How to Make an American Expat in Italy Happy

Show her a store (hello Lidl!) where she can buy:

Expat booty on Flickr

  • Sour cream and onion chips
  • Apple juice
  • BACON!!!!
  • Orangish cheese slices great for melting
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Sweet pickles
  • Baked beans

Can you guess what I had for breakfast the next day?

Eggs, bacon, and toast (for the first time in five years) on Flickr

The bacon is actually, seriously, real bacon–and P loves it (not that I had any doubt). And yes, I did use some of that cheese in my eggs.

The sweet pickles are rather amazing as well. You’ll notice half the jar is already gone. Again, P was a big fan too. Love those Germans!

Speaking of which, can you see that there is a little plastic ring near the lid of the pickle jar? It’s a contraption that lets you pull up the pickles and leave the juice behind so you don’t have to stick your fingers or a fork inside to try to fish out the “cornichons.” How cool!

The baked beans are good, but I have to doctor them up like Mom taught me to get them *really* good with ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, maple syrup (all of the above sent from Mom as Heinz and French’s are simply the best and the latter two are exceedingly hard to find here).

Also? I didn’t realize how much I missed apple juice until I had a glass of this stuff. YUM! I have no idea why it’s not made here, but it’s a dang shame.

Oh and the cookies and chips are good too–neither are my favorites so I wouldn’t even normally buy them in the States, but I couldn’t resist when I saw them at Lidl.

Expats, share your “found food” experiences please!

And for expats and non-expats alike, what foods make you as happy as this has made me?

46 Beans of Wisdom to “How to Make an American Expat in Italy Happy”
  1. Gil

    Apple juice, it must be your generation! Good to hear about happiness!

    I’m really not a big juice drinker, but I always got apple juice in a diner with breakfast 🙂

  2. W Pancetta affumicata a fette!

    I think, when I do expatriate, I’ll need to set up a connection for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. And cheesesteaks. I couldn’t even get a good cheesesteak in California.

    Heh. You said “expat booty.”

    I knew you’d catch that, and yes, you have pinpointed two major downsides to life in Italy (or, in the case of the cheesesteak, outside of Philly) 😉

  3. Wow! it never occurred to me that those items would be difficult to find over there.

    it’s funny the things we take for granted.

    happy new year!

    It’s strange the things you miss too…seriously I probably ate sour cream and onion chips maybe twice in the last five years I was in the States, and yet I *had* to have them when I saw them in the store here….

  4. awedree

    Mmmmm…..yummy! Hmmm…for me…CHIPS AND SALSA, baby! All the way!!! BTW the baked beans concoction you mentioned sounds delicious. I’ll have to try it myself!

    I’ve been meaning to post that recipe for a while…you can make them from scratch with the beans of your choice, tomatoes, and onions, but starting with them from the can is much faster 🙂

    As for the chips and salsa, in the past few years it’s become easier to find chips, but the salsa…not so much, and I’ve been told it’s awful when you can find it. Luckily it’s easy and tasty to make yourself though 🙂

  5. So what’s the deal with the food over there? Why don’t they import more of the stuff if there is such a demand for it? Is it just because your village is small? Are the things you are looking for available in bigger cities? Please fill me in on the whole food situation – I’m very curious.

    Salena of The Daily Rant’s last blog post..Don’t Look At Me Like That. No, Really. Don’t. You’re Making Me Melt.

    OK first of all, you need to get rid of the whole capitalist mentality, supply/demand, all that good stuff…that’s just not how things work here in many instances. People often do (and eat) things just because they always have, period. Change takes a *long* time…although the newer generations seem to be *much* more receptive to doing things differently, at least from my perspective.

    That said, American food has been making inroads into Italy for better or worse (McDonald’s is even in Calabria)…and “foreign” stores are definitely more common in larger cities. I hear even brown sugar like we know it is starting to become available in Rome when just a few years ago, that was unheard of.

