Expat Shopping Spree - or, things we love about America


My
friend Annabel, accomplished chef, food writer & marketing maven is
coming to Rome. She'll be blogging about her experience [Her past blogs include India: Who's Sari Now? and Tokyo: Vending for your life
- where she left with no suitcase & decided to purchase all of her
necessities from the ubiquitous vending machines which purportedly sell
everything from underwear to electronics and more..]. Needless to say,
the last time she came over, she ended up developing Tex Mex menus for
Dixieland restaurants in Milan, training the kitchen staff to make
Uevos Rancheros and Silver Dollar Pancakes (still on offer, I might add
-- although they probably cost a silver dollar to eat them).

Her arrival sparked in me, however, a little Expat Shopping Spree.
Having not been back to the USA for well over a year, I was in definite
need of things. And, I'm very brand loyal. So, I thought I'd bring you
one of my periodic Public Service Announcements,
for any of you 'across the pond' who come visit us over here. My
brother for one stocks up on yummy granola, kids' toothpaste and
vitamins. This is not to say you can't find the items here (and
Carrefour gets our vote), but, at nearly $12 for a little bottle of
maple syrup, well, it's a lot less trouble to go to www.drugstore.com and let your fingers do the walking (and your friends do the carrying).

So,
here's my short list of things I absolutely, positively, cannot live
without
(it goes without saying that we're talking family-sized
containers
, a concept that has not quite reached the continent):

Maple syrup -- because here it costs more than truffles
Imitation vanilla -- bottles here are sold for a family of lilliputians
Arrid Extra Dry
-- incredibly, boiling hot Europe offers either anti-perspirant or
deodorant, and never the twain shall meet. I won't go into the net
effect of this most outrageous practice.
Brown sugar -- not cane, but soft, packed, thrice-refined, imperative for cookies, brown
Ghirardelli Brownie Mix -- I know a caterer in London who brings it in by the case full -- there is no greater product on earth.
Bisquick
-- for those Sunday a.m. pancakes - and don't let them fool you,
Europeans love American breakfasts if it's put in front of them.
Aveeno lotion -- this is sold here, and prices on toiletries are nearly the same these days, but I still hold out for the family-size
Ditto for Johnson's Baby Oil, Nivea & other sundry items including Aquafresh (which, anyone coming to Europe will find the 'minty' taste has been altered -- turns out, they hate our mint, we theirs).
Starbucks chai tea packs
- they don't sell the loose stuff over here (and thankfully, there are
no Starbucks in Italy -- I think even the Italians will balk at a 4
euro latte)
Brita water filters -- can't find them at those prices over here!
Marshmallows -- just because
Hand-held dish scrubber sponges -- make great gifts too!
Altoids -- they say they come from England, but you won't find them over there (believe me, I've tried!)
Coffeemate & Folgers Instant -- when you want a cup o'Joe that's "good to the last drop" and decidedly not an espresso with lots of water added!

And, for those of you leaving Italy, always pack a huge family-sized Nutella jar, you won't find 'em even that large at CostCo.

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