Monday, October 4, 2010

Absence Makes the Stomach Grow Fonder

Monday Memories time. This article was written at this same time last year during my first year in France. I still request peanut butter from every guest and after this summer, I'm stocked up very nicely. But the rest of my longed for items, I no longer think about. In fact, the breakfast picture sort of makes me want to gag. Interesting....

This morning I noticed that I am precariously close to scraping the bottom of my jar of Superchunk Skippy. This should really not a cause for panic at this point because I still have one in reserve. But that puts me in the position of…. having only ONE in reserve!  And last night, I discovered I’m only ¼ cup away from the bottom of the bag of brown sugar. That means that chocolate chip cookies are now out of the question.

Whenever I have a visitor I put an order in for products that I can’t seem to find here but really miss. Some I don’t actually even miss, I think I just want them because I can’t have them. When my friend Jeanmarie came to visit, she brought the peanut butter. You can find it here but it’s definitely not the same. It’s sort of a weird blond color, very expensive, sold only in the larger supermarkets that carry foreign food, and the French people just don’t eat it. I do however. As a matter of fact, I practically survived on it for a couple of years and I think my body can no longer survive without it.

When my sister and mother arrived in April, they brought the requested brown sugar, molasses, peanut butter, ground cloves (I can only find them whole) and allspice. Obviously, I wanted to do some baking. Which turned out to be difficult because, in fact, I didn’t have an oven! However, the mansion had one and my new apartment has one too.

After Jeanmarie left, she offered to send a package back to us poor folks in France and asked what we wanted. My friend Tony requested beef jerky and Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing. It was like Christmas when the box arrived and I had to confess to him that I opened his jerky and shared a bit with some friends. They loved it. Of course, I ate my fair share too!

Paradox is a little bookstore in Aix that caters to the foreign community. They carry used books categorized by language but in another room they have foreign food products. There’s a British section, an American section and a German section with a few other assorted ethnic goodies. I imagine they stock the shelves by most requested items. In the American section they carry canned cake frosting, Betty Crocker cake mixes, Aunt Jemima and real maple syrup, pancake mix, Kraft macaroni and cheese, brown sugar, Bush’s Baked Beans, chocolate chips, Jell-O, barbeque sauce and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup (I mean how can a person cook a recipe from the Lutheran Church cookbook without Cream of Something soup?).

There is also a website, based out of Toulouse, called which stocks items that people seem to crave and can't get here in France. I think it’s a great idea…however, I’m not willing to pay 6 euros (about $8.50) plus shipping for a small jar of Jif (I’d consider doing it for Skippy!). Their top sellers, as of today, are Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Pepperidge Farms Cheddar Goldfish, Aunt Jemima cornbread mix and A & W Root beer.

I’m going home at Christmas for a couple of weeks. I have not thought about what I’m giving my family and friends for gifts. But I do know what I’m going to eat. I am going to consume a couple of big American breakfasts with bacon and eggs and hash browns with ketchup…oh yum! I’m drooling on my new keyboard! I will devour a grilled steak at least once and a hot dish made with cream of something soup.  I will scarf down an entire box of Kraft macaroni and cheese in one sitting made with lots of butter and I’ll build big turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with lots of mayo and lettuce, accompanied by some Old Dutch potato chips and washed down with a cold glass of milk.  I’m going to eat a hotdog on real squishy white bun with mustard, ketchup and pickle relish and (please don’t think I’m crazy but I actually love this next item)...

Yeppers...I’m going to fry up some Spam, nice and crisp, and eat it on soft white bread with yellow mustard.

I’m going to go to a Friday night fish fry every single Friday and, of course, I’m going to Mogie's on Water Street in Eau Claire for a big fat hamburger. I will buy baking powder, more peanut butter, cornmeal, Bisquick, polish sausage, and the bacon and I can’t seem to stop talking about. I’ll restock on brown sugar and molasses, and maybe I’ll even bring back some shortening.

And in January I will waddle off the plane in the south of France with my bag of goodies and probably go looking for some fresh mussels steamed in wine and garlic, with a still warm baguette and a lovely salad of avocados with a Dijon vinaigrette followed by a plate of fresh cheeses. You’re welcome to come to dinner!




  1. Dear Delana
    Your posting made me smile, BIG one. I love peanut butter too.
    PB& J to be exact..
    Spam.. yummy, but my hubby being a scientist, we never buy spam.(grrrr) I shall get some tomorrow while he is on business trip.(lol)

    Julie xx

  2. Something I missed for years in France was British fish and chips...with malt vinegar.

  3. Julie-It's possible that you and I are the only women alive that have ever admitted publicly that we like Spam. I can't get it here which is probably just as well.

    Fly-I lived in London in college and when I left, I missed fish and chips too...and yes, the malt vinegar MAKES it.

  4. Oh how I remember this aspect of living in France, even for a short time. Towards the end of my 8 weeks, I was alone in my room. All the other Americans had left the campus to either travel or return to the U.S. I was staying with my then boyfriend. I was a bit lonely and bored and homesick so I made a list of things I missed. I still have the journal with the list.

    Peanut butter

    A culinary nightmare, but those are the things I distinctly remember making the list.

  5. It's amazing what we miss from home!
    I need my Skippy too but I've been lucky enough to find it at two Intermarche's (not sure if you have an Intermarche in Aix). But what I really really need is some good Mexican food and my homemade fajitas just aren't cutting it!

  6. You brought back a grand the 70's, schlepping a suitcase full of Triscuits from Eau Claire to my friend, Trudy, in Paris! The first night we drank duty-free Red Label and ate Triscuits and took her Vespa for a ride under the Eiffel Tower (pre-security)!


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