    Keep in mind, too, that the number of foreigners (I’m thinking English-speakers like Americans, Canadians, Brits, Aussies) in all of Calabria is ridiculously small compared to other parts of the country, so there *really* hasn’t been much of a push to get these things here…but it seems times are changing 🙂

  6. 01.06.2009

    I am jealous of the bacon…it just doesn’t exist here American-style. When I go back to the States I have it every day for breakfast! Maybe that’s why I always put on weight? 😉

    And where can you get cream of tartar in Italy? I suffered a lot the first years I was here, especially for those prepared or semi-prepared foods we so depend on in the States, but I have adjusted my recipes and tastes since being here and now find a lot of what I used to love is actually…pretty gross! When in Rome…

    saretta’s last blog post..SS98

    It definitely takes adjusting to, and yes, creativity is involved…most of the *really* important stuff I’ve figured out a way to recreate, but I was also psyched to find sauerkraut at Lidl (forgot to put it in the photo!)…sometimes you just don’t want to have to make *everything* from scratch, you know? I know you know 🙂

    But yes, I’ve also been appreciating those things made from scratch even more, knowing I’m eating far fewer preservatives and things with names I can’t pronounce 😉 I was lucky, actually, that growing up my mom and grandmother really didn’t use very many pre-prepared things either, so I think I had an easier transition because of it.

    And indeed, tastes do change as well…funny how we adjust!

    But cream of tartar? I have no idea 🙁

  7. 01.06.2009

    Yay for the food you found! I have to laugh over the orangish cheese slices great for melting. There are still some things that are hard to get here in Hawaii also, so I understand how thrilled you must be. Whenever I find something I have had to order or only get when on the mainland, I am always so thrilled.

    girasoli’s last blog post..processione in mare – part of the festival of Sant’ Erasmo

    I think those orangish things are as close to cheddar as we’ll get, so I got two packs 😉

  8. 01.06.2009

    My neighborhood grocery store has a few shelves of American goodies…we don’t buy too much, except for the Oreo cookies. My two little French girls love Oreos!

    poppy fields’s last blog post..Hammam I am

    Mmm Oreos…we got those in supermarkets (and cute ads on TV) probably about a year ago. Paolo loves them too 🙂

  9. 01.06.2009

    Lidl is a German chain. Apple juice is the staple juice in Germany (served normally with half juice/half water). Pickles are also a staple product and eaten in every variety. Chocolate chip cookies have become sort of an international thing, so Lidl has always carried them.

    During Christmas, I always load up on Marzipan Stollen and Lebkuchen from Lidl — their quality is good! Also, they occasionally have a good selection of Asian staples such as coconut milk and different chutneys. I buy their German bread mixes when I am low on whole grain flours — they are good and you can use them in the bread machine.

    I guess it sounds like I crave German products like you crave American ones, Michelle! 🙂 Lidl saves my butt pretty often, to be honest.

    In answer to Selena, there is no real demand for “exotic” international products in small cities in Italy. The expat community is small in comparison to the general population. It would be like if an Italian expected pigs cheeks to be available at Shop Rite in small town America — ain’t gonna happen, because the chances of someone buying it are too small. Plus provincial, small town Italians are not exactly known for culinary prowess. Culinary excellence, yes, but prowess, no. For most of these products, there is some sort of Italian equivalent. Every culture has its own things.

    The only thing I still import from America is Saran Wrap (actually Stretch Tite which fits in to my WrapMaster 2500, a source of great pleasure for me. I love wrapping things and storing them until they become science experiments in the fridge).

    Take a short drive over from our place to Nice and it is a different world. Because there are so many people from ex-French-colonies, there are all SORTS of food products available there that we don’t have here — cheap maple syrup, packed brown sugar, creme fraiche (AHHHHH!!! A SOURED MILK PRODUCT), and all kinds of beans and spices for which there is no demand here.

    Happy New Year Michelle, to you and P and the girlies.

    Diana’s last blog post..A Simple Resolution

    Yes, it’s clear Lidl is German since most things are even written in German, especially the pickles…of which there were at least 10 varieties and I had to choose carefully 😉

    Actually I also drink my apple juice with half water! I do it with all juices, mostly because full juices tend to give me heartburn. I’ve done it as long as I can remember…must come from my mother’s German heritage.

    Lidl also carries great German/Swiss sausages, and yes, I know I’m in the land of sausage in Calabria, but the German ones are just different as I know you know 🙂 And believe me, I got me some sauerkraut too!

    See the thing was, we didn’t even *have* a Lidl until several months ago…the closest was in Cosenza, which is three hours from me, so I used to just drool at all the commercials.

    You have your Saran wrap? Well I still get my aluminum foil from the US. The stuff here is rubbish!!!

