Happy Thanksgiving! 

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Last year I celebrated my first Thanksgiving in the USA but it was all a blur as I had just arrived in the country 2 weeks previous, I was meeting my future parents in law and I was still only settling in to life here. So this year I will have the full experience and get to enjoy it rather than have it pass me by. 

But as usual I have to ask the question, What is Thanksgiving? Well a quick Google search comes up with plenty of answers and the easiest one is from History.com ‘In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.’ 

So today we celebrate a autumn harvest and be thankful for everything we have. Of course Thanksgiving has evolved over the centuries and like Christmas it can be an excuse to eat and drink to much and spend lots of money. But today we are going to be surrounded by friends and the parents in law have joined us again this year, and yes we will have a lovely huge dinner but it’s the fact that we will have friends and family with us that makes today special. 

Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in Ireland but with the close connections between the 2 countries and with the world becoming smaller a lot of Irish people will wish the American friends a Happy Thanksgiving today, just like Americans will wish their Irish friends a Happy St Patrick’s Day in March. 

Today actually began last night with early preparations, getting plates ready, cutlery sorted and some pre cutting of vegetables for dinner. To be able to experience the whole Thanksgiving with Leanne as my wife, her parents and friends is something very special. 

Finally I would like to wish my whole American family, my wife Leanne, my parents in law, Robert and Terri, my sister in law and her husband, Melissa and Mickey a lovely Thanksgiving. I will extend that with to everyone here in the USA who I have encountered since my arrival last year and especially those that have become friends and have showed lovely kindness in welcoming me into the group. And last but not least Happy Thanksgiving to all the people I have met, worked with or just socialized with, not only in the last year, but over all the years I have been coming to the USA. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone 


 

Biscuits, cookies, scones, crisps and chips

Biscuits, cookies, scones, crisps and chips

So there are some huge cultural differences between Ireland and the USA, we say things differently and spell certain words differently and there is a huge difference in what is a biscuit and what is a cookie.

So let me explain where I stand on this. A biscuit (Ireland) is a cookie (USA), a scone (Ireland) is a biscuit (USA), a crisp (Ireland) is a chip (USA) and French fries (USA) are chips (Ireland).

A few pictures may help show the differences and similarities and how it can be confusing for an Irishman trying to figure out some of the simple things.

Let’s start with the whole biscuit, cookie, scone scenario.

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Irish Biscuits
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American Cookies
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American Biscuits
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Irish Scones

So does all that make sense now? We may have scones with jam, oh wait, it’s jelly here but would you ever have scones (American Biscuit) with gravy? Well here in Atlanta Biscuits with gravy is quite popular. All as clear as mud but I will move onto crisps, chips and French fries.

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Irish Crisps
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Irish Chips
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French Fries
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American Chips

Now this one is slightly easier due to the French fries and US restaurants making it big in Ireland but the chips v crisps debate is a whole different thing. In Ireland crisps, like Tayto or King are exactly that, crisps. But here in the USA, crisps are called chips. Again due to tortilla chips and dips back in Ireland this one is slightly easier to understand.

5 Months

5 Months

Just as the title suggests, today marks the day that I left Ireland and traveled to the USA 5 short months ago. I had an idea that life here would be better than back home, for starters I would be sharing it with the love of my life and my then wife to be. 5 months later and we are over 3 months married and having fun together.

So today’s post will be a little recap on the first five months of my life here in the USA. It has been good but has taken a fair bit of readjusting and even though there are some similarities between Ireland and the USA, it’s quite obvious we are 2 distinct cultures. When people here say customer service, about 90% of the time they mean good service because that’s what is expected and received. Now only if Ireland could get that memo and even though you work in a service industry, there is no need to be a grumpy fecker. If you are one of those people that hate your job, hate people coming into your shop or business, well then leave the job rather than take it out on the customer. It wouldn’t be tolerated over here by customers for a minute.

Onto driving, at first that scared the hell out of me. Driving my first day part of the way from Orlando to Atlanta was probably the least confident I was in a car since my very first lesson back in 1990. In 5 short months it has got better, even though I do still use GPS and ask Leanne to just confirm I am in the right lane.

I have had interesting conversations with people as a lot of people just know Ireland from movies or photos or visiting as a tourist and not seeing the ‘real’ Ireland. I do my best to tell them about the real Ireland, like how it’s ok for us to hate U2 and to slate them, but not for them to slate them. They are ours so even though we slate them at home, we will defend them across the globe. It’s an Irish thing. One thing I have noted and maybe Guinness should make a note of this too, bar staff cannot pull a pint of Guinness. I have been served some nice tasting Guinness, but it is basically just poured like a beer. Please bar staff, stop it or join those grumpy feckers in a new career. Some of the enjoyment in a Guinness is waiting and watching it settle before it’s topped off.

