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Category: lunch

Price: 65p for a can of beans, about $1.99 in the US.

Ingredients: Beans (51%), Tomatoes (34%), Water, Sugar, Modified Cornflour, Salt, Spirit Vinegar, Spice Extracts, Herb Extract. Toasted bread.

To start with, I want to take a minute to discuss why I have not done any food reviews in a long time. It was really easy to do food reviews when I first moved here because I had a set (American) way of looking at food, and pretty much everything here was foreign. The problem is, I’ve lived in the UK for almost five years now. In that time, I’ve spent a total of two weeks in the US. So over time, perspective has shifted significantly, to where British food is what I eat all the time, and American food seems more foreign now. I’ve had haggis more recently than I’ve had a Dairy Queen Blizzard. I can much more easily have a pork pie for lunch than buffalo wings. So I really have trouble isolating what is “foreign” now.

Anyway, I said I’d follow orders, and I’ve been ordered to do a food review. So I’ll review beans on toast.

The British have a bizarre relationship with toast. I saw a tv special here about comfort foods. The number one British comfort food was not anything normal, like macaroni and cheese or ice cream or chocolate cake. No, the British love toast. It makes me think that maybe they’re a bit simple. If I was depressed, I’d want something like a plate of meatloaf and a carton of Ben and Jerry’s to cheer me up. If I was British, apparently you could appease me with a piece of toasted bread. I don’t get it. And if you want to make them ecstatic, dump some canned baked beans on top of that toast. That is their typical college student food. Where Americans would have ramen noodles, they have baked beans.

These baked beans are not the American pork and beans you’re used to. They don’t have any brown sugar and they don’t have the weird little slab of bacon fat floating in the can. Basically, they’re beans with tomato sauce. And not Italian tomato sauce. We’re talking about more like tomato soup. Or like the sauce in a can of spaghetti-o’s. (For the Brits reading, if you add a spoonful of brown sugar and a squirt of yellow mustard to British baked beans, they are a bit more like the American ones.)

When you pour these beans over a piece of toast, it pretty much tastes like tomatoey beans on top of some toasted bread. I don’t hate it. I don’t crave it. It makes an okay lunch if you’re short on money, and it’s low fat and high in fiber and protein. It’s much better for you than a can of spaghetti-o’s. I can’t say I understand the British adoration of beans on toast, but it’s an okay lunch once in a while. (I prefer it with a little grated mature cheddar on top. But that does undo the low fat and healthy claims.)