Song, by Toad

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Honey, I’m Home

US Flag

Well the best man’s speech at my brother’s wedding went off okay.  No fuck ups, no swearing, no colossal faux-pas and mercifully short. Well, two swears actually, but no-one seemed to mind. In fact I was so relieved to get the bloody thing over with without ballsing it all up for everyone I went straight to the gin, poured a couple of extremely generous ones and proceeded to spend the rest of the wedding getting utterly smashed.

I have some culinary points to make about America, two good and two bad, so if you’re a Yank-basher you may be disappointed, but if you’re one of those flag-waving twits who thinks the sun shines out of the arse of all things Yankee-Doodle-etc.. then you may get vaguely irritated as well. Yippee – a post that’ll offend everyone!

Coffee – Unspeakably, undrinkably bad: piss-weak, flavourless, aromaless, lifeless, characterless, spineless fucking dishwater. It’s not that you can’t get decent coffee, but you have to really, really search for it. My brother found us an excellent place in the Italian part of Boston, but virtually every single cup you get everywhere else, even in the coffee houses and decent restaurants, is so thin and weak and grey it is actually impossible to drink. The reason? Well Americans seem to drink gallons of the awful stuff so I suppose if it actually was even vaguely related to actual coffee they’d all be whizzed off their tits on caffeine by elevenses.

Bob Dylan – One More Cup of Coffee (Live 1974)

Beer – You’d expect me to have the same to say about American beer really, wouldn’t you, given the ‘fucking close to water joke’* and the abominations they foist on the rest of the world in the form of Miller and Bud and their flavourless, frat-boy ilk. Well the reason American beer abroad is so utterly dismal is because they won’t bloody well let any of the decent stuff out of the country. While the EU tries to batter the shit out of British micro-breweries with their blanket standardisation laws, America have gloried in their smaller brewers. Most of the local beers in America are an absolute treat – well, in New England anyway – not as heavy as British ones, but good flavour and character, complete with evocative names and natty artwork. Bloody marvellous, no wonder they don’t want to share.

Ryan Adams & the Cardinals – A Kiss Before I Go

Food - Bleuch. The East Coast seafood is excellent in the sense that they do nothing to it whatsoever, and then slap it on a plate with plenty of butter. Sandwiches, for the most part, knock anything you’d get in Europe (outside of France of course) into a cocked hat. And I’m sure the very expensive stuff is just as good as you’d get for lots of money anywhere else. But honestly, absolutely everything in-between is utterly unvarying, served in stupidly enormous quantities and, most importantly, utterly devoid of vegetables. Fuck me, people, they’re not poisonous and no, ‘Freedom Fries’ do not fucking count. Salads, also, do not have to contain bits of fruit to be considered cuisine. Fucking awful. If you want a good meal, go to Australia.

Rich Amino – Chicken ‘n’ Chips
Jeff Foxworthy – Supersize Them Fries

Gin - last and, let’s face it, most importantly by some distance, is gin. Let’s face it, a nation could live in pools of their own faeces and fuck dogs for sport, but as far as I’m concerned if they served a good gin they would represent the pinnacle of civillisation. And do Americans serve a good gin? Ooh, Mummy! Americans pour gin, and indeed every other spirit, with the sort of reckless abandon that makes me fall to my knees and kiss the turf in gratitude. Three quarters gin, a big fat squeeze of lime and if there’s any space left then perhaps some tonic. Fucking marvellous. We may have invented the stuff, but it appears it took our bible-bothering cousins across the pond to figure out what to really do with it. A juniper-laced, lime-kissed alcoholic delight!

Tom Waits – Gin-Soaked Boy

*Q: Why is American beer rather like making love in a canoe?

26 witty ripostes to Honey, I’m Home

  1. avatar

    Perhaps ’tis nothing more than the generous pour of Plymouth that I am currently enjoying, but this must be one of the best posts I’ve read in a long time. Great blog. Keep it up Toad. America loves you. DB

  2. avatar

    Thanks for the tunes Toad.

    And if there’s a way to get it across the pond, see if you can get your hands on Anchor Steam’s Junipero and No. 209 — both relatively new San Francisco gins. Junipero, in particular, is a must have.

  3. avatar

    Agreed, great post. As with beer though, any true Micro you will only find in the great Northwest. Oregon is the only place for a decent pint.

  4. avatar

    You wonderful people. Plymouth, Dave, is the very gin my brother most generously ordered a couple of bottles of for us at the wedding. We finished both.

    Anchor Steam Junipero! I will do my best to lay my hands on a bottle – mmm mmh! Maybe I can make my brother get me some for Christmas.

    And Dave, Oregon – Portland in particular – is producing so much absolutely brilliant music at the moment, I knew there had to be a reason for it!

  5. avatar

    Welcome home! Sounds like you had a great time, getting drunk on gin, and finding things to rant about. Also back now, and getting hyped about the gigs in our fair town in August…

    Ed

  6. avatar

    Except for the truly dismal T on the Fringe line-up, I’d agree. I have a few decent tickets for things though.

    Take it she said yes then?

  7. avatar

    Yep, spot on with all four points. Quality post!

