An Adventure A Day

Because "life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all" – Helen Keller

It’s that time of year again. Summer returns, and with it the expat exodus begins. Many will soon undertake the annual pilgrimage to the lands from whence they came. We will not. We have not been back to the States since we moved to Germany four summers ago. Because I know that our time here is limited, I have chosen not to make the long trip back every year in favor of exploring all that Europe has to offer. I never regret the decision to stay, and we’ve had some remarkable adventures along the way. However, now and again, I do miss something from home. Seeing all of these planned trips back home got me thinking about what I did miss about the States. Other than family, I realized that most of them relate to food. So here are the top five things I miss from the US:

1. Sweet corn. Summer is just not summer without it. You can grill all you like, but it’s just not a barbecue without ears of fresh, buttery sweetcorn. Golden, bursting with flavor, straight from the cob, sweet as sunshine corn. Roasted, grilled, steamed or boiled, smothered in butter or spritzed with lemon, I love sweetcorn. Germany does not do sweetcorn. Sure, they sell “sweetcorn”. The stalls in the farmer’s market may be lined with exorbitantly overpriced cobs of corn. It looks like sweetcorn, but don’t let the appearance fool you. The only resemblance that Zuckermais bears to American sweetcorn is in shape and color. It tastes like cow corn. And yes, I have eaten cow corn.

2. Salsa. Fresh homemade salsa. Mouth-watering salsa verde. The fresh cilantro I need to make my own salsa, with fresh jalapeños and tomatillos. I would go on, but the thought of fresh salsa is making both my mouth and my eyes water. (My husband assures me that we can in fact find fresh cilantro here, under the name coriander. While I have come across it in the American Commissary on base, I have only rarely seen it in the German grocery stores where I do the majority of my shopping.)

3. A meat counter that offers anything other than pork. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy pork and ham, but every day? No, thank you very much. While there are the occasional turkey cutlets and chicken breasts thrown in, most of the meat in the local Metzgerei oinked at one time. I miss cold cuts that are not salami, bologna, ham, or a mix of everything left in the kitchen held together with aspic. I miss chicken and turkey and roast beef.

4. Baggers at the grocery store. The checkout line in the German grocery store is a contest, one that I never win. I race to unload and reload my cart before the cashier finishes scanning my items. She is always at least one step ahead of me. Once she finishes, I am expected to pay and leave immediately, before the next customer’s items cross the checkout line. This never happens. My inability to quickly reload my cart is the cause of many a hold-up in the German grocery store. And many a discontented grumble from the rest of the patrons.

5. Screens. I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll mention it again here. The thing I absolutely miss the most from the US are window screens. It’s not something I ever paid attention to before I moved here, but as I sit here with a fly swatter in hand stealthily tracking flies, mosquitos and bees all summer, it is the one thing I will never overlook again.

What do you miss most when you are away from home?

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12 thoughts on “The Top 5 Things I Miss From America

  1. Muzzy says:

    Having only left our beautiful shores twice, once for four exciting weeks in the UK, and secondly a surprisingly enjoyable ten days in China, I took the one thing to the UK that I would miss the most, a jar of Vegemite, albeit I had to eat my breakfast toast out doors, my hostess did not like the smell of it hahahaha. other than that I was reluctant to return home from either trip as I was enjoying both experiences. I can only imagine how wonderful living abroad would be knowing you can return home at any time of your choice.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
      I hope the weather was agreeable at least – I enjoy breakfast out of doors, but only when the weather cooperates 🙂
      It’s fascinating to learn which foods equate to home and comfort for someone. I’ve never tried Vegemite, I imagine it can be difficult to find when you’re away!

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  2. amforte66 says:

    No salsa? I would miss that too. Screens? Unacceptable. Yikes, that’s crazy! I would lose in the grocery store too…the Germans are so efficient! Loved your post. 🙂

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  3. June says:

    I also miss beef. There are days I would kill for a thick, juicy steak, grilled to perfection. Or a lamb roast. Mostly I miss fish and seafood – the selection and quality here is abysmal compared with home. BTW – you can grow cilantro very easily in window boxes. It’s one of my favourite herbs – I can’t live without it. Screen doors don’t exist back in Ireland either, but I sure would like one here – my kitchen is constantly full of flies!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by!
      I agree about the seafood – we lived in Florida before we moved to Germany, and there is just no comparison.
      You’re so lucky to have found cilantro! Although I regularly see all manner of herbs for sale, I’ve never found cilantro. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t last long even if I did happen to find some, I have a special talent for killing plants 🙂

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  4. I miss everything on this list too!! I feel so stressed at the grocery store, I don’t know who can manage to bag it all and pay in time. One thing that I miss that isn’t related to food (though most things are) are thrift shops. They haven’t reached Spain, which is super surprising, but it was where I used to get a lot of great clothes cheaply and I miss them a lot!

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    1. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one losing the grocery bagging contest 🙂 I am mentally prepping for the encounter from the moment I enter the store!
      It’s too bad you can’t find thrift shops in Spain. Germany has second hand stores, consignment shops and Flohmarkts (most are like community yard sales) galore.

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  5. Carmen Sylvia says:

    Hi! Oh gosh, I feel you on number 4 (grocery packers!). I get so anxious every time I’m at the checkout because I’m never fast enough! :O And yes, I also get the grumbles and sighs when I’m not finished and the next person is impatient.

    From my home town (Cape Town, South Africa) I miss the sea, beaches, and the South African accent. Sigh.

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    1. Hi! I can imagine how much you miss that, I grew up in a landlocked area, but we moved from an island, I don’t miss the beaches too much, but I do miss the seafood. Thanks so much for stopping by! 🙂

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  6. Oh my gosh. If you still live in Germany, I’m about to change your life (I know you posted this in 2014). They sell the window screens at DM (Drogeriemarkt). They are huge and we have them on our bedroom windows in Berlin. I honestly don’t think I could survive here without them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that would have been a game changer! I had come across a man selling them at a weekend market, but they were outrageously overpriced. Sadly, Italy doesn’t seem to believe in screens either….

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