5 Things I’m Loving in the US

Family
Besides my wonderful family!

Before visiting the US I always make a quick list of what I want to do and, more importantly, what I want to eat. Some of the choices (like clam chowder and bagels) are predictable and respectably deserving of anyone’s “need to eat while home” list. Other things (such as buffalo chicken tenders with blue cheese and roast beef and pickle sandwiches) are simply strange cravings that occur on the spot. I spent last week in the US my parents’ house enjoying a week off with family. I played princesses with my niece and snuggled my baby nephew. I went to dinner with my parents, and grocery shopping with my sister.

And in doing these small, insignificant daily tasks, I realized some things (apart from my strange choices in food) that I really enjoy about the US. Some (as expected) are food related, but others are simply little details I noticed this time around. Let me know if you have any to add!

Socializing in the home

I love going out, but sometimes staying in with friends and family is even better. Going over to a friends for a cup of coffee or popcorn and a movie can be much more relaxing than a local café, and I love inviting people over and getting to entertain. Since I love to cook, it’s fun to organize a dinner or get together related to food, and the relaxing atmosphere found only in someone’s home is special. Americans love to socialize in their homes, often buying grills, patio furniture, and building open kitchens just to do so. While I love that many Spaniards “live in the streets”, a little home time would do everyone some good! Luckily, here in Madrid we have a great mixed group of friends who love the Spanish and American ways of spending the weekend.

Bellas Birthday
My niece Bella shows off the homemade desserts at her birthday party at my sister’s house. 
anthony
Prince Anthony (my new nephew) was also at the party.

Good pub food

Fried pickles with remoulade, spicy buffalo wings and blue cheese, homemade mozzarella sticks, Rhode Island style fried calamari; should I stop yet? If you aren’t drooling by now, you simply can’t be human (or have never tried these strange delights)! I love eating healthy, wholesome foods, but every now and then pub food– good, homemade, locally sourced when possible style pub food is just what the soul needs. Match these greasy delights with a refreshing local beer on tap and your problems are solved!

buffalo wings
Yummy buffalo wings with blue cheese dressing, carrots, and celery.

Free wifi everywhere

This was the first time home that I truly noticed wifi everywhere. It was in both airports I flew into, all of the restaurants we visited, in Barnes and Noble book store, at the small cupcake shop near my sister’s house– in short, wifi is alive and well in Massachusetts, something I really appreciated since I didn’t want to spend the money on a data plan for the week. The best thing was that in nearly all places the wifi was unlocked and open, accessible most times without even a password. No one had to write the code on a piece of paper, or repeat it five time. Simple, like it should be by now.

free wifi airport
Free wifi was everywhere this trip, will Spain catch on?

Cheap Asian food

I’ve talked about this before, but in Madrid I really miss cheap Asian food. My sister and I went out for Thai– a whopping $30.00, tax and tip included. Pho, Chinese food, Vietnamese, and even sushi– all available for eat-in or take out at prices that make you pinch yourself after living in Madrid for awhile. And while I will note that you can find very similar prices on Madrid’s menus del día the quality is hardly the same and dinner and take-out prices double or triple! 

Pad Thai Puis
Oh Pad Thai, how I love you!

The variety in the supermarkets

Every time I go visit my family I end up at the supermarket at least once. I wander aisle by aisle, staring at the products stacked neatly on the shelves. Our local supermarket (a Market Basket) has everything from Spanish membrillo (quince jelly) to Brazilian yucca flour and Thai rice noodles. I picked up two hot sauces on my visit– a Jamaican scotch bonnet one and my favorite Mexican one, El Yucatero. The variety available in the average supermarket is simply astounding, and it makes me almost proud that where I come from is home to so many diverse backgrounds and cooking styles. I also get jealous that in small Sutton, Massachusetts my sister could prepare a recipe with less trouble than I could here in a European capital!

US supermarket
You’ve gotta love the variety at your average US supermarket.

