Written by Jenny McWhirter on 24 / 05 / 2016
Gap Year Advice
As a travel addict I believe there is no better way to spend your time than travelling the world and discovering the amazing cultures, histories and traditions of other countries. It offers an opportunity to escape the dreary British weather and meet some amazing people.
However, after a few weeks of local delicacies, no matter how tasty or exotic they are, you begin to miss your home comforts and favourite dishes.
As our Ecuador volunteers are finding it’s food that you will miss the most.
If you're planning to head abroad this summer to start your gap year in style, make sure to stock up on some British favourites before you leave, I guarantee you’ll miss them - they’re just not the same around the world.
The Full English Breakfast is a tradition in many British households and is the perfect cure to a hangover.
Whilst it is a very simple concept to us it is a dish that in my experience confuses many around the world.
You put bacon, toast, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and beans all on one plate and eat it for breakfast…? Well yes, but if you are to be drawn in to a sign claiming to serve your favourite full English, be aware that it is unlikely to taste like home.
The ketchup just won’t be Heinz and will taste distinctly second rate, the bacon won’t be the same, and if they manage to get the beans right I would be very surprised!
A key component to the Full English, I think that this needs its own mention. You just can’t beat the juicy taste of bacon with a good layering of tomato ketchup. The particular cut and cure of bacon abroad is just not the same.
Rather than a beautiful mouthful of bacon sarnie, anywhere other than Britain it’ll be a mouthful of disappointment. You’ll find either too much fat or it will be burnt to a crisp with no substance.
My advice, don’t risk the disappointment and stock up before you head off.
This is straight from the horse’s mouth. Our gals and guys out in Ecuador have shared many of their cravings but this makes it up there on the breakfast list.
Whilst fruit is available abroad, you soon learn that it does not come cheap.
To have great yogurt, raspberries and blueberries will almost break your bank account – especially if you make this regularly. As for the availability of these particular fruits, it’s slim pickings - you’re more likely to find exotic fruits.
But hey, if you can stop by the local market and pick up some local fruit it will be a lot healthier for your bank account and you just might find a new favourite on your adventures.
Don’t panic you can find cheese abroad, it will be in supermarkets, restaurants and street stalls. However, if you venture outside of Europe the chance of getting that yummy scrumptious cheddar we are used to here are slim.
Claudia here in the office holds that no where in the world makes cheddar in the maturity we do.
In the US it’s so processed that it fits in tubes, China is well known for not eating cheese and in India they enjoy paneer.
If you happen to stumble across a yummy cheddar you should be aware that it will most certainly affect your bank balance and so often just isn’t really worth the dent.
Does it get more British?
This is extremely high on the list of food Brits miss, with many a tear shed in the supermarket as you wander the tea section and find nothing that would meet your British high standards and even more tears when you’ve selected your average tea and you head to the biscuit section only to find there are no rich tea biscuits, digestives or other appropriate ‘dunking’ styles.
My top tip for solving the craving – pack some tea bags and a pack of dunking biscuits in your rucksack. Then in time of need you’ll be covered, but you can also use it to buy friends when you’re travelling.
Offer a British traveller proper tea and biscuits and you’ll be BFFs from the off.
Another one that our Ecuador volunteers are really missing at the moment.
Just like the Full English, this concept isn’t widely known around the world and clotted cream is definitely not as good abroad than in a cosy tea shop with a local chatty couple who will give you a generous helping with your scone.
While you’re missing your favourite tea-time snacks this next one is one of the most-missed by travellers…
These gorgeous, melt-in-your-mouth tea treats are top of the list on the expat sales list.
We all have great memories of the times we’ve had crumpets. My personal favourite is toasting them on the fire and smothering them in butter.
But trust me, it’s difficult to recreate this tea-time treat when you’re backpacking. Especially if you opt for a country that has no idea what you mean by a crumpet – even with Google Translate you’ll be received with a great blank stare.
From tea time specialities to those all-filling dinners that will have you craving a hearty home comfort.
This may seem a little strange, surely exploring India would open you up to your favourite chicken Korma or Jalfrezi, an amazing onion bhaji and everything you’re used to.
Well if you’ve chosen to explore India you will probably eat some of the best curries out there.
However, do not expect a British takeaway feel, same with other Indian takeaways that aren’t in England. The beautiful recipes that produce the tasty takeaways we’ve come to love are actually tailored to our taste.
