What It Means to Be American
A National Conversation


Author Erin Moore

Please Bring Me Ziploc Bags

June 30, 2016

Erin Moore is the author of That’s Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us. A former book editor, she is an American expatriate living in London. Before participating in a Zócalo/Smithsonian “What It Means to Be American” panel in London on whether America is still a British colony, Moore visited the green room to discuss advertising faux pas, her shredded Barbour jacket, and her admiration for America’s can-do spirit.

Q: If you had to pick one American item that you’d love a pipeline to, what would it be?
Ziploc bags. They have Ziploc bags here but not the brand. If you’re going to pour hot chicken stock in it and lay it on its side, there’s only one brand I use.

Q: What do you wake up to?
My son shouting out from his crib.

Q: What do you love to hate?
That’s a tough question. The Daily Mail. I read it every day and I have my moments where I think, “Who writes these captions?!”

Q: How are you different from who you were 10 years ago?
Ten years ago, I was living in New York and I really loved it there but I can’t imagine going back. I moved here about 10 years ago. The culture shock was total and miserable. But I feel so at home now it’s hard to imagine leaving. I may stay forever.

Q: If you could be any animal, which would you want to be?
My cat. She just has a good life. And she doesn’t have to get up in the middle of the night with a baby. Ever.

Q: What has been your favorite “lost in translation” moment in London?
There have been so many. The other day I walked past Banana Republic and there was a huge sign in window that said, “Pants for everybody.” In the U.K., pants are underwear. I thought, “This is what happens when a global brand does the same marketing in a foreign country and doesn’t consult anyone.”

Q: What are you keeping in your closet that you should have thrown out already?
My first Barbour jacket because it’s kind of shredded, but they’re kind of better that way. An American would’ve bought a new one but I haven’t—which proves I’ve gone native.

Q: What magazines and newspapers do you read regularly?
I love the Financial Times and The Economist. I always read Tatler—I love it. The Daily Mail, the Evening Standard. I read Vogue; I read the New Yorker. I read absolutely everything I can get hands on. I love The Week.

Q: What does it mean to be American?
It means to believe completely that you can be, do, or have anything you want if you’re willing to work for it. I love that about America—that attitude.

*Photo by Ed Telling.