Expats are often asked what we miss most about our home countries. For me, home is the United States, affectionately called "The States," and as you may have guessed, there are a lot of things there that we just don't have here in the Bel Paese.
Some of them I most certainly can do without (see yesterday's post for an example), and there are always the obvious answers like "hugging down my niece and nephew." But aside from friends and family, here are the:
Top Ten Things I Miss From The States
10. Comedy. I love me some Aldo, Giovanni, and Giacomo, but nothing and no one can replace the daily dose of Conan, Dave, and Jon that I've had to learn to live without. Thank goodness for Youtube. They're starting to do their own version of SNL here, though. It's...um...interesting.
9. Diet Coke. There's some concoction here called "Coca-Cola Light." Same kind of swirly writing on the bottle, but someone forgot to share the secret recipe. On the bright side, I don't drink soda any more, but that would all change if the real Diet Coke (or Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, or Sunkist) made the leap.
8. Fast food. I'll admit it. I miss the occasional Wendy's bacon double cheeseburger or Chick-fil-A's chick-n-strips with Polynesian and Honey Mustard Sauces. There is a McDonald's near me, of course, but I've only eaten there once in three years (tastes pretty much the same as in the States, if you're wondering). In this entry, I'll also throw in ethnic food generally--Chinese, Greek, Indian, Thai, whatever. I don't live anywhere near a city, so it's rough going. But I know a good Italian place....
7. Ice. No, not on the stuff on the road--the stuff that makes our drinks refreshing. Many Italians are averse to anything either extremely hot or extremely cold (interferes with digestion!), so it's quite a chore to find ice in public places. Making it at home, of course, is no biggie so long as you can find ice trays or the strange little bags that are perforated in circles for just this purpose.
6.Cheddar cheese. Go ahead and tell me that I live in the land that makes some of the best, most delicious cheeses in the world--mozzarella, ricotta, provolone, pecorino romano, parmegiano reggiano. I know, and I love them all. But what am I supposed to put on chili or nachos? Uh huh. Now you understand. But then again, there's no sour cream here either. Tragic, I know.
5. Peanut butter. They just don't do it. I don't know why. They have peanuts, and they make Nutella, so it seems like a logical leap to me. Oh, have I explained the dangers of using American logic in Italy yet? Take this as your first warning.
4. Professional & College Sports. Major League Baseball, NFL, and March Madness are the big three for me. Yes, there's "football" here too, and I can enjoy a match every now and again (say, for the World Cup)--but there's nothing like calling off work just to watch a whole day of college hoops. That's some good stuff right there.
3. American coffee. By this, I mean, you know, Folger's, Maxwell House, nothing fancy. Again, I'm quite aware that Italy has some darned tasty caffè (take a glance at my blog title if you doubt how much of it I drink), but every now and again I just want a regular ole' (biiiiig) cuppa. Preferably in a thermal cup that I carry with me while walking. *sigh*
2. Regular, lined notebook paper. This is a weird one, I know, but as an old-fashioned writer, I treasure old-fashioned notebooks. I hanker for just one Mead Five-Star (turquoise blue cover, if possible). Here the children write in booklets that contain what we'd call graph paper. I suppose this is good for penmanship, but the last time I used graph paper, I was plotting points, and that didn't go so well.
And the number one thing I miss from The States:
1. U.S. Customary Units. These are things like inches, feet, pounds, ounces, Fahrenheit. Remember in 4th grade when your teacher told you that the Metric System would be all the rage, and you'd be left in the dust if you didn't learn it? Yeah, I didn't buy it either. In the words of Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman": "Big mistake. Huge."
Now I'm not going to say that this is a Christmas Wishlist per se, but if you happen to have an "in" with a certain jolly fella in a big red suit, whisper a lil' something in his ear, would you?
Because I could *really* go for a Dunkin' Donuts' coffee, extra cream, no sugar right about now.