Buying British food abroad

Food stash

I am a firm believer that if you choose to live in another country you should also make an effort to adapt. People who spend all their time complaining about how different everything is to back home annoy me! And I love trying all the local foods and drinks. But that doesn’t mean you have to abandon your roots completely! There are plenty of things I miss from home, and most of them are edible! My local Irish pub is celebrating its 5th birthday tonight, so of course I will be going along – both for the live music and to indulge in some yummy food that reminds me of home. Arranging my night at the Irish pub got me thinking about the other methods I have for getting my British food fix… and so the idea for this post was born. Quite a few of the things below are specific to Germany, simply because that’s where I live, but there a few that will be useful to anyone looking for British foods.

  • The most obvious place to look is an English shop. Many cities have them and some are better than others. My nearest one is The Piccadilly English Shop in Heidelberg, and it comes in useful when I make an English Christmas dinner for all my friends every year! I don’t go as much now it’s moved from opposite the train station (so convenient!), but whenever I’m in Heidelberg I’ll pop in for a look. It’s pretty small (the old premises were much bigger), but they usually have a reasonable selection of foods, and they will also order things in for you on request.People in Sweden… while on holidays in Stockholm I spotted an English shop in Södermalm. We had gone to the Söderhallarna to buy food for a picnic and I spotted the English shop upstairs. Sadly, the person I was with wouldn’t let me go in, but from what I could see it looked quite big!
  • 250 gram jar of Bovril
    Photo credit: Wikipedia

    If you’re in Germany, Karstadt’s food department is good for British (and other international) foods. Unlike America, Mexico and Asia, Britain doesn’t get its own special section, but with some searching you can find familiar foods. There’s mint sauce among the chutneys, Heinz baked beans with the tinned vegetables (but be warned… they’re not cheap), Cathedral City Cheddar with the other pre-packaged cheeses, Bovril and Marmite on a shelf of sauces and an entire shelf of Kettle Chips and Tyrell’s crisps! My Karstadt also sells various jams/marmelades from the UK and a few British ales, but I’ve yet to spot any malt vinegar.

  • Another Germany-specific one. If you’re looking for international foods and you have a Scheck-In Center near you, it’s definitely worth taking a look! Scheck-In is where I go for anything that I can’t find elsewhere – not just British foods, but things like vanilla extract and turkey mince! Some of the British foods available at my local Scheck-In include Cadbury’s chocolate, Heinz tomato soup, Cathedral City Cheddar, sliced Double Gloucester cheese and baked beans. Again, there is no “British” section, so you’ll have to go around the shop trying to spot things.
  • One for Austria. When I lived there, Billa sold both Heinz baked beans and a reasonably-priced own brand that was actualy quite good – not just a couple of beans in a lot of liquid like most cheap ones and the sauces tastes pretty authentic. They also sell (or did then) corned beef – although I may be the only person in the world who’s interested in that 😉
  • The English Shop, Cologne. I know I had English shops as my first item, but I’m including the Cologne one separately because they deliver! I’ve never even been to their actual shop (I’m just assuming they have one?) but have ordered from them a few times. Deliveries within Germany cost €4.99 and are usually fairly quick. They will also deliver internationally, but it will cost you! They have all the common brands – Walkers, McVities, Heinz, Baxters… but only tinned/dry foods – nothing that needs to be chilled. Click the name of the shop to go to their website.
  • British Corner Shop. Another online one. I’ve never ordered from there, but I’m seriously considering it despite the high delivery cost! The actual company is located in the UK, but they will deliver worldwide and they even do chilled foods. How, you ask? Here’s the text from their bacon page:  If you are an expat who is craving a spot of British bacon, then British Corner Shop has the answer to your prayers: we are able to ship chilled bacon direct to your door within 48-72 hours using our special chilled shipping boxes – problem solved! Also, they sell medicinesgain, click the shop name to go to their website.
  • Another Germany one… it might seem a bit odd, but Asia shops are a good place to find British foods. I buy PG Tips teabags from one, in huge boxes, and there’s another in Karlsruhe that sells Colman’s English mustard (only the powder though) and Bird’s custard!
  • *Update*: Now that I’m living in Switzerland, I would like to add a new place to my list, specifically for Basel. The bookshop Bider and Tanner has a whole range of British foods upstairs in the English book section – from chocolate bars and Walker’s crisps to breakfast cereals and jars of mamelade and even tins of Heinz cream of chicken soup!

Where do you go when you want food from home? And has anyone actually tried to order from the British Corner Shop website? Let me know in the comments!

31 thoughts on “Buying British food abroad

  1. I don’t really miss much from the states except Reese’s peanut butter cups. Lol I found them at a small shop but they’re a bit pricey. The main things I love are Portuguese products and there’s a tiny market that sells Spanish and Portuguese products in Karlsruhe so I’m happy. I love German food and also hate that people spend so much time bitching about food they miss. Adapt or you will be miserable is my theory. 🙂 great post

    1. I live near that Spanish/Portuguese shop and I’ve been there exactly once. It closes too early for me. Haha. The train station shop sells peanut butter cups (I think) but I’m not sure how much they cost. And Karstadt used to… not sure if they still do, but they were downstairs with the Cadbury’s flakes and Crunchies.