  10. 01.06.2009

    I can understand your enthusiasm with all these products. I am also an expat living in Greece and do not find most products we eat in Cyprus. Probably if I lived in Cyprus I wouldn’t even be eating them but when you are abroad you do miss a lot of things but mostly the memories which come with them. I am glad that you found joy recreating some of the food you ate back home.

    Ivy’s last blog post..Kalikantzari and Theophaneia

    That’s so true, Ivy…it’s not necessarily about the taste (although with bacon it definitely is)…there are just some sentimental reasons attached sometimes 🙂

  11. Italian food is great but…

    Oh yes! Let’s here it for bacon, eggs and baked beans (sorry Judith!). Your chosen food items make us English expats happy too! We love Lidl here and luckily there is a store not too far from us. The day we found the bacon was pure celebration in this house!
    Happy New Year to a true American gourmet!

    amanda@A Tuscan View…’s last blog post..Plein air

    Hee hee…see even if we don’t always speak the same *exact* language, we can still agree on eggs, bacon, and baked beans 🙂

  12. Oops! in my excitement about bacon and eggs I managed to spell ‘hear’ wrong!!!:)

    amanda@A Tuscan View…’s last blog post..Plein air

    In my excitement to read about your excitement I didn’t even notice…bacon does funny things to a girl 😉

  13. Love bacon too! They do sell it in “regular” stores here along with apple juice.

    Ikea is good too for certain foods from home.

    That said I don’t really crave anything other than junk food (like Doritos) once in a while.

    I agree with you regarding processed foods. I find I eat A LOT better here and make more things from scratch.

    Closest IKEA to us is Naples…five hours away! But yes, I miss Doritos too. I really don’t crave a lot, but it’s nice to have the option of bacon 😉

  14. 01.06.2009

    Luckily here in Paris you can get pretty much anything you crave from home . . . for a price. The bigger, fancier grocery stores usually have a section of U.S. foods. A couple of things that I find too expensive here and still bring from home — peanut butter, and chocolate chips. And Paul mentioned Reese’s . . that is a candy that one can NOT find!

    We even have a couple of US-product grocery stores; there’s enough of an expat presence to support those as well.

    Sorry to show off that we are so spoiled!

    Well so long as you still don’t get the peanut butter cups, you can brag…but if they come in, I don’t want to know! 😉

  15. Carlo

    Wonderful, Michelle!

    I thought only the Castroni stores in Rome had all my favorite goodies like these (plus pancake mix and Maxwell coffee, natch), now I’ll take a closer look at the Lidl stores, too.

    Can you believe I found fresh PECAN nuts few weeks ago at my veggie grocery store in Albano?? They are a little smaller than what I remembered. The lady told me they are grown, picked and delivered fresh from Basilicata. Wonder if you can find them in Catanzaro?



    I’ve never seen them, but I’m not a big pecan person…I’ll be sure to let Cherrye know she should be on the lookout though! Mmm Maxwell House…I have to get my American coffee flown in 😉

  16. 01.06.2009

    oh, real bacon. we get bacon, but it is not the real stuff.

    I would think I’d died and gone to heaven if I could find flour tortillas – homemade ones. but not homemade by me. and bagels. and cheese. we can get both of those things, but they are a poor substitute for what we are used to. I have a trip back to the states in 6 months. I’m already planning what I’m going to eat!

    monica’s last blog post..have you noticed the countdown

    Oh my goodness the things that look like tortillas here are quite awful…the best I’ve found are actually, weirdly Uncle Ben’s brand, but they’re not widely available. I’d be planning on my Stateside eats too! I’m excited for you 🙂

  17. Tina

    Argentina has like NOTHING imported, ever. But…

    Here in Buenos Aires we have a cookie store owned by an American, called Sugar and Spice. I get my chocolate chip cookes, cantuccini, brownies and all that from them. 🙂 They do a great job with their cookies.

    We also have a grocery store called Disco (I just love the names of grocery stores here) that has Lindt chocolate, barilla pasta (though crazily expensive), Skippy peanut butter (but I prefer Adams 100% natural. However, Skippy will do), and some random things here and there.

    Otherwise if I want something it has to be brought down with a traveler. The two main things I ask for are olive oil (because Argentine olive oil does not fit my high standards, except for one kind called Tittarelli), and Washington or Tuscan wine. And smoked salmon from the pacific northwest.

    Tina’s last blog post..Happy New Year

    Mmm smoked salmon…and brownies? Cool. I miss brownies….

