In less than 48 hours, I’m going back to the States for the first time in over 6 years! It’ll be a short stay (practically a fly-by), but I’m looking forward to seeing my sister, and my nieces who were kids when I left but who are now twenty-somethings with jobs and boyfriends and cars! And my nephews, who have also grown a bit since last time I saw them :)
Aside from seeing my people, one of the things I’m most looking forward to is eating American food! There may be differing opinions on which American foods expats miss most, but ask any expat what they miss about home, and food is pretty much always near the top of the list. Last time I came back from visiting the States, I remember lying awake one particular night because I couldn’t stop thinking about Red Robin. My cultural connection to food runs deep, and facing an undetermined period of time without Red Robin was enough to keep me away pretty much all night… I’m so not proud of this.
Since I’ve shared over 120 recipes on my blog over the years, I thought it would be fun to share the five things I’m most looking forward to eating in the States… or five American foods expats miss. This list doesn’t include the things I’ve demanded from my sister’s kitchen, like her OMG so good grilled cheese sandwiches (with white American cheese from the deli counter). She makes the best grilled cheese… I used to ask her to make me one before Thanksgiving dinner, they’re that good :) Or grocery store things, hello… soft pretzels, Little Debbie brownies, Hostess apple pies, York Peppermint Patties, Butterfingers, Lucky Charms, Golden Grahams, tater tots! Or things (or places where) I may or may not eat like Long John Silver’s hush puppies, Subway, Baskin Robbins, or Cheesecake Factory.
So without further delay, here are five places (and things) I can’t wait to eat later this week :)
Five American Foods Expats Miss (or I do, anyway)
1. Pizza Joints
The kind that sells calzones, grinders (as they’re called in my old neck the woods), awesomely greasy pizza that’s cut into squares, and possibly French fries and onion rings. We’ll probably have to hit this one twice so I can cover all bases since I’m already unable to decide between pizza, a calzone, an eggplant parm grinder, or a toasted meatless grinder with extra oil & vinegar.
2. Taco Bell
A relic of my misspent youth, and possibly a huge disappointment since I’m used to eating actual unprocessed whole foods these days, but my sister has promised to bring me straight from the airport to Taco Bell! Rumor has it that the cheesy bean and rice burritos and caramel apple empanadas are still on the menu… I can’t wait :)
3. Red Robin
As I mentioned above, this has actually kept me awake at night! Living in a place where the number of vegetarian options on most restaurant menus is between zero and one, being able to have any burger on the menu made as a veggie burger is heaven. The unlimited fries are just a bonus! I see a Whisky River Barbecue Gardenburger and a couple of baskets of fries with campfire sauce in my near future. It’s a shame I’ll be too early for a gingerbread shake.
4. Chinese Buffets
Love it or hate it, I haven’t been able to find American-style Chinese food in Denmark, so the obvious choice is the one place I can go and sample pretty much every kind of Chinese food imaginable. I just hope that some of it is vegetarian, or I’m gonna be eating a lot of fortune cookies!
5. Dunkin’ Donuts
My sister has warned me that I’m going to be sorely disappointed, but after 7+ years in a place where jelly donuts (“Berliners”) are my only choice, and flavored coffee doesn’t exist, I’ll take my chances. I’m looking forward to a French Vanilla coffee with half-and-half and sugar, a glazed, and a chocolate frosted. Once I admit that she’s right, she’ll take me to a real bakery (for good donuts) or her bagel place (for a raisin bagel with strawberry cream cheese). And one of my nieces is a Starbucks barista, so that’s my pumpkin spice latte fix sorted out. I’m in that camp.
And there’s apparently a whole bunch of other awesome things that have opened since I left (Moe’s?) that I have to try. And I’ll finally get to see what cookie butter is!
My sister loves thrift shopping as much as I do, so we’re taking a short road trip with a heavy emphasis on eating and treasure hunting. We’ve booked a hotel with an old school diner next door :)
I’ve had a ton of things shipped ahead to her house but I’m so out of practice with American-style shopping that totally forgot to use ebates and missed out on getting cash back! How annoying! It’s been so long since I last visited the States that some of the products I wanted have been discontinued (like St. Ives whipped silk moisturizer and Old El Paso gordita kits)!
