is that thing loaded?

When Mara was traveling in Scotland this summer, she had a good long soak in the bog of contradictions that define British-American culture clash.

Or something. Perhaps an example would be more illustrative: Mara is on a 12-hour ferry ride from Aberdeen to Lerwick. The seas are rough. Her stomach is desperately in need of some comfort food, so she heads to the cafeteria to see what she can find. She spies baked potato on the menu and her spirits lift....that sounds perfect, a nice fluffy baked potato with a little butter and sour cream. She orders it, becoming very hungry now that she is potentially in the same room with an actual baked potato. In preparation, her tiny mind conjures up a steaming image of The Perfect Baked Potato.

The counterperson turns and opens an oven, in which there are several naked baked potatoes slowly dying a shriveled death. Mara is so suddenly hungry at this point that she doesn't care that it's a gnarled old dried-up tuber....it'll be fine fluffed up and buttered, right? The counterperson then gets ready to pass Mara the plate, but before he does so he grabs a huge meat cleaver and brutally quarters the potato into unfluffable, smashed wedges and hands it to her.

Frown. Sigh. OK, where is the butter? She turns to the "potato topping area" and is a bit mystified by the contents. Tuna salad, coleslaw, cottage cheese, corn....no butter. In fact, not only no butter, but no scallions, no sour cream, no bacon. No potato toppings at all. She asks the counterman for butter and grumpily trudges off to configure her potato into something that might resemble her mind's potato.

Mara survives the ferry ride (the potato does not), and eventually makes her way to Hillswick in the Shetland Islands. At some point, she is relating this story to some nice English chaps who are staying there. And she's saying, "You know how sometimes you have something in your mind that you want to eat, and there's just this ideal version of it you're picturing....for example, there are certain things that have to be on your baked potato for it to be a satisfying baked potato." Before Mara has even finished this sentence, the English blokes are agreeing in unison: "Oh yeah...tuna salad, cottage cheese, corn...."

This hilarity would continue just about every time Mara would have a craving for an old standby.

Mara: Hey guys, let's get a pizza. I really need a pizza.
Englishman: Jolly good, spot on. I'll just pop round and pick it up. Em...right, then: what toppings do you fancy?
Mara: Um...just the most basic ingredients, you know, the things that are supposed to be on a pizza.
Englishman: Oh, right, so....crab, corn, tuna salad, cottage cheese...
Mara: You fucking Limey bastards.


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