Top 10 Things I Miss from the States

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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.

*Updated to add that I have seen peanut butter here–for 5 euros for a container smaller than my hand.

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 caffรจ (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.

13 Beans of Wisdom to “Top 10 Things I Miss from the States”
  1. Anonymous

    I miss coffee as well. Starbucks has become my favorite but I also enjoy Dunkin Donuts. I take mine light no sugar! How about some cranberry juice or molasses to make cookies?

    Enjoyed your blog. I hope to put one up as well in 2007.
    Sharon in Sicily

  2. Jennifer

    I hear ya on the coffee, lined paper (what is up with the squares in all their notebooks?) and comedy. I always miss the cultural references.

  3. Shan

    I thought no cheddar or sour cream was bad enough, but peanut butter and ice. That’s too much to ask of one person.

  4. sognatrice

    Sharon and Jennifer, just wondering, do you two get flack for missing American coffee like I do? And I’m talking from Americans who visit!

    Sharon, you’re very right about the cranberry juice and molasses…and then there’s light brown sugar, baking powder…this is why packages are always *so* exciting to receive. Make sure you send me a link to your blog when it’s up!

    Jennifer, two words: Zelig’s Circus. Seems great (lots of people hysterically laughing), but, um, I just don’t get it.

    Shan, thanks for your continued support. We really suffer over here ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Anonymous

    I really miss Diet Coke too! PLus now there’s a new one, COke Zero, that tastes even better. My (italian) husband got addicted to it in NZ and grumbles about the stuff here. Last time in the UK i bought him a small bottle of coke zero(had to go in check through bags due to new restrictions)and my sister who was visiting drunk it as was in the fridge and of course she didn’t know it was ‘special’!!!! Lots of evil glares from G after that.
    SOmetimes I buy cola-light or even pepsi light but it’s not the same. on the plus side, i find the fizzy water v nice, much better than drinking coke anyway….

    I don’t mind the metrics but get annoyed with the comma instead of the point ie 3,2m instead of 3.2m. V confusing!!

    Vanessa in Messina

  6. Ann

    Thanks for the comment on my blog. For sour cream, can make homemade stuff, tastes pretty darn close to the “real thing”, take a carton of panna di cucina, place in a glass gar along with some lemon juice and salt and let it sit in the fridge for a day or two, then you’ve got it!

  7. sognatrice

    Vanessa, still haven’t tried Coke Zero–and *excellent* point on the commas. Very confusing indeed.

    Ann, thanks for the tip; I’ll definitely have to try it ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Maggie

    So funny. I hear you 100%. My “P” refers to American coffee as “black water” and even refuses to get espresso here in the states. He’s learned to love chai tea though…odd.

    The nearest Japanese restaurtant to where I’ll be living in Otranto is 120km away…

    I love Italy–but it is sooo Italian!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. sognatrice

    *Maggie, your last sentence really sums it up perfectly ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Rachel

    Jeans! Jeans that fit! Jeans that fit and are measured in inches! Jeans that come in different lengths as well as waists (as opposed to just buying 36 length and getting your mom to hem them for you). That’s what I miss.

    I hear you Rachel!

  11. Rachel

    Oops, that’s on the wrong page. I’m going to put it on the right page now.

    Hey, here you are! Thanks for stopping by ๐Ÿ™‚

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Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

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