Thursday, September 20, 2012

Expat Shopping Lists: US and Germany

There's this massive list I make in Google docs before every trip we take to the US that looks a little something like this:

Things to Bring With (for Gifties)

- Beer
 -Haribo (particularly the extra juicy Saftbären)
- Ritter Sport (for Alyssa :)
- Coconut yogurt (I'd bring it for sister if it were at all feasible, she's obsessed with this one!)

Things to Bring Back

- Chocolate chips (multiple kinds)
- Brown sugar (They have now started stocking this in Asia markets in Berlin, but it was on my list for years)
- Canned pumpkin (for our Thanksgiving pumpkin pie)
- Bisquick biscuit mix (for my Thanksgiving broccoli casserole - Gramma's recipe :)
- Ranch dressing packets
- Taco/fajita seasoning packets
- Jeans!
- Target goodies!

If you're an expat, I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about (and have an ongoing list of your own). There's just something about American grocery stores (and, of course, Target!!) that turns me into a complete consumer maniac. That and the fact that, in the past two years, Berlin stores have reverted to mid-90s fashion when it comes to jeans and only seem to sell ones that ensure you show off unflattering muffin top at all times. Which is really unfair, because I'd totally found the perfect Only jeans just 4 years ago, and then they wrench them out of my life...

Our loot from this trip (Ikea frame not included) - my goodies on the left side, gifties on the right (Full disclosure: I did some major damage at the Gap, Old Navy, and Under Armour outlets, too, but am not about to photograph all that madness...)

Living abroad makes you realize - and way overfocus on - the little things you miss from home. Things you could quite easily live without - why would I want canned pumpkin when I can have fresh? I'm sure it can't be that difficult to whip up your own taco seasoning, and cutting up chocolate for chocolate chips is easy peasy and delightfully messy - but find that every now and then, you really just can't. (Usually brought on by reading American blogs or magazines and thinking, dammit! Why can't they just tell me where to find those ingredients/that shirt/that rug in Germany?!) (True story: I once had Natalie order a rug - on sale - for me and I schlepped it all the way back to Germany from her wee apartment in Brooklyn. It was totally worth it.)

Somehow, this is the only picture I could find of that rug. But there it is, in not quite all of its beauty...

Which is why I liked Emily's post (of From China Village) on a similar topic recently - she looked at both things she missed from the US (and could make a fortune importing, which is so true!) and things she'd totally miss if she left Ireland. And because it's so easy to forget how good I've got it here, I whipped up a quick list of my own of things that, if I left Germany tomorrow, I think I'd get just as homesick for:

- Bread: actual dense, dark, non-air-hole-filled, non-squishy, filling and healthy German bread. In countless varieties.
- Dairy: the dairy products here are seriously unparalleled by anything I've had in the US. (Happy cows, as Emily says?)
- Beer: delicious, bitter beer that comes in 0.5l bottles and costs slightly more than 1€ at a Späti (Radeberger, Flensburger, Berliner, and Jever being my top picks).
- Flower prices: every time we order flowers for our family for birthdays or holiday, I nearly choke all over again looking at the prices. Why must a bouquet cost $60 when I can get something even better at my local market here for 12€? It boggles the mind...)

I'd love to hear your list. If just to know that I'm not the only one who gets so giddy at Target that she puts 5 packs of various chocolate chips in her bag and squeals like a schoolgirl on the first day of summer.


  1. man, i love that coconut yogurt...

    1. hehehehehe, only you, sister... you gotta visit again!