  18. Tina

    Ah, one more thing! I always ask people to bring ground coffee too. Here, they put sugar with the beans before roasting them and it makes very weak, disgusting coffee. In cafes the coffee is wonderful as it’s usually Sedafredo or Lavazza (roasted in Argentina though) or something similar, but coffee in the supermarkets is horrible.

    Luckily, we have Starbucks here now. I don’t like their concoctions when I can get a better cafe con leche in a regular cafe, plus they are outrageously expensive for locals, but at least I can get my hands on ground coffee that doesn’t have sugar added! And that right there is worth it!

    Tina’s last blog post..Happy New Year

    That is so weird about the coffee! And depressing. Thank goodness you found a good source!

  19. 01.06.2009

    I just found your blog and like it! This post made me laugh because only today I splurged and bought some Pringles in honor of Christmas (It’s tomorrow here in Ukraine.)

    I also made a big decision yesterday NOT to buy normal bacon which is hard to find and expensive because it’s imported. (Why bacon is not made in a country in love with all parts of of the pig including it’s raw fat, I still can’t figure out.)

    As an expat, I crave popcorn and chocolate chips most of all.

    I would also appreciate some bagels…..

    Michelle’s last blog post..Winter Photos

    I can’t figure out why they don’t make bacon here either…I mean they make *everything* from pigs! Sheesh…

    Merry Christmas 🙂

  20. 01.06.2009

    When I was in Paris last week, EVERYWHERE had bagels. Bagel sandwiches, not with cream cheese though. I was floored nontheless.

    For me it’s peanut butter, Cheerios! and oatmeal right now.

    We had fried egg sammies last night for dinner, with melty cheese and bacon!!!

    Miss Expatria’s last blog post..New Year’s Eve in Paris

    Yes, I hear you on all those cravings as well…I really can’t figure out the Cheerios thing since they do sell the honey nut version. Weird.

  21. 01.06.2009

    Now talk about great minds – I posted an item on Sunday when we came upon the recently opened Castroni on Via Nazionale. Hmm… Campbell’s Cream of Tomato Soup, the ultimate comfort food:

    I’m Such an Ex-pat!

    And anyone who comes to visit from Canada knows that the price of a room at our place is a jar of Kraft Peanut Butter. An American friend had to ante up Skippy which was fine but…..

    And that bacon… I hope you used the grease to fry up some potato slices?

    Willym’s last blog post..Epiphania II

    Plenty of bacon left to use the fat…excellent point! And I’ve re-added your link (you went to moderation because of it, so I rescued the link part) 🙂 And you are so right about the celery seed (which you mentioned in the other comment as well)….

  22. 01.06.2009

    I had to laugh at this blog post it so reminded me about our life 16 years ago when we lived in Milan. We used to drive to Lugano Switzerland which was about 45 minutes away every other week (I had young kids!) to buy baked beans, REAL hotdogs, American chocolate bars, bacon, Mexican products etc. My husband thought we were nuts but the three women I drove with and I all blamed it on our kids and what THEY wanted, even though we probably would have drove there for these things even if we had no kids.

    We are heading back to Italy to live in Umbria 6 months a year and I am wondering what I will miss from home once I am actually living there now. When we lived in Milan before you could not even buy real antiperspirant, only deodorant. I noticed on my last trip over that the stores now stocked Crest toothpaste, real antiperspirant, and many of the hair and cosmetic products we have at home. No dryer sheets though as most Italian hang their clothes to dry, and I couldn’t find ziploc bags.

    It will be interesting! Thanks for the chuckle!

    Hmmm still no ziploc bags, I’m afraid…definitely one of the things I request from guests 🙂

  23. 01.06.2009

    Quite an American Feast you got there chica!!! I like bacon- but can’t beleive you go gaga over bacon, when you have that pancetta in Italy???!!! Bacon *is* good though- if done right. Not too crispy for me.

    I think I’d be diggin some of those homemade baked beans you got there, too!

    Not an expat- but Nutella sends me over the edge toward bliss 🙂

    Buon Appetito!