Now food, wow how much choice do people want. You can have a simple burger done about 100 different ways in 1000’s of places. And then what is on the menu is changed by people saying they want a particular burger but with something either added or taken out. If you are lover of salads, well then the USA is the place for you. I am not a salad eater for main meal, it belongs between two slices of bread in a sandwich as far as I am concerned, but some of the salads served look fantastic and come with foods I never heard off.

And finally onto family and friends. I done a few posts the other day about family and the pets as well as Robert, my son. I will reiterate that now, I am a lucky guy because my family and my newly extended family have been wonderful in their support for my move here and helping me settle in. My friends back in Ireland send me messages via Facebook, Viber and WhatsApp, and every single message is greatly appreciated.

This is probably the only post that doesn’t have any pictures except for the header photo. That is a deliberate choice as I wanted the words I am writing to stand on their own and to share my thanks to everyone who has been part of this journey so far. There is lots more to come so keep in touch and drop me a message anytime.

To wrap up it wouldn’t right of me not to mention the one person who helped to make my journey here possible, my darling wife, Leanne. We met in 2001, waited 13 years before having a conversation about our future together and here we are now, a happily newly wed couple. To Leanne I say Thank you for starting that conversation, thank you for the last 5 months and thank you for making me so happy.

Food, Glorious Food

So I am now one day short of being in the USA 4 months. Maybe now is a time to talk about food. Ok, so there are so many choices about where to go get something to eat it can be overwhelming. I have found a few places I like, a couple I won’t be in a rush back to and one or two I maybe will try later. It’s all about new experiences and stuff I wouldn’t dream of ordering in Ireland I will try here.

I am certainly a potato, meat and two veg type of guy. Give me a roast beef dinner, roast potatoes, mash or boiled potatoes and two veg, preferably Broccoli and Cauliflower, with some gravy on the meat and I am sorted. Add on a few chips (french fries) and it’s the perfect dinner. And yes I know that’s 3 types of potatoes, but chips don’t count and I enjoy the other 2.

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Us Irish were brought up on potatoes, the humble spud is a stable of many a dinner around Ireland nearly every day. Yes we eat pasta, rice and everything else but there is something about the humble spud that is homely. It is so versatile, it can be mashed, boiled, roasted, fried and even added to salad. It is a bit stereotypical to say we all eat potatoes but it’s probably a better stereotype than saying we all drink Guinness. Next time you are thinking of a dinner to have, give the potato a chance and you to may realize how versatile it actually is and easy to cook.

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I mentioned potatoes and salad a minute ago, up till recently I always thought the only place a salad belongs is between two slices of bread in a sandwich. But as it seems to be as normal as potatoes here I may as well try a couple. I do like my salads simple, some ham/chicken, tomatoes, lettuce, boiled eggs, onions and some dressing. I even surprised my wife last night by ordering the Big Chef Salad in Jason’s Deli close to where we live. It was perfect, and had both ham and chicken, two boiled egg,  baby tomatoes, mixed lettuce and choice of dressing, not a potato in sight.

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I have only briefly touched on food and choices here but I am on a journey and experiencing lots of new things and food is definitely one of the new experiences I am enjoying. Oh I am also very lucky in not only can I cook simple dishes but my wife is a fantastic cook. So here’s to lots more fun experiences not only out at dinner but also at home.

Supermarket Chase

So supermarkets here are a whole new experience for me. Yes we do have supermarkets in Ireland, and we do have some quite big ones too. But here it’s about choice and lots of choices.

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Grocery Shopping

I lived on my own for over a dozen years which meant filling a basket was my main grocery shop every week and maybe a trolley every second month. I could be in and out of a supermarket in a few mins with exactly what I wanted. I knew where everything was and the choices for some things were limited to two or three, except for maybe bread and cereal.

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Kroger Supermarket

Now of course I am no longer living on my own, grocery shopping is now a planned event with meals sorted. The first time I walked into the Kroger supermarket beside us here I nearly died. It’s huge, there is plenty of room, it’s clean and it has nearly every conceivable item you would put on a grocery list, it even has Barry’s Tea from Ireland!

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Publix Supermarket

My first foray into the supermarket alone nearly ended in disaster as I was looking for Corn Syrup, an item that would never have been on my shopping list. I knew what syrup was so naturally went to where the syrup was labeled and reckoned how hard could it be!  I asked for a bit of help and even Leanne sent me a photo, how many brands of Corn Syrup does a shop have to stock, well let me tell you it’s a lot more than a couple.

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Karo Corn Syrup

Above is the syrup I was looking for and couldn’t find as I was looking in completely the wrong place. But disaster was avoided when a kind shop assistant took pity on the lost Irishman and helped him out.

Of course three months later and it’s a bit easier and I am finding my way around, not only the supermarkets but the area I am living in and the greater Atlanta area too. You are never to old to learn, you are never to old to ask and you are certainly never to old to start afresh.