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!