    My Melange’s last blog post..Travel Tip Tuesday – Dream Destinations

    Oh Robin…bacon is just…so…bacon. Of course pancetta is fabulous, but it’s just not bacon. Perhaps you can fully appreciate bacon until you can’t have it 😉

  24. 01.06.2009

    I wish I could send you bacon on a weekly basis!
    Bacon is definitely a staple in our house! I make bacon and eggs on the weekend or for dinner sometimes. Sometimes bacon, tomato and cheddar sandwiches with mayo and lettuce! Hmmm…getting hungry. I can’t say that there is anything I can’t get here with all the specialty shops and grocery stores that important so many things now aday. Of course you have to travel here or there (but never more then an hour) and the Italian bakeries are every where, I can even buy my favourite rice balls 5 minutes from home, made by a very nice sicilian baker at Lamana Bakery! I must say though, cafe con panna is something I’ll never forget that tasted like heaven when I was in Rome. I was 11 years old and I went downstairs and out of my hotel to a cafe beside it and ordered one…it was delicious!!! That I can get here but it’s never tasted the same…odd, must be the ambience of the place or the country I was in! Oh how I miss being in Italy period!

    lucy’s last blog post..GUILD INN

    It’s really a shame that we can’t simply will things over the ocean….

  25. maryann

    You can’t get US style bacon in Italy? Who knew? As far as that contraption in the pickle jar..I thought it was for blowing bubbles. 😉
    Fun post, Michelle!

    maryann’s last blog post..Cartellate

    Hah, pickle bubbles…hmm….

  26. lisa

    i’m an expat who has been living here for 25 years
    and i remember in the beginning how hard it was to find USA food and simple everday stuff like deodorants, aluminum foil, mouthwash, bandaids

    thank goodness that “la globalizzazione” has made the world a smaller place
    there are much more things available now(in puglia)
    even though i bother my brother (still in the States) for whatever hasn’t found its way here
    and he doesn’t understand why(since you can find almost anything there)

    you’re right
    things take a loooooooooooooooooooooooong time to change here
    being here a loooooooooooooooooooooooong time has made me realize that

    Hah, you have been here a long time, and way before a lot of these things were even thought of here…you’re a trooper Lisa! The bandaids and aluminum foil here still aren’t very good though 😉

  27. 01.06.2009

    I found that when I in Italy, I really really wanted a bagel and Philadelphia Cream Cheese. I knew the cream cheese was probably never going to happen, but I thought I could find a bagel in Florence. I told my friend about my bagel lust and the next day he proudly handed me a roll…with a hole in the middle. Near the end of my stay there I found a bar (“Anna’s”, so perfectly named) that had a few bagels that were pretty close to the real thing, but not quite. Maybe bagels are everywhere in Italy and I was just unlucky…or maybe they are an elusive delicacy… =)

    Anna’s last blog post..Weekend NYC

    Bagels are still elusive, although now I make them myself…still…would be nice to just go down to the corner and pick some up! We *do* have cream cheese now, though 🙂

  28. 01.06.2009

    The Pringles are very easy to find here in Naples. I’ve also recently discovered that Santal do an “100% mela” juice which is very nice – same as the UK stuff, not sure if that’s the same as the US juice, but I imagine it is. For the beans I must plan a Lidl trip 🙂

    We have other types of Pringles chips in “regular” stores, but I hadn’t seen these sour cream and onions before. I’ll keep an eye out for that Santal, thanks!

  29. 01.06.2009

    Of all the things not available in Italy, it would never occur to me that apple juice was one of them. Weird!

    Stefanie’s last blog post..I suppose I still have a few hours to make that “Soul Mate in ’08” thing happen, but I’m totally not holding my breath.

    Very weird to me too Stefanie….

  30. 01.07.2009

    What a wonderful care package. I am taking my plane back to Italy tomorrow, and I have included some cornbread mix, mapple syrup, chocolate chips, Wonka candy, brownie mix from girardelli’s, some Mac n cheese (don’t tell any Italians, but Nick misses it), graham crackers, and I do not know what else… Happy new year to you and P. Enjoy the flavors from home.

    Beatriz’s last blog post..42 things I will like to do before I turn 43

    Oooh brownie mix and graham crackers sound *wonderful* right now 🙂 Buon viaggio!

  31. 01.07.2009

    I never realized there was such a thing as US-style bacon. Is it the cut they use, the way they smoke it, or the way they slice it?

    Nate’s last blog post..Pandan Chiffon Cake

    Same cut (belly), but pancetta isn’t smoked and is rolled, making those long strips impossible. You can get smoked pancetta here, but it still doesn’t have anywhere near the same bacon flavor. I found this for a quick read on the difference between bacon and pancetta.

