“I had no idea apple pie was considered ‘quintessentially’ American until I lived there and heard this phrase! I was thought it was very English!” So said Jennie Pollock, my editor of Finding Myself in Britain, who gave me the pictured fabulous tea towel as a “baby shower” gift for my book-baby at the book launch. Americans claim apple pie as one of their core symbols, along with Mom and Uncle Sam and blue jeans. I suppose this grew out of the nation being formed by immigrants – apple seeds were brought over to the colonies by the English settlers in the 1600s. But Jennie is right – actually the first recipe for apple pie, according to this interesting post, was published in an English cookbook in 1381 and called for raisins, pears, and figs in addition to apples.
Americans are happy to be associated with symbols such as the American flag, the freedom-loving eagle, and apple pie. But what about the people on this small island? That becomes much more complicated – as British as…? What comes to mind? I can think of traits for individual countries: As Scottish as kilts and thistles and William Wallace. As Welsh as daffodils and amazing singers and St David. As Irish as a craic and shamrocks and potatoes. As English as – what? From a tourist approach people would say Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and a stiff upper lip.
What do you say? What are Americans like? Britons? If you’re Scottish/Welsh/Irish/English, do you agree or disagree with those I listed for your country? And if you hail from another country, what are your country’s symbols?