Florida Trip: Culture Shock and Ice Tea Plea
I’m planning to split my Florida posts in two to keep them from being long: one on food (this one) and one about things that happened that were not food-related. Priorities.
I’m not a big foodie, although I’m better than when I was younger about trying new things (went to Dim Sum yesterday and agreed to eat rice with fish in it. It was okay I guess. Still too fishy for my taste). I’ve travelled a bit, so I expect to eat weird things or else go searching for stuff to mimic what I’m used to, especially when trying to save money. But the weird thing about going to the States is how everything appears to be like home, but when you bite into it is almost always slightly different. Stealth new foods.
1. The Great Yogurt Experiment
I’ve found it difficult to take yogurt seriously ever since Sarah Haskins pointed out the craziness of the ads. I still eat it occasionally, but my Mom and sister are serious yogurt-eaters and have it every day for breakfast. And since my parents had arrived a couple of weeks earlier, my Mom had been searching for the best yogurt. According to her, they all tasted cornstarch-y or weird and according to my Dad, she had basically bought a new type of yogurt every time they went grocery shopping to try to find one she like. For fellow Canadian yogurt fans, she finally seemed pretty happy with Liberté Mediterranean, which apparently is very different from the Liberté Greek, which you should supposedly not get, because it is cornstarch-y. I thought Greece was in the Mediterranean, but my geography skills are pretty weak.
2. Raisin Bran
My breakfast is typically Raisin Bran and I thought it was less sweet, but my Dad thought it was sweeter, so we couldn’t put our finger on exactly what’s going on there, but it is definitely something sweetness-related and don’t think we won’t pin it down eventually America! (I actually usually buy the cheap-o Selection brand at home, so that might be why we find there’s a difference).
3. Things they sell at Walmart
- Pez dispensers with 8 different Lord of the Rings characters for $10
- M&Ms in a ridiculously huge array of sizes from a set of fun packs to basically a pillowcase
- Dulce de Leche Cheerios. Whaaaa? I thought the whole point of Cheerios was that they’re NOT sugary, although I guess we do have Honey Nut flavour. Someone told me they are coming out with peanut butter Cheerios up here. Why? Why ruin the simplicity of the Cheerio? It is perfect as is.
- Souvenir Naples shirt for $10. Not food, but they do sell them at Walmart. Ever since our Cessna pilot in Hawaii recommended stopping at Walmart to pick up souvenirs, my sister and I have checked it out and they often do have a few things in tourist-y areas.
This wasn’t that different. A+ job on the lemon gelato Florida! If you’re not sure what flavour to get at a gelato place, check out the lemon and be surprised by the perfect sweet/tart balance. And it’s so light and refreshing when it’s hot out.
The southern part of the States doesn’t really do hot tea. There are no teapots. Not in the rental place where my parents were house-sitting. Not at Walmart (or even Super-Walmart, according to my parents, which is just acres and acres of what you would think is everything you can imagine), not at Target and not at Publix. All kinds of other trivial things (fancy refills for an automatic handsoap dispenser, for example), but no teapot.
My Mom brought five kinds of tea with her when they drove down, which seemed like overkill when she told me, but now seems incredibly wise.
But all this has really buried the lede for what I wanted to say, what really must be said. Canada: We need to make unsweetened ice tea a thing. Florida does unsweetened ice tea, and at first it takes you by surprise, but once you get used to it and realize you can sweeten it yourself to whatever degree you like, it’s hard to come back to our restrictive system. If you believe in freedom, help me in my campaign to let me sweeten my own ice tea.
Bring it up at your local restaurants, put it on a t-shirt, write your MP. Okay, some of those actions may be a little extreme, but we neeeeed to make this happen. Last summer David’s Tea had a promotion where you buy their re-fillable mug and then all summer you got their iced Tea-of-the-Day for $1. It was fantastic, but it ended with the summer weather.
I also took to making my own ice tea, which I sweetened a little, but it still tasted like tea. Highly recommended: North African Mint, Luscious Watermelon (only available in summer :() and your standard Orange Pekoe from Tetley or whoevs also comes out pretty great.
If people really love the sweet drink most restaurants serve now, we could keep it but rename it. Unsweetened ice tea. Let’s make this happen yesterday. A message from the People for the Selling of Ice Tea that Tastes like Tea.