  32. 01.07.2009

    That is quite the haul of treats. If only there was cheddar!

    Thought about you last night. The book I’m reading, Diva’s Don’t Knit, has a character who was threatening to move back home to Calabria 🙂

    Shan’s last blog post..maya vs the potty

    Hah! What a threat 😉 And you’re so right about the cheddar….

  33. 01.07.2009

    Hello Michelle

    you have opened the appetite to me
    with these delights…
    Happy New Year for you


    Marco Antonio’s last blog post..Los millonarios también sufren

    Just happy I didn’t make you sick 😉 Happy New Year to you as well 🙂

  34. joanne at frutto della passione

    I’ve been here so long that I remember when all this stuff wasn’t even available in Rome and the Internet was reserved for academics, geeks and the military! Now there are a lot more expat foods available in regular supermarkets (not specialty stores where everything costs the earth). What I can’t get I order on the Internet. There is a site/store in the UK that specializes in Expat foods and ships to Italy (

    joanne at frutto della passione’s last blog post..Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night

    Thanks for the link Joanne; I haven’t been into online shopping since I don’t use credit cards, but now that I have an account with the post office I can finally do some 😉

  35. 01.07.2009

    When I was visiting Italy growing up the craving was always pancakes. American pancake mix wasn’t available there until recently. At that was true in the smaller towns. The bigger cities usually had it all.

    Gennaro’s last blog post..Passport Cards Speed Border Crossings

    Still no pancake mix down here, Gennaro, which is just as well with me, since there’s also no maple syrup 😉

  36. 01.08.2009

    Packaged foods? Packaged foods? Pancake mix when all it is is flour, salt and baking powder? Where have we gone wrong? What is youth coming to?

    Judith in Umbria’s last blog post..Influenza

    We’re lazy 🙂

  37. Cinzia

    When you said how u do baked beans I had to laugh. Not because of you no, because of my husband. During his second week in USA last summer he was almost jumping for happiness at the sight of “fagioli”….after the first taste he looked at me and said “ma, ma che, so’ dolci?!?!” But but, what, are they sweet?

    Yeah, P doesn’t much care for the sweetness in the beans either…in fact I made beans for him today and baked beans for me 🙂

  38. Carolina

    Hi Michelle,
    I know exactly how it feels to find some of those “comforts” of home in the store…I lived in a tiny village outside Cosenza for over ten years and when the “Carrefour” went in, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when I found taco shells, maple syrup, “real” catsup, soy sauce, sweet pickles and other treats in the store! Although I’d adapted many recipes from home for Italian ingredients and had visitors bring over odds and ends on their trips, there was nothing more exciting than stocking up on some of my favorites from home myself! My very Calabrese husband now loves baked beans and brings them back to Calabria every time we visit to share with his family!
    Your posting sure brought back memories of my times in the boot! Thanks!

    Ciao Carolina! Would you believe that Carrefour is still the closest one to all of us down here in the CZ province? I still haven’t been there…that’s why this Lidl was such a godsend 😉 I can’t believe your hubby likes baked beans! I don’t think mine will *ever* come around to those…thanks for visiting and for sharing your experiences 🙂

  39. 01.11.2009


    You know, I would buy sour cream and onion chips from the Autogrills. I occasionally get car sick from too many winding roads, and I find those chips work wonders.

    Happy New Year!


    P.S. Our little Calabria book for Thomas Cook is back from the printers. They emailed me some proofs and I took a quick look – looks okay – we’re not happy with the photos they chose, even though Terry took them – they just didn’t pick the best ones, but what can you do. I’ll let you know when it hits the shelves. I can’t remember if I mentioned, but I did manage to squeeze your B&B in, so fingers crossed it made the cut! 😉

    lara dunston’s last blog post..The Indian Pacific: from ocean to ocean across Australia by train

    Hah, even the Autogrill is kind of far from me 😉 Sorry to hear you’re not super excited about the book, but I’m sure it’s still beautiful. It’s not my B&B, it’s Cherrye’s from My Bella Vita, but I will pass along the news!

  40. 01.11.2009


    Carrefour in Buenos Aires has tonnes of imported products. It’s not as good as our Carrefours in Dubai, which have the widest selection of products from around the globe I’ve ever seen anywhere, but it’s as wide a selection as you’d find anywhere. And of course there’s Chinatown for fantastic Asian products at the supermarkets there.

