The other day, I was thinking about all the English food I miss here in Italy. I’ve already written about my love of Cheddar cheese and how much I miss it, but there are lots of other things that British people take for granted and that I can only dream about!
For example, Heinz Salad Cream. The thought of a Cheddar cheese and salad cream sandwich makes me salivate. The last time I ate it was probably two years ago, after a trip to the UK where I stocked up on as much British food products as would fit in the suitcase. And Shreddies. You can buy every other cereal that’s ever been produced here in Italy, except Shreddies. No explanation as to why, they just don’t exist here! We can even get porridge, the original Quakers one, but no Shreddies. Branston Pickle, Bird’s Custard Powder, Lyle’s Golden Syrup, scones with clotted cream… the list is endless.
Fish and chips. Those three words transport me back to Saturday evenings with the family, on the sofa watching Knight Rider, Dukes of Hazard, the A-Team or Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (loved that show!) with a bag of chips on our laps, the strong aroma of malt vinegar wafting around the room (which, incidentally, you can’t get over here either).
Then there’s Marmite. You either love it or you hate it, as the saying goes. Well, I love it. I always asked people to bring some over with them, and would enjoy Marmite on toast in the mornings. Until recently. Now I’d rather have a cappuccino and biscuits for breakfast. However, I did manage to get one of my Italian students hooked on the stuff… I love getting Italians to taste it, they are usually very polite but you can tell they hate it!
There is a chain of shops in Milan that sells English and American food products, or you can order them online, but at extortionate prices. But if the craving should ever get too much…
Another thing I miss a lot is Cadbury’s chocolate. You cannot find it anywhere here in Italy. What? I hear you cry. You live in Italy, the home of Perugina, Ferrero, Caffarel, Switzerland is just around the corner, there are Lindt shops everywhere. Yes, it’s true, Italian chocolate is good, really good. But it’s not Cadbury’s. Those Dairy Milk bars, Creme Eggs, Flakes… all missing here in Italy. I substitute with Lindt – which, I must admit, is a pretty tasty substitute!
Imagine going to your favourite supermarket and half the products you usually buy are missing. And not just once, but every time. You tend to obsess over them, you build up this sensory image of them, and when you do actually find them, it’s like you’ve been on a desert island for years and suddenly found civilisation again. Yes, you can find substitutes, but they’re never as good (at least in your own mind) as the real thing.
What about you? Do you live in another country? What typical foods do you miss from your home country? Or even when you’re just on holiday!