Earl Grey All Butter Shortbread

Brand: Lidl Deluxe Scottish Collection

Cost: £1.29

Found at: Lidl

Glasgow and Tacoma are so similar that I sometimes forget that I have moved abroad at all. Tacoma is a seaport with a temperate climate, Glasgow is a seaport with a temperate climate. Tacoma has a historic reputation for a drugs and crime, Glasgow has a historic reputation for a drugs and crime. Tacoma has a museum that looks like a potato bug, Glasgow has a convention center that looks like a potato bug. Aside from the accents and the sandstone facades, I feel quite at home.

But every now and then, I am reminded that I have indeed gone back to the Old World. Walking through a rough part of town, I might find a 200-year-old stone church, equipped with spire and bell, that has been converted into a climbing gym. I might pass a plaque outside a local hipster bar, pinpointing the location of an unsuccessful rebellion that I vaguely remember from a painting one time. Walking through a park on a summer’s day, I might even encounter 30 spray-tanned lads, in kilts and sprogs, chugging Tennent’s beers on their way to a wedding. For all that it may seem familiar, Glasgow is full of gentle little reminders that I am not in Kansas anymore.

And the best of these is shortbread. Scotland is famous for its shortbread: a simple, no-nonsense cookie made of butter, sugar, and flour that you can serve during afternoon or pack into the highlands for a long day’s hike. It keeps fresh for ages, but still crumbles to apart when you bite into it. And best of all, it’s flavorful enough for my foodie friends while still being mild enough for the picky eaters in my life.

This Earl Grey variety are easily my favorite. There’s probably something metaphorical about a Scottish biscuit flavored with an English tea, but as an American I try to stay well out of it. On the practical level, they’re delicious, and eating them is a tiny little celebration in my day of the joy of living abroad: finding all the things that are familiar and all the things that are new. Traveling the world is not always scenic vistas, towering cathedrals, and strange customs you only barely understand. Sometimes, it’s just a cup of tea and a shortbread cookie in a town that could almost be your home.

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