Don't Supersize My Fridge Across the Pond
The rise of the "American fridge-freezer" does not necessarily mean progress.
When I first moved to London 20 years ago a refrigerator was a humble "fridge." They didn't do big, they did these small, pint-sized little thingys that were kind of cute and held about a days worth of shopping. Come to think of it, everything was smaller-portions in restaurants, cocktails, and especially expectations.
Now, you go to someone’s house, it boasts an "American style fridge-freezer" — oversized and holding a lot more stuff than you ever need. Sensing a theme here? Yup, this country’s been Americanized in a lot of ways since I moved here, don't get me wrong, a lot of the change is for the better. There is nothing wrong with people's expectations expanding; but there is something wrong with people's waistlines expanding.There is nothing wrong with your domestic life improving, your choice improving, and believe me i am not one of those snobby American expats who think everything that’s not British is bad.
But some of these changes, some of these "improvements" make me nostalgic for things this country seem to be losing. It’s essential Britishness. That which makes it unique. As a disappointed friend who came visit said: "I have waited all my life to come to London, to experience a different culture, and I walk down Kings Road, an iconic shopping street that I associate with punk and rebellion and what did I find? I could have been anywhere. Anywhere USA. I could eat at McDonalds, shop at Gap, pop into a mini mall, go to a movie at a multiplex-mostly American blockbusters, and top it off with a cup of coffee at Starbucks."
And that my friends, is why the rise of the "American fridge-freezer" does not necessarily mean progress. You see it over and over in this city-an area that is unique loses everything that makes it unique to make room for more faceless chain stores.
A wonderful city tears down the old to make room for the new. Of course the two can live side by side-but I wish the Tesco's (enormous chain supermarkets who would like to take over the planet), the Asda's (owned by Wal-Mart) weren’t welcomed quite so easily. I wish that sometimes I could walk down a street and know that I could only be in London, not anywheresville.
We moved into the house I live in five years ago. The kitchen was built in. You kind of have to hunt to find the refrigerator. Oh-there it is, behind a fake closet. "Hmm, its kind of puny," I said to my British husband when were thinking of buying the house.
His reply: "Don't be ridiculous, how much food do you need to have in the house at one time? You have a supermarket down the road and a great fruit and vegetable market five minutes away."
He's right. I'm glad I have an old fashioned fridge. It reminds me of why I moved to this country. When I am feeling a little homesick, I just look at its small proportions and remember-ah yes, I like the otherness of living in London. It's still here, you just have to search a little harder.