It’s hard not to think about what it really means to be British this week, especially waking up to the ‘leave’ result from the EU referendum.
Nationality is one of the things that make up a culture. It’s complicated, personal and means different things to different people. Once you’re an au pair, people you meet in the US are going to be really interested in where you’ve come from and what your life is like back home. American people tend to instantly love Brits, we have a shared history and we are the same but different in so many ways.
When you first arrive in the USA, you’ll be bowled over by NYC, you’ll be in the New Yorker Hotel a few blocks away from Times Square and the Empire State Building, and you’ll get to eat in a diner, maybe walk across Brooklyn Bridge, take a ride in a yellow cab, go on the subway, eat a bagel. You’ll be a funny foreigner, wide-eyed at the buzz of the city.
New York City is always exciting, no matter how many times you go, there’s always something new to discover and see, but at some point, wherever you are in the USA, you won’t feel like a visitor anymore and you’ll probably start to crave what you left behind: a cup of tea, Cadbury’s chocolate and fish and chips. The order may vary, but it’ll happen.
You can pretty much get everything you need on the black market/internet whilst you are away, but if you are in NY or NJ (or anywhere else for that matter) why not pop into NYC where you can find Little Britain in the West Village!
Tea & Sympathy, 108 Greenwich Avenue, New York, NY 10011 www.teaandsympathy.com
First stop Tea and Sympathy. This is a cafe on Greenwich Avenue run by a Brit called Nicky Perry. She’s been in NYC for about 30 years, serving up baked beans, shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash, scones with jam and cream – all the things you didn’t think you’d miss and couldn’t take with you in your suitcase. If you want to buy Angel Delight, Branston pickle or a Terry’s Chocolate Orange this is the place for you. I had a chat with Kate Winslet here once, David and Victoria Beckham used to be frequent visitors too.
There’s a shop selling British stuff next door called Carry On, where you can buy a union jack door mat or toilet seat for your host family if you feel the need to let them know that the Brit has properly arrived!
A Salt & Battery, 112 Greenwich Avenue, New York, NY 10011 www.asaltandbattery.com/home
New York City’s only real chippy is nearby, so follow your nose to A Salt and Battery. You’ll come to know that chips aren’t chips in the USA, they are crisps, and chips are fries. I knew you knew that anyway, and it doesn’t bother you now, but it will bother you at some point. There’ll come a day when only fish and chips will do, so now you know where to go. It’s ok, they only batter sustainable, responsibly caught fish, no cod here. I hear that A Salt & Battery delivers, but only within a short radius, to prevent against sogginess, so too bad if you are in Arizona. Their delivery vehicle is a classic London cab that has been converted to run on used vegetable oil from the kitchen. How cool is that?
Myers of Keswick, 634 Hudson Street, New York, NY www.myersofkeswick.com
Finally, for all your other British grocery needs, try Myers of Keswick a couple of blocks away on Hudson Street between Horatio St and Jane St. Try the sausage rolls, meat pies and Cornish pasties lovingly handcrafted by the second generation of Myers to be in charge. It’s like an old fashioned butcher’s or corner shop with a black and white tiled floor, a curmudgeonly old bloke serving and more teabags and bottles of Vimto than NYC can drink, even when au pairs are in town.
They have a famous lucky black cat called Molly who made international news a few years ago when she got stuck between Myers of Keswick and the next door building. Go say hi, she speaks British English and knows her chips from her chips.
And if a visit to NYC is going to be out of the question for a while, here’s the top ten things you’ll need to pack:
- Tea bags
- Heinz Baked Beans
- Walkers crisps
- Angel Delight
- Bisto Gravy
- Mushy Peas
- Jaffa Cakes
- Everything Cadbury’s