    For great coffee, I find the Italian restaurants in Buenos Aires are the place to head.

    lara dunston’s last blog post..The Indian Pacific: from ocean to ocean across Australia by train

    Thanks Lara! Will forward this to Tina 🙂

  41. 01.19.2009

    Being here for almost two decades (coming up in March, wow, almost impossible to believe it) it seems to come and go in waves. Both the cravings and what you manage to find normally, rarely, and by just plain chance.
    Now with two daughters, every trip back to the states is a little different.

    Tollhouse chocolate chips have a taste so distinctive that only half of the ones we bring home ever manage to make it inside Cookies. The rest seem to “evaporate” between one baking event and the next. The brown sugar is difficult, but usually digging around “natural” food or “solidarietà” stores (and more recently even at the Coop[Adriatica]) there are raw sugars that are close enough in taste, texture and consistency to light brown sugar, even though they don’t list molasses as an ingredient. Italian Chocolate Chips (I find Perugina at most supermarkets) are good chocolate (who would dare complain about the quality of Perugina chocolate?) but “just ain’t the same”.

    Blueberry muffins. Made from scratch they are too much work compared to the mix which you can just whip up and pour in the paper cups. I’ve switched to making quick fruit breads and pound cakes which are a lot less work than muffins, and how the Italians eat them up, saying the entire time “how badly the Americans eat”.

    Oreos. I know they are all over the place now. But they don’t taste the same, I guarantee it. We’ve had blind taste tests (the coke/pepsi commercials were less tested) with the family and they are easily distinguished, at least by me and the daughters. Only the little “mini-oreos” in the handy reusable American Sized Plastic Cup are good, but still not authentic. And the oreos cost 3-4x more than in the States.

    I (finally) found a local butcher that has a cut of pancetta which if anything, is only a little less salty than “American” bacon. Works fried, great microwaved, can be cooked to crumbling (if desired), nice and fatty… the trick is finding the right one, I think.

    Ziploc’s were here for several years (sold under license to an Italian company, Domopac I think) but then disappeared.

    “Real” maple syrup is either fake tasting or absurdly expensive (I don’t know how that tastes, I never bothered splurging for it), but has become the ultimate gelato topping for the inlaws when over. My sister lives in Maine, so some is usually part of any gift package arriving from her.

    And the kids (who eat any and all pasta here with sauces, sughi, condimenti of all types) still go crazy for Mac&Cheese. Go figure.

    Oh, and I really miss iced tea in restaurants in summertime that is just Iced Tea (no lemon, no sugar, no peach, no fruit nothin’, just tea that has been stewed and iced).

    Thanks so much for this, Jacques. I think sometimes people think we’re being wimps about missing things from home when we’re in bella Italia, but like you said, the cravings come and go…and *yes* there are definitely taste differences in most of the stuff we can manage to find…hello Coke products!

    Congrats on your 20 years in Italy! Now I think I’ll make some blueberry muffins from a mix my mom sent 😉

  42. Well, here in Rome (and northward), snackpack Oreos can now be found EVERYWHERE!! I rejoiced, I despaired…I try to resist…

    I’m guilty of hoarding the Oreos from one of the supermarkets around here. It’s an addiction. I’m powerless!

  43. 06.20.2010

    Bagels? Anyone find bagels in Italy? They were at many highway stops for a while and now?

    Bruce, I believe I’ve heard you can find them a place called Mama’s in Florence and there’s also a place in Milan whose name is escaping me…that said, here’s a great bagel recipe if you want to make your own 😀

  44. Ana

    You can find most of this things like. Bacon, bagel, slice cheese for sandwiches, etc but the problem is THEY ARE NOT THE SAME! There are only 2 varities of bacon here in Italy, smoked and sweetened which neither matches to the american bacon (honey glazed or bacon flavored with maple syrup). yes, they do sell bagels but not as tasty nor the fillings as good as the ones we are used to. They dont sell cheddar cheese here in milan nor do they import such because they have a law here where they preserve local (EU) produce by limiting imports. Sad, but true. I miss sinfully tasty food :/

    michelle Reply:

    It’s called comfort food for a reason, isn’t it Ana? We definitely find out the hard way haha 😉

  1. [...] Not yet being an expat in Italy, I find myself pining for Italian things I can’t get here in the U...



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Pasta with snails alla calabrese
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Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
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Ricotta Pound Cake