancetta. Call it an Anglo-Italian fusion breakfast.

So why or more importantly, how did I succumb to this irrational need to have something British. Well I was enjoying a glass of wine one evening as Life Without Buildings, by Japan played on the iPod and the conversation turned to crisps. It went something like this:

OH: These crisps are a bit bland

ME: Yes they are, they need more salt.

OH: Do they do flavoured crisps here, I’ve only seen salted.

ME: They do in some of the larger supermarkets.

OH: Salt and Vinegar would be nice.

ME: When I say flavoured I mean either chilli, paprika or something resembling cheese. There’s no cheese and onion or roast chicken; although I did see lime and chilli once.

OH: You always liked prawn cocktail didn’t you?

ME: Yes.

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And that was the catalyst, I spent the remainder of the evening thinking about prawn cocktail crisps, I remembered when the lovely people at Seabrook Crisps sent me a complimentary box of them following a minor complaint. And so as the evening progressed and i drank more wine and tried to concentrate on a film we’d dropped into the DVD player, the idea of having prawn cocktail crisps floated around inside my sub consciousness.

Now this was several weeks back, and I had mentioned this to my friend, Mark who was travelling over to the UK for a wedding. Upon his return, Mark presented me with a couple of pink packs of the prawn flavoured potato crisps. Needless to say one bag was consumed with gusto within minutes of my getting home with them, but I vowed to save the other packet, that was until today. The iPod was shuffling and, David Sylvian, previously of the band, Japan started to sing, Blackwater. His voice triggered the memory, and I remembered the bag of crisps tucked away for a special occasion, so deeming the fact that it was sunny to be ‘a special occasion’ I opened them and devoured them with relish.

The only problem is now I need someone to bring me some more, or trawl through the Abruzzo forums looking for a thread entitled, ‘Lidl’s got prawn cocktail crisps’ and then like a brain-starved zombie I can elbow the other scrambling Brits out of the way as I head for the pink-coloured packets of loveliness.

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One thought on “English Crisps

  1. While I have happily embraced the food of my new homeland, France, there are just times when I need a little taste of something from back home. Not everyday, but once every couple of months and then I’m good.

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