I was only home for a week, and in between treasure hunts and playing dolls, didn’t have time for many more cultural observations. But I’m sure you guys have plenty– what do you love about the US when visiting home?

Check out:

15 Things I Miss About the US When in Spain

15 Things I Miss About Spain When in the US

 

Photo Credits: rickWesley Fryer, stevendepolo

Comments

  1. I miss home entertaining as well, as much as I love the lifestyle here. Every time I go to a grocery store back home, I feel overwhelmed by the options! I miss being able to go to the store and get groceries and over the counter meds like ibuprofen without having to make a special trip to the pharmacy.

  2. The diversity and variety of food! Maybe it’s because I’m living in relatively tiny El Puerto, but even small cities in the US have a crazy amount of restaurants – Indian, sushi, Thai, Chinese, Greek, Italian, Mexican, breakfast places, take-out, fast food, slow food, farm-to-table, fancy, casual, seafood, barbecue. And don’t even get me started on brunch… When I go back to the States, I make a strategic food schedule, so that I can try to fit it all in. Even better when I can go out to eat with family and friends I haven’t seen in months!

    1. Oh gosh you live in El Puerto? That’s Ale’s hometown! I completely understand your frustration– very limited cuisine out there. Luckily in Madrid brunch is a big deal and there is quite a bit of variety, but I remember living there and thinking finding a mango in the Macro was exotic. How long have you guys lived there? We should meet up someday when we are down visiting!

  3. First, the little Anthony is the cutest!
    When I’m back in the US I like to get outside in the forests and beaches. Spain has fantastic forests and beaches too, of course, but they are not quite the same.
    The supermarkets are a mixed bag. Like you said, it’s so great to the variety of foods from different cultures. But at the same time it’s all a bit overwheleming. Does that happen to you?

    1. Thanks Maria, he is so cute in person too! Where are you from in the US again? I love getting out to the beaches and mountains here, but haven’t really explored many different areas in the US (Massachusetts beaches are gorgeous but cold!). As for the supermarkets, definitely overwhelming! I guess I just like the option of variety– but when I went with my sister I wandered around like a zombie, and didn’t actually buy anything!

      1. I’m from Oregon so often I miss our tall green trees and damp forest floors, and the windy, deserted beaches.
        But I did think of another thing today, besides Chinese food, that can be hard to come by in this area (Galicia) – pizza! Of course there are pizza places but the good ones seem to be few and far between.

  4. Damnit, you made me want to go to Buffalo Wild Wings now for some wings (Asian Zing sauce) and a pint of Killian’s Irish Red.

    Good list, very good list, also kind of surprise’s and disappoints me that they don’t have the kind of variety that we do. I think a lot of Americans under appreciate the United States and overestimate how much better other places (especially Western Europe) are.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

    1. Haha– go! The lack of variety makes sense, while there are many immigrant groups I would say that Spain as a whole is far from a nation of immigrants, as we often refer to the US. Most of the time I don’t mind, but when looking at an incredible (American) food blog where they make black rice and Asian spring rolls and a pear cocktail I think, damn it– I can’t make that because I don’t know where I’d find half of the ingredients! But then again I have incredible wine at a fraction of the price and cheap bars and tapas… it’s all relative!

  5. That’s exactly what I was afraid of – Asian is not really the same as in the States. Thanks for confirming it. I must have been Asian in a previous life because I love the food. However, I have been very reluctant to try it when in Spain.

  6. When I was studying abroad in Spain I definitely missed the spicy food of the US and the sheer variety of options. Odd as it may sound, I really missed bratwurst. Since I’ll be leaving in this fall to teach in Spain I’m trying to get my fill of everything now. That’s not to say that I’m not looking forward to the wonders that are the Spanish cuisine.

  7. My boyfriend is from Spain and the things he always has on his list when he comes to visit the USA are: burgers, beers, and wings! And I agree about the cheap Asian food, every time I get some in Spain I can’t help but think I could get this for much less at home.

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