I’m so looking forward to spending some time with one of my most favorite people in the entire world! Autumn is my favorite time of year and there’s no better place to be than in New England… and there really is no place like home :)
I’ll be Instagramming from the States… I’d love for you to follow me here :)
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miss apple abroad says
wow! those are totally different than mine! I don’t crave Ameican fast food and even stopped drinking Dunks coffee a year after I moved abroad (don’t tell or they won’t let me back into MA!) but I do miss…
An omelete from a mom and pop greek diner with a botomless cup of coffee
Annie’s shells and cheese from a box
Cheese-its or really any bright orange fake cheese food
fresh fish and shellfish
In six years, I’ve learned to cook pretty much everything I was missing, so junk food is about the only thing left to miss. I’m totally with you on bright orange fake cheese food… I’ve just added Cheese-Its to my list, thank you :)
I don’t even think I’ve ever had Red Robin, so you’re on your own there :-)
I think my one big miss is proper NY style wedges, chock a block with thinly sliced good cold cuts and a pickle on the side.
Now I’m salivating just thinking about it.
OMG! Pickles… yes! They only have sweet pickles in Denmark and I’d almost kill for a whole half-sour or a proper dill!
So? You’ve pretty much nailed my favorites. Like, call me. We’ll do lunch. you have great taste in food. Taco Bell is within walking distance from my work. Their “box” is the best value and it changes often so there’s variety. Enjoy your time in the states, and order something great for me! Enjoy!
Thanks, Julee… I’m very much looking forward to it, though after so many years away I’m not quite sure what to expect! btw… you have great taste, too :)
I live in the States, and I can’t remember the last time that I went to any of these. lol We recently gained a Red Robin near me, but I have yet to try it out. I will have to try it soon after hearing your praises of it.
Taco Bell aside, I rarely ate these things when I lived stateside. They were more of a treat than a habit and after 6+ years, I’m ready for a few days of non-stop treats!
Melissa Dixon says
I have moved around a lot as a kid but never out of the country. I could not imagine how many things I would miss but I am sure it would be a lot! Your list is things I come across everyday and just reading their names made me miss them and I frequent them all! I love the idea of missing something though, it is good for the soul to desire things that we would usually take for granted.
Sapphire Kharyzma says
It’s safe to admit, I agree with your list, minus #1 (I don’t eat meat). I went Red Robins over the weekend, for the first time. I fell in love with their fries. I must try their BOCA Burger, as I didn’t like the Garden Burger, however!
Oh yum. I love all of these except Taco Bell. LOL I think I would miss TGIFridays the most. I love their Strawberry Fields Salad. SO GOOD> I think DQ blizzards too! YUM!!!! This is a fun post.
Ali Rost says
I read not long ago that thrift shopping isn’t very much of a thing outside of the U.S. Is it true? Admittedly, I can never resist a good one and always come home with treasures that my husband wonders what in the world I’m ever going to do with. Although he never says as much out loud. (I love him extra for that) x
Sounds like a lovely trip. Hopefully next time a big longer. I have a friend who visits us each year from England and we make this food list. On it: Buffalo Wild Wings, Red Robin, Steak and Shake and always Donuts! He prefers Krispy Kremes though. I know your sister and nieces will be so happy to see you! Safe travels.
Tina Butler says
I pretty much cook everything for my family most from scratch but occasionally it is semi homemade. We don’t eat our too much but when we do it is usually pizza or chinese food. I love dunkin donuts and red robin burgers. Safe travels on your visit.
Lena Burkut says
WOW! You are seriously missing out on some great stuff! Well, maybe not The Red Robin, but everything else perfectly fits into my family favorite food picks. I only go to the Chinese buffet once or twice a year, but I love every minute of it!
Marie Gizelle says
I can relate, although I’m not into food of my home country a lot…there are still some that I miss…Dunkin Donuts are like mushrooms in Berlin,…well, mostly in Germany, so whenever I got the chance then, I buy 2 dozens and bring them back to homebase…but they’ve recently opened here so I’m ok…
Have fun and eat to your heart’s desire, so to say! (People who love food are the best people, remember.) ;)
Aileen Adalid says
You just made me remember how I missed some of my hometown comfort food as well when I moved to Belgium. There were just so many things that I missed that I can’t just source from the local Asian store. Haha. It’s really fun to read this post! Brings me a whole dose of nostalgia.
Matt Bruce says
I really like Taco Bell and Dunkin’ Donuts. Both are my favorites.
Oh, I know! My husband is English and we go over a few times a year :)