My tip is to understand you won’t get your favourite takeaway but embrace the new flavours and explore what curries taste like all over the world – you may just find a new favourite.
Good old Fish and Chips is what we Brits are famous for.
Across the country there is no shortage of newspaper-wrapped battered fish and salt-covered chips. Whilst this is the source of ridicule for many travellers it is also sorely missed.
I made the mistake in New Zealand of getting extremely excited as the bus driver announced that Fish and Chips were the order of the day after our exploration of the tip of the North Island. He raved all day about this world famous chippy. The disappointment from me and my fellow British travellers as we tucked in, only to find the batter was not proper batter, the chips were soggy and quite frankly the worst chippy in England was better than what we’d just endured.
Don’t make the same mistake, I advise you to live like a local and explore the delicacies rather than try and recreate those beloved dishes from home – no one can quite do it justice.
This is one of Michaela’s biggest food cravings when she heads off abroad. Having recently returned from visiting our groups in Cuba, she loved the country but couldn’t quite shun the craving for a good old pint accompanied with some proper mash.
Creamy mashed potato is one of Britain’s strengths, it’s filling, comforting and when washed down with a pint you know that you are truly in a great British pub.
Michaela’s top tip: Enjoy a good pint and mash before and after a trip, but whilst away make sure to enjoy a local tipple.
Now this is quite specific, if you are in the haters camp then obviously this will be the last thing you’ll miss. However, if you are an avid lover of Marmite then it will be a lot harder.
It’s not good news, abroad there is just no substitute for toast smothered with Marmite.
In Australia, the locals might try to tempt you with their “Vegemite” but believe me this is by no means a Down Under version of our beloved Marmite – instead it tastes similar to tar on toast.
From a loved or hated food to one that is loved right across the Kingdom…
There’s no beating my mum’s roast dinner on a Sunday, and if mum isn’t around then I can enjoy a cosy pub-feel with an adequate roast. However, head abroad and the concept is just not understood.
I think everyone can agree that whether you have lamb, pork, beef or a vegetarian option it is the trimmings that really distinguish a roast. The potatoes fluffy on the inside but crisp on the outside. The slightly-over-done vegetables and of course no roast would be complete without a good helping of Bisto gravy lavishly poured over your Yorkshire.
Unfortunately, this particular delicacy is one that will be high on the missed list as you just can’t find the same standard anywhere else.
We now leave the tasty dinner options and finish with desserts...
It’s gooey, fudgey, deliciousness with gallons of toffee sauce most likely to see you feeding your self in to a heart attack is a much loved dessert.
However, according to Travelettes, in all her travelling and living abroad it is just one of those dishes that if served abroad is not the same and just doesn’t quite hit the spot.
It’s time to head down to that local pub and treat yourself as part of your gap year preparations, who knows when you’ll get to tuck into one of these again.
Yes you read that right, I’m sorry but this should be on every travellers' pack list. Dairy Milk, Crème Eggs, Chocolate Fingers and much loved Fruit and Nut bar often isn’t the same abroad.
In America their chocolate is so sweet you can barely taste chocolate and it has somewhat of a chalky texture. Other countries are not renowned for their chocolate eating and therefore you will find very little.
Whilst there is nothing like a Dairy Milk bar, pack a few in the rucksack but then branch out and try the countries own. Ecuador does some of the best dark chocolate I have ever eaten.
Now last but probably most missed will be your favourite item. This may have already been mentioned or you may have a favourite cereal, drink or protein shake that you just can’t live without.
Be prepared to shed some tears in your time of need, but know that there will be lots of other Brits out there feeling your pain. If you’ve got space tuck a few essentials in your pack and most certainly stock up on your favourites before you leave.
And always keep in mind it will taste that much better when you haven’t had it and then you bite into your favourite dish – the bitter sweet of returning home from a round-the-world adventure.
Whilst I have provided you with a list of all the great British dishes you are guaranteed to miss on your travels, do not despair. Instead you’re headed out on an adventure to sample all the great food across the world that will blow some of your favourites out of the window.
Get out there and try all you can. Have you found an amazing dish that manage to top your charts of favourite food? Maybe you have a handy tip for food items when you’re away that help lull those cravings. We’d love to hear about it and so would your fellow travellers, share them in the comments below.
on 24 / 05 / 2016