After spending her first 43 years in Great Britain, Mandy Island found herself in Utah without proper English chocolates, crisps and custards.
"I was homesick and I couldn't get what I wanted," the Layton resident remembered. Opening her own import store, the Little Taste of Britain, near her home was the answer.
Initially Island's tiny shop carried packaged and canned items including teas, Scottish oats, digestive biscuits and English sodas.
A year later, in 2008, Island and her husband Nick, moved the store to a more visible spot at 1095 N. Main St. in Layton and expanded to include a restaurant. Today, the menu includes English fish and chips, beans on toast, battered sausage and a host of other items that Brits just can't live without.
Little Taste of Britain is just one of a handful of English-themed shops in Utah where all can find a bit of Old World fare. In Salt Lake City, The London Market sells all things British, from biscuits and cakes to tea and chocolates. Next door to the store is Elizabeth's Bakery & Tea shop, which serves tea, meat pies and even Welsh rarebit.
In South Davis County, there is Souties. John Tarr opened the market in North Salt Lake about 18 months ago. He sells goods from Great Britain, but specializes in South African fare. In August, he added a bakery to the store that sells Cornish pasties, meat pies and sausage rolls.
Utahns may wonder why there has been a British market invasion, especially
"Americans think English food is bland," Island acknowledged. But she noted the English have a similar disdain for American food, despising everything from our waxy chocolates to overly-sweet breads.
"We don't put all the additives and sweeteners in our food," she said with a perky accent and matter-of-fact tone.
It was Utah's despicable fish and chip offerings that had Island's customers begging her to open a "chippy," the nickname for the take-out fish and chip shops that dot England's landscape.
She happily obliged, spending a week in her favorite fish-and-chip shop back home in Towcester (sounds like toaster) learning to properly batter and deep-fry cod.
Back in Utah, she wanted her "chippy" to be exactly like the stands in England, so she only offered take-out service. Tartar sauce isn't on the menu either -- real Brits only put malt vinegar on their fish.
Soon she caved to customer demand adding a seating area, which she recently had to expand, and tartar sauce, although she charges an extra 10 cents to serve it.
There's one more item that Little Taste of Britain offers that isn't found in England: ice for your soda. "In England," Island said. "We drink them warm."
Debra Menacker of Roy visits Little Taste of England at least twice a week. Sometimes it's just to enjoy the authentic fish and chips. Other times, she'll stock up on drinks, custards and English bacon, which is less salty and resembles thinly sliced prosciutto or ham.
"This is where I go when I need a little English fix," she said.
Mandy and Nick Island, owners of Little Taste of Britain, offered their list of must-have foods.
1. Cadbury Chocolate » In the U.S., Cadbury is owned by Hershey's and its U.S. products don't have the same flavor as what is produced England. Island said the two most popular bars are Crunchies (milk chocolate with a honeycomb center) and Flakes (crumbly all-milk chocolate.)
2. Tea » The tea in American grocery stores is just too weak for the true English palate. PG Tips is the all-purpose black tea of choice.
3. Digestive biscuits » Oat-based cookies served with afternoon tea. McVitie's makes original and chocolate flavors.
4. Crisps » These are basically potato chips with unique flavor combinations such as steak and onion, cheese and, the most popular, prawn cocktail, which sells out within a few days at Little Taste of Britain.
5. Baked beans in tomato sauce » These are similar to American baked beans, only with more tomato and less sugar; they're usually served over buttered toast for a quick mid-day meal.
6. Custards » This sweet, thickened mixture of milk and eggs is served with almost every English dessert, from pies to steamed pudding.
7. Fish and chips » The fish is usually fresh cod that has been battered and deep-fried, while the chips are basically french fries, but "always cut from fresh potatoes, never frozen," Island says. Mushy peas are served as a side dish.
8. English bacon » Thinly sliced and less salty, English bacon resembles prosciutto and is a favorite sandwich filling.
9. Crumpets » This round, spongy bread looks similar to an English muffin, but is made from a yeasty batter and cooked on a grill. Served toasted at breakfast or tea, and eaten with butter and jam.
10. Bangers » Mildly spiced sausage made with ground pork and bread crumbs, and usually served with mashed potatoes. They must be pricked with a fork or knife before cooking or they'll explode like a firecracker, which in England is called a banger.
Little Taste of Britain » 1095 N. Main St., Layton; 801-543-5707. Open Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Restaurant menu includes fish and chips, beans on toast, battered sausage and steamed pudding with custard. A small import shop is adjacent to the restaurant where customers can buy teas, Scottish oats, digestive biscuits and English sodas. They also offer refrigerated items including English bacon, bangers and crumpets.
London Market » 563 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City; 801-531-7074. Open Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sells biscuits, cakes, tea, chocolates, gifts and clothing.
Elizabeth's Bakery & Tea shop » 575 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City; 801-433-1170. Open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Located next to the London Market, it serves tea, meat pies and Welsh rarebit.
Souties » 180 N. Highway 89, North Salt Lake; 801-295-0579. Open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sells imported items from England and South Africa. Owner John Tarr makes fresh South African jerky, called bilitong; and sells a coriander-spiced sausage known as boerewors. Baked items include Cornish pasties, meat pies and sausage rolls. On Saturdays, don't miss the deep-fried koeksusters and English scones.