      Mostly I eat whatever’s available here (I won’t say I eat “German” foods because we have a lot of pasta and home-made curries) but sometimes only food from home will do 😀

  2. GREAT post! Thankfully, we have a British shop here although I rarely frequent it. I tend to eat like the locals do wherever I live, but we all know sometimes nothing beats Heinz baked beans 😉

    1. I usually eat like the locals, but I’ve got my boyfriend into corned beef hash and toad in the hole, so he’ll occasionally request one of them for tea if I have the ingredients in. I use Bratwurst for the toad in the hole though, so it’s a Germanified version 😉

      I would be perfectly happy drinking German tea, but I always run out too quickly (why would you produce boxes of tea that only have 25 bags in?!) so now I get the hugePG Tips boxes from the Asia shop – 200 teabags does me for a while!

  3. I’ve definitely adapted to French cuisine but sometimes, I miss good ol’ American fare! There’s a teensy international section in my local groceystore, it’s so pricey though, but I do treat myself to one or two things a month 🙂

  4. Fortunately you can find some German items in American stores, just not my favorite stuff. 🙂 But they usually have Ritter Sport, German coffee, Milka, Lindt…I guess people like German chocolate. But of course, I always buy Maggi Würze in America.

  5. We have a few stores here that carry German products and are lucky enough to have a butcher that was trained in Germany and makes the most delicious cold cuts, sausages, brats and other dishes. His wife also recently started baking “Broetchen” and bread. We go once a month or so, otherwise it gets to expensive. 🙂

  6. Now THAT’s what I call a useful post! Here in France, I can go to and English food shop in a nearby town if I need a quick shot of British ware- Victoria sells Walkers crisps, Cadbury’s chocolate, frozen bacon and sausages, and Patak’s curry pastes, and also does a mean cuppa and sells flapjacks to go with it. I nearly keeled over and kissed the ground when I spotted the Ribena and the Bishop’s Finger beer, an’ all….
    Now I’m going to mutter in a corner like Gollum without his ring – you’ve jsut shown me a picture of chocolate Minstrels, Hula Hoops and Hobnobs. Cold turkey time 🙂

    1. That picture is all the stuff I bought in Ireland in June… strangely enough, there’s nothing let now 😉

      I’m jealous of your frozen bacon and sausages! Just the thought of decent bacon makes me drool.

  7. There’s not actually a lot that I miss about British and Irish food. I always stock up on Marks and Spencers mint truffle bars when I’m back, but that’s about it. I love Spanish food and always stock up when I go there, especially on the jamon iberico. One of the things I miss about living in Almaty is the Korean supermarkets. I used to live off Kimchi, it’s such a versatile food and is also classes as a “superfood.” There is a Korean restaurant here that sells it, but it’s not the same as having a couple of tubs in the fridge.

    1. I miss Marks&Spencers!! Ironic really, considering I rarely shopped there when I was in the UK. Too expensive.

      I’ve never had Korean food. Karlsruhe is not cosmopolitan enough for such exotic things… the best we can manage is Indian and sushi 😉

  8. I miss food a lot. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a British section or shop here, though I don’t doubt they exist… but many shops and supermarkets and even posh department stores have fancy teas and random bits and pieces here and there (weetabix being my favourite of the moment). My local supermarket also does a “Food Festival” every few months where it imports products from different countries (usually European) but I am yet to have seen one from the UK… It’s currently on Germany actually. 🙂 It’s quite nice because when the country changes they sell off the previous countries wares at discounted prices so I’ve just picked up some authentic French mustard for next to nothing. 🙂

    1. Funny that your supermarket is doing Germany 😀
      Karstadt actually had a British Isles Week recently, so I stocked up on Walkers crisps and chocolate digestives. They didn’t have any malt vinegar or gravy granules though! Luckily I still have both of those things from previous trips to the UK/English shop.

  9. I know I haven’t been gone from the US long enough to miss things, but we made a trip to a big Tesco and they had an international section. I didn’t even buy anything because I realized that I don’t even like most of the things they were selling like grape jelly and barbeque sauce.

    1. Just wait til you’ve been away for longer… I get excited by the sight of Marmite on the shelf in Karstadt and I HATE the stuff!! Doesn’t stop me telling every expat I meet that Karstadt sells it though 😛

  10. I miss American food. Weirdly, never things I regularly ate in the States, but without the ability to buy them if I so desire, I crave them. My mother does her best to keep me supplied, but sometimes I cave at Real and buy poptarts 😀

  11. Omg I thought I had struck gold when I checked out that online british store that claims to ship bacon worldwide!! I have just come back from Mexico and unfortunately that country is not on their list (however Peru and Paraguay are strangely). I have emailed them asking what the crack is and are there any other options so ill stop in with my findings when they do.

    I cant decide whether to go back to Mexico or go Europe for a few months and this could seriously be the deciding factor lol!

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