Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cereal Wars

It's a slippery slope.

Writing a blog about being a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker turned Londonista and not falling into the all-too-easy trap of trying to compare and contrast everything.

Is New York better? Is London better?

Even friends and acquaintances fall down the rabbit hole. "Don't you miss New York?" "Isn't London so much cleaner?" "Isn't it hard to find late-night takeout over there?"

Yes. Yes. And yes.

But there's so much more to talk about...and I'm a firm believer that simple questions can attract simple answers. Two world-class cities like London and New York, can't be reduced to side-by-side pros and cons lists.

Well, except when it comes to today's meditation.

Breakfast cereal.

That's right. Uh-huh. I'm gonna write (and you're about to read) about my love affair with Rice Krispies, Cocoa Puffs, and Cap'n Crunch. And why I'm desperate for my old favorites in a land that eschews these breakfast (...lunch and dinner) staples.

It may not be as highbrow as fellow Stephen Fry lovers might like, but if you've ever faced an empty cupboard at 10:30 at night with nothing but a bowl, a spoon and 8 oz of semi-skimmed milk to see you through til morning, you'll know it definitely deserves a pass.

So, um, what happened here? And by here, I mean in the UK. I've been to the largest grocers/retailers...Sainsbury's, Tesco, M&S, Waitrose, Asda...and it's like wandering the aisles in the land that cereal forgot.

Oh, don't get me wrong. There's "cereal" on the shelves all right...muesli, porridge (e.g., oatmeal), unsweetened corn flakes...but there's no CEREAL.

Cereal. You know the stuff that turns your milk pink, your tongue blue and your insides...well, let's not think about that right now. I'm talking kids cereal, sugary cereal, fun cereal. Cereal that comes with toys, with clusters, with a surgeon general 's warning.

I've concluded. It's far too healthy here.

And I'm not ashamed to say, I DO NOT like it. I do not like it one bit! It's enough to make a single expat gal cry out, "Darn it all; I want me Lucky Charms!"

Sure there's "Honey O's" and "Honey Balls" and "Choco Puffs" but none of the over-the-top cereal creativity I've come to love back in the US. Or to imagine inventing corn flakes covered with honey and peanuts, combined with chocolate nougat pecan clusters and star-shaped multi-colored marshmallow bits. The kind of creativity that can make a grown woman look forward to that rummage in the cupboard at 10:30 at night.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating that we feed this food to ACTUAL children. Kiddies should have muesli...and porridge...and unsweetened corn flakes. As well as fresh fruit, lean proteins and lots of bright-colored veg.

I'm just saying that we need a UK food retail industry that learns to cater to the adults that these well-fed kids grow up to be. Time-starved, 30-minute (or less) recipe dependent, and yes, every once in a while, desperate for a late night sugar fix...adults.

Londoners like (you and) me!

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