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When I asked the German flight attendant for ice water, he responded, “One U.S. drink, coming up! You Americans think you are healthy, but your drinks are very unhealthy. You drink everything so cold. Sometimes, even your red wine!”
It was the first time in my life I had been told that ice water was unhealthy. I refrained from pointing out that he hails from a country where pork is served for three meals a day, plus snacks; and sometimes that pork is raw. If anything cold is unhealthy, raw pork tops the list.
Because of hubby’s work, we will often be in another country for several weeks at a time. Even the best international cuisine can become wearisome after a while, and so we find ourselves longing for a menu that includes staples from the good ol’ USA.
There are restaurants that serve “Amerikanisch” style food, but just as Chinese tourists probably cringe at our authentic “Chinese” buffets, and nobody living in Mexico has ever eaten a taco remotely similar to the ones served at Taco Bell, international versions of American food also fall short of the real thing.
And so, the great grocery hunt begins. Germany was the third in a string of countries that hubby recently visited, so it had been a while since he had eaten “normal” food. One morning, he got a hankering for French toast with a side of crispy bacon. Bacon in other countries is always a chewy, pink, choking hazard. Even if the restaurant uses the word “crispy” on the menu, I will still be able to flap it around like a deflated whoopee cushion. Not that I would do that sort of thing in public.
After we had procured a pound of see-through bacon (hubby asked her to slice it thicker, but getting exactly what you want is only an American thing), the next step was finding ingredients for French toast.
We headed to the spice rack, in search of Cinnamon and Nutmeg. After using our finely honed powers of deduction, we concluded that Zimt was cinnamon, and Muscatnuss was Nutmeg. We would not know for sure until we opened the packages.
Our next endeavor was to find Maple syrup. We searched the breakfast food aisle, the condiment aisle, the baking aisle, and because Germans do weird things, we checked the pickle aisle. On our way to the cash register, we happened by the all-natural foods display, and spied something called Ahornsirup.
“What do you think?” hubby asked.
“These bottles say Grade A and Grade C, so if it’s maple, it’s the real thing.”
The problem is, and my apologies to those who own a Sugar bush, we don’t care for pure maple syrup. On any given day, we will choose an eighty-nine cent bottle of maple-flavored syrup over the pure stuff. We are tacky that way.
I really wanted hubby to have his French toast so I walked six blocks to two other stores. I even found an authentic Aldi which every American knows is the place to buy cheap syrup. I found all sorts of alcohol, an assortment of Trader Joe’s snacks, and something kind of scary called Oma’s Backstub, but no maple syrup.
At the final store, I was ready to call it quits when something caught my eye; a random display decorated with red, white, and blue stars and stripes. I felt my pulse quicken as I eyed Betty Crocker cake mix, Jack Daniels BBQ sauce, and “American Cream” flavored potato chips. There, next to the All-American hot dogs in a jar, sat two bottles of Griffin’s pancake syrup direct from Oklahoma.
I texted hubby, “Start breakfast! I have fake syrup!”
He was so excited he met me at the door with a glass of chilled red wine. Such a fruitful shopping expedition deserves to be toasted with a U.S. drink.
Ginger is an author, speaker, and mother of five. Find her on Facebook (Ginger Truitt-Author) or Twitter (@GingerTruitt) or contact her at email@example.com.