My boyfriend likes to tell people he’s in a masochistic relationship. And no, it’s not a ‘whips-and-chains’ thing. No, if you really want to know what makes a 25-year-old British man cry, the shortest answer is orange roll casserole. Now, presumably, everyone reading this has previously lead innocent and very British lives unscathed by ‘The Casserole’, so before scrolling down to the attached image below, I am morally and legally obliged to inform you that this image is not safe for work or children, and may cause deeply traumatic feelings in British viewers. …Okay, are you ready?
See, I’m American, and this is a typical breakfast in my home. Yes, it’s from a can. Yes, apparently canned dough is a radical concept to my British friends, and yes, it’s probably full of the most heinous food dyes and preservatives known to man. The worst bit, perhaps, is that all of those things are integral to describing American food culture. However, for me, it tastes like home. In fact, it’s one of the very first things I ask my mother to make when I’m jet-lagged, homesick and want a taste of home. Same goes for these, which I feel I must include both out of genuine love and appreciation, and also so my mother knows that I know her cooking repertoire extends to more than just canned casseroles.As experience has taught me that these are not immediately identifiable to British people as pigs in blankets, I feel the need to explicitly clarify what they are. No, they are not, as my boyfriend so cleverly remarked, ‘pigs in a duvet’. Nor — because his wit is endless when it comes to American food — are they ‘bastardised sausage rolls.’ (For those of you who still have questions, they’re comprised of cocktail sausages wrapped in crescent roll dough). Fake pigs in blankets they may be to my dear English friends, but they hold a special place in my heart. They’ve been served at every birthday party I’ve ever had for as long as I can remember. They’re a staple at Christmas parties and mine and my mother’s comfort food. They’re a great example of how something can be completely ridiculous to one person or to an entire culture — I’m looking at you people and your beans on toast — but hold an emotional power that isn’t based on anything culinary at all.
Food is an intensely emotional experience and its effect on us incorporates so many of our senses. It’s about who made the food, who we ate it with, and where we were when we ate it. It’s about the feelings that are triggered when you come down the stairs and smell it cooking. It’s about the inside jokes you share with your mum in the kitchen and how much that food has been laughed over, cried over, and held at the centre of your fondest memories. Food has the power to unite us. Even if some recipes give certain people heart attacks (sorry Rory!), the feelings they invoke are universally relatable. And in my case, they serve as an awesome reminder that the biggest UK/US cultural divide isn’t accents or politics… it’s the sense of British culinary superiority that causes my boyfriend to threaten to delete me from his life when I say my pigs in blankets are valid.