First, did I tell you yet that I’m home already? I am. I’ve been home for almost three weeks.
It was such an odd sensation to ride in the car all the way home from the airport on those luxuriously large highways, seeing trucks and SUVs and vans out the window. It was odd thinking, well, I want to buy a few vegetables, some deodorant, and some shoes, and I only have to go into one store… not three different stores all across town from each other. It was odd realizing that I can’t spontaneously take a day trip to Germany or Belgium. Driving my car after three months of walking, biking, and train riding was odd as well; I felt like the whole town was at my fingertips—just a few minutes away. And I just never realized how wonderful driving really is. I mean, there is a trunk in the car for you to throw whatever you need back there instead of having to carry it all on your back or in a tote bag, and there are parking lots everywhere here in the US, so you can drive right up to the store you need and park just yards from the door. And, for me, when I’m driving all alone, it’s one of those times and places for me to think or pray or just have an emotional moment if I need one—when I drive alone, I have my own music, I set my own temperature, and I have my own space and privacy on the road, and that’s something I’ve missed dearly.
Something else I’ve missed more than I realized is southern food. Yes, I missed Tex Mex more than you’ll ever know (I literally dreamed about it three times, one of those dreams being that my mom had some flown in to me in Maastricht… it got a little ridiculous). But I also just missed the deep, rich flavors of southern cuisine. Chicken fried steak with gravy… hot water cornbread with butter… turnip greens … hamburgers and hotdogs (you’d be shocked at what passes for one of these in Europe). But now that I’m home, I do of course miss some of my favorite meals in Europe. Out of all the questions that people ask me other than “How was your trip?” and “What are you doing after graduation?”, the one thing they seem to be most curious about is the food in Europe. “What was your favorite meal?” they ask. And unlike having to stumble around the question of what I’m doing after I graduate in less than a week, THIS is something I love to talk about. So let me just tell you (and show you!) some of my very favorite meals and snacks in Europe.
10. The Netherlands: Sweet Chili Pepper Doritos (I don’t know if the US has these or not, but I discovered them in Europe, and I fell in love!)
9. Belgium: Chocolate (these are lemon chocolates… I don’t have a picture of the best kind.)
8. Spain: Paella, Churros & Chocolate
7. Scotland: Fried Haddock & Chips (Amanda ordered this)
6. France: Lemon Crepe
5. Czech Republic: Roasted pork with cabbage (sauerkraut) and dumplings
4. Germany: Wiener schnitzel and fries (Amanda ordered this. I ordered the picture on the bottom– pork in a creamy pepper sauce– also amazing.)
3. Italy: Napoli Pizza, Gelato
2. Greece: Gyros
1. Ireland: Beef & Guinness Stew (also called Steak & Ale Pie)
One of the most fun things for me that we did in each country was to find a super market and check out their local foods. I loved cruising down the chip aisle to see what all flavors that country considered normal. I was surprised to find these flavors in the markets across Europe:
Cheese & Onion
Bacon & Cream Cheese
Prawn Cocktail (shrimp)
Texas BBQ (all the way in the Netherlands)