A Taste of Home While Abroad

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Scroll to the bottom for Mama Jen’s Chili recipe!

When you move to a new country, even if it’s English-speaking, you’re sure to have an interesting time during your first grocery shop.

Even though I thought most of the food items I enjoyed would have a Scottish-brand equivalent, I was wrong. That couldn’t have been more clear than when I was trying to cook up our favorite family meal — chili and cornbread.

Don’t get me wrong, travelling is about trying new things and experiencing a new culture, but sometimes you just want something that tastes like home. I know, chili and cornbread isn’t really a “New England” dish, but my mom grew up in New Mexico and Chili Tuesdays were a thing. I’ve carried that love for chili into my new marriage and it’s a weekly dish in our house.

On our first trip to Tesco, the overpriced smaller grocery store just down Market Street, the only ingredients I could find for our meal was Jiffy cornbread in the “American” food section and “minced” beef (aka, ground beef). No beans. No tomato sauce. No seasoning. The no-beans thing was killing me! (Unless you wanted baked beans in tomato sauce, but I wasn’t ready to go there yet).

Jiffy corn bread mix and Diet Coke on a table

Thankfully, discount store Aldi had a good supply of kidney beans (with no pinto or black beans anywhere to be found, *sad face*), so we grabbed those along with a can of butter beans because we thought those would do the trick. Turns out butter beans are GIANT (they look like baby ears) and not exactly “chili” material. But they tasted just fine. We even found Old El Paso chili seasoning, so yay us!

On another Tesco stop I saw this single can of Diet Coke staring me in the face. I’ve really cut back my soda consumption (something about Casey thinking it’ll kill me) and I rarely indulge the toxins or the price-tag. But we were having a “home” meal, so I had to splurge.

Cornbread and Chili

Even without pinto beans, the meal tasted just like I love it and transported me back to the states. (Notice the giant butter beans taking over the chili — how rude!)

Chili and Diet Coke

Eating your favorite dishes abroad might require some ingenuity and an FBI search party, but it absolutely can be done.


Chili Ingredients (American store version):

3 cans of beans, usually 1 kidney, 1 pinto, and 1 black

Some chopped onions (optional)

1 can of tomato sauce

1 packet of chili seasoning

1 pound of ground beef

Cheese to liking


First, brown beef in the pot and drain excess fat.

Next, pour in two cans of beans (drained) and then the final can (half drained). If you want the onions, now is a good time to toss them in and let them brown a little too.

After that, add the tomato sauce and chili seasoning and bring to a roaring boil, being careful not to burn anything. Turn down to simmer and cover while the corn bread cooks.

Once you’re ready to eat, ladle into bowls and top with cheese and cornbread.

Just follow the cornbread boxed directions (sorry, I’m lazy).

I hope you enjoy some of Mama Jen’s Chili!

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