Did you know this is the stuff you’d miss most?

April 30, 2008

Oreos, Nacho Cheese Doritos, Goldfish crackers, Graham Crackers, many cold cereals, Pop Tarts, Nutter Butters, Relish, French’s Yellow Mustard, Cranberry Juice, Iced Tea, Swiss Miss, Marshmallows, Kraft Mac & Cheese, Cornbread mix, etc

This is a list of what is for sale in a typical “American Specialty Foods” store in another country.  A store that caters to expatriated Americans willing to pay about 5-10 times the normal price for these items just to have a taste of home.

I first saw one of these stores years ago on a business trip to Stockholm.  I was with my boss, a fellow American, and we just stared dumbfounded into the window and he said to me “can you believe this is what you’d miss if you left America?”  Very prophetic of him.  He, of course, did not leave, but I did.  I have been in France for 4 years now, and while my US shopping list gets smaller each year (as my tastes change or I find decent local sources or substitutes) there are certain things that you just gotta have from time to time.

I’ve never been a fast food person, so McDonald’s doesn’t give me an “at home” feeling like it does for some ex-pats.  But Starbucks does, and Starbucks is now all over Paris, so for a few euros I can feel like I’m back in the States for a few minutes.  Our friends and family come to visit loaded down with Celestial Seasonings Tea, Tabasco, Chili Powder, Taco Mix, Q-Tips (the real ones!), low-fat microwave popcorn and sometimes if I’m really lucky, Kashi Heart to Heart cereal…  And sometimes we buy items from the local American Specialty Foods store.  Where I am horrified by the prices and pseudo-American brands (often they are not the real US brands) so I tend to be very choosy.  My DH is an impulse shopper in general and when he goes to this store without me is also trying to make me happy, and his passage can make the shopkeeper’s month.

As it did yesterday when he came home loaded with Dr Pepper, cranberry juice, Goldfish crackers, Swiss Miss, Rice Crispy Treats, etc.  Actually, all of the above are for him and my DSS – none of those are my favorites.  He did get me H&H bagels, however (flown in from New York City) and a package of Philadelphia Cream Cheeese… and that, my friends, was dinner.  I couldn’t resist.  He had left the bagels too long in the car and they had defrosted, so re-freezing wasn’t an option, and as we’re going out of town for 4 days tonight I didn’t want them to spoil, so… I only had one (okay, that’s not saying much – they are HUGE).  And only one half w cream cheese (okay, confession : the other half with butter).

Still, I could have made a lot of other lousy choices last night, and I didn’t.  I did eat a ton of veggies too, and I took no dessert (not even the little pack of Hershey’s kisses he brought me).

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