  8. avatar

    yes, she said ‘yes’ and interpol are playing, plus a fair few guilty pleasures, so not to much to moan about…

  9. avatar
    Campfires & Battlefields

    Ah, Matthew, it’s a treat to have you back. It seems so long since anyone I know has discussed fucking dogs for sport, and I didn’t realize ’til now how much I’d missed it.

    Glad you liked the barley water over here; trust a Toad to know his hops. Dave’s right about Oregon, of course, but there’s top-notch stuff to be had pretty much throughout the country, particularly if German immigrants ever lived in the area. In my home state of New York we’ve got the Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, now owned by the Duvel people from Belgium, who produce four fascinating Belgian-style ales, my personal favorite being the Hennepin (highly recommended). In Louisiana they have the Abita brewery that makes the tremendous Turbo Dog, and the list goes on and on. Haven’t had the Anchor Steam Junipero, but I’ve never been let down by any Anchor Steam brew; it’s a name to be trusted.

    Sorry about the food, but you must understand that we eat it less for nutrition than for the flatulence it produces.

    At any rate, welcome back.

  10. avatar
    Campfires & Battlefields

    And it’s because they’re both fucking close to water

  11. avatar

    Hey Man,
    I love your blog. Thanks for all the interesting posts. Before you write off all American coffee, come to New Orleans. I promise we do it right. Our seafood and local beer is pretty damn good too.
    Peace.

  12. avatar

    I’d post the fantastic 9th & Hennpin in response to that, C&B, but if I play any more Tom Waits he might take out a restraining order.

    Cheers Chris – I never said the decent coffee wasn’t there, just that it takes some pretty bloody determined rooting out.

  13. avatar
    caitlynintherye

    I find this humorous because I am an American and say pretty much the same things on a regular basis. I work in a tiny cafe in Phildelphia that serves AMAZING coffee, homemade gelato, fresh paninis and great salads. And I agree, much of American food is large slabs of salted and buttered crap.
    The beer though- you’re right by saying that we do have our lovely hometown beers. They are each so unique and most bars that I go to have a special with them.

  14. avatar

    That “devoid of vegetables” bit is right on…unless you’re in Los Angeles, where a citywide, several years-long obsession with organic everything means an abundance of overpriced produce on elegantly simple plates. It was under Reagan that ketchup became a vegetable, no?

    Also, bottled Guinness here is flat and tastes like bitter water. I’d hope you have it better…

  15. avatar

    Someone has posted a copy of your best man’s speech on their blog….

    http://raidingthevinylarchive.blogspot.com/2007/07/its-not-big-and-its-not-clever.html

    Welcome home buddy….

  16. avatar

    China – BOTTLED GUINNESS????? I hope no-one in Ireland knows where you live! I don’t even like Guinness and I still find the bottled stuff an affront to all that is sane and good in the universe!

    And did you know that the massive subsidies your government pays to farmers of things like corn (for making corn starch and corn syrup which are enormously abundant in processed food) and the no-subsidies-at-all it pays to farmers of actual fruit and veg means that basically the shit is being subsidised to the hilt and your average American is, comparatively speaking, forced to pay way over the odds to eat healthily. Sorry, I’m ranting again, but I find that flabbergasting.

    JC you are an arse. I hope Canada is cold. Facking cahnt.

  17. avatar

    I really liked America when I’ve been but despite all its thousands of varieties of coffee and plethora of diverse food types, still find it impossible to understand the notion that you put the tea bag in the cup first, then add the boiling water!!! I’m not sure that I agree that American beer is nice- and find it funny that the worst beers in UK (Bass, Boddingtons etc) are served as ‘authentic British Pub Beer’.
    Also why no veg with any of the food?

  18. avatar

    Your complaint about stateside veg would stand up better in my mind if ,after the best man’s speech, you had not perched on your chair at the dinner, briefly poked in horror at a plate of rocket salad and said “fuck the salad, I need gin” and headed straight to the bar before eating two lobsters and a steak.

  19. avatar
    Toad's mother

    It was a very good speech, made me quite proud, which probably indicated the amount of champagne I had consumed at that point. However, dear, your grandfather would be shocked at your language!!

  20. avatar

    If you two don’t piss off soon I shall have my image as a fast-living gadabout completely ruined.

    It is very difficult to be cutting edge when one’s mother and one’s wife don’t disapprove entirely of what one is up to. Pair of carping old fishwives.

  21. avatar

    Don’t worry dear – there is still plenty to disapprove of.

  22. avatar

    Whoa…Matt (not Matthew Toad) – if you don’t pour water over the teabag, how do you do it?? Do you put the tea in the pot with water and then pour it into a cup as complete tea? Or water before teabag? There’s a new world to open up here…

  23. avatar

    Tea: not for Toads. I drink coffee, ask a proper Englishman.

    Apparently one pours the water on the teabag rather than filling the cup with water and then swilling the teabag around in it. It seems.

  24. avatar

    …but if you pour water over the teabag, it quickly releases a burst of tea into the water and mixes it up so you don’t have to do much swilling about. We Americans are lazy and like convenience, you know.

  25. avatar

    I think that is exactly what you are supposed to do. I think Matt had a problem with water first, teabag second for just that reason.

  26. avatar

    Oh, yes yes, his wording makes more sense now. In that case, British people are lazy as well.

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