That post about being an American in Australia, conveniently written on the 4th of July.

Sorry, it’s not really going to have anything of substance. But it might make you hungry.

So I was thinking tonight about polenta, also known as corn meal. Polenta is, from what I gather, a fairly common ingredient in Italian cooking. I, however, don’t know much about Italian cooking, other than pasta, garlic bread, and parmigiana. And I especially have no idea how people cook polenta around here. So I have some polenta in my pantry, which I mistakenly thought would be suitable for making corn taco shells (it was kind of a disaster), and was wondering what else I could do with it. Corn bread was the first thing that came to mind, of course, because I’m a Yank. And then I thought about corn dogs. Mmmm. It’s been ages since I had a good corn dog – hot dog on a stick, dipped in corn batter and deep fried. Not exactly the healthiest thing on the planet, but they are pretty tasty, especially when dipped in real mayonnaise.

And that’s when I had the idea for this blog post: foods from here and there that I like, don’t like, miss, never had before, never had since…all those kinds of categories. So I’m just going to start listing them in no particular order, just the way I think of them.

And this is a much different list than it would have been seven years ago, because you know what? I’ve adapted to my new culture, not completely, but enough to be pretty comfortable. Plus, there are enough shops around that carry some of my favourite American foods/snacks that I don’t have to pine for them – I just need to go to the right shop when I’m having one of those cravings, and I’m good for another few weeks. Because I know it’s not a ‘forbidden fruit’ or anything, and I can have it whenever I want.

Foods I miss from the States

This one is actually going to be a pretty short list, because of the aforementioned shops that carry American imports. Corn dogs are something I wouldn’t mind having now and then, but since I don’t remember having one in the 7 years I’ve been here, I obviously don’t miss them that much. If I did, I would have worked out how to make them at home by now. However, I still haven’t found anywhere that sells packs of Jolly Rancher candies with ONLY the watermelon flavoured ones. And I don’t suppose I’m likely to.

Little Debbies fit in this category too. I don’t believe I’ve seen them anywhere, and I don’t think USA Foods in Melbourne is allowed to import them, otherwise I’m sure they’d have them by now.

And how can I forget Rocky Road ice cream. I might have to try doing it myself one day.

As for restaurants, there’s Arby’s and A & W. Those are really the only ones that I miss that I’d go back to. And a good buffet restaurant (but not Old Country Buffet because they think breastfeeding is perverted or something. I won’t be spending my money with them anymore).

Foods I never had before moving to Australia that I can’t imagine living without now

I can’t count Tim Tams here, because Darrin once filled an entire suitcase with Tim Tams, Milo, and Cherry Ripes when he came over for Christmas. But you know what does? Fresh mandarins. Prior to moving here, I only ever saw them in a can, never fresh. My brother and I, since we were first learning to read, called them ‘Maynard oranges’ because it sounded funny, and there was a guy at our church named Maynard. Now I have a mandarin tree in my back yard. Hopefully it’ll start fruiting next year.

Chips (fries) from Chicken Chef in Gilles Plains. You have not lived till you’ve had these.

Australian foods that I’m still not game to try

Vegemite. I’m not sure I’ll ever get there. Since Darrin doesn’t like it, and Caleb’s never had it either (to my knowledge), it’s not really that crucial that I deal with it.

Imported American stuff I buy now and then

Dr Pepper
Welch’s Strawberry soda
A&W root beer
A&W cream soda
Reese’s Pieces
Reese’s peanut butter cups
Jelly Belly jelly beans

Typical American foods that I make at home

PBJ (only I use, and have always used, strawberry jam instead of grape jelly)
‘Ants on a toilet seat’ – aka an apple cut in half, core removed, spread with peanut butter and raisins (sultanas) placed on top. Only I usually cut up the apple into wedges and put peanut butter on each one, and don’t bother with sultanas.
Pumpkin pie (especially now that I’ve finally successfully grown pumpkins in my back yard)

Things I’ve found suitable substitutes for

Hershey’s Almond chocolate bars: Cadbury Roast Almond, of course. And Cadbury tastes better anyway.
Cheddarwurst: the mild cheese kranskys from the Pacific Big Butcher in John Street, Salisbury.

It’s a small world, after all

Know what? The dine-in Pizza Hut outside Westfield Marion smells EXACTLY like the Pizza Hut I used to work at in Hudson, Wisconsin, over 10 years ago. Some things never change.

What was I doing here again? Oh yeah.

Actually, all of these lists are smaller than I thought they’d be, because I seem to have forgotten a lot of the things I used to miss. Funny what 7 years does.

4 thoughts on “That post about being an American in Australia, conveniently written on the 4th of July.

  1. Beth-Annie

    Totally with you on the watermelon Jolly Ranchers.

    And mmmmm… Arby’s… It’s still as good as you remember — just not as cheap anymore, unfortunately.

    Reply
  2. Kaly

    I’d never had fresh mandarins prior to living in Korea. Oh, they are good. And even I’ve had Vegemite, Mel! Not that I’d have it again, mind you. 😉

    Something I missed in Korea was white sheet cake. You couldn’t find it. I don’t think you could even get it on post. That was the nice thing about being military, though, was all the American foods in the commissary. That also was why the commissary and PX had ration cards, which was strictly enforced. Apparently, there’s a big black market in Korea for hot dogs! The funny thing is, it was on the economy where I got my Bennigans fix because there was one in downtown Daegu. I could go there and get the monte cristo sandwich and it tasted just like I’d ordered it in the states.

    Reply
  3. Anna

    Little Debbies!!! When I was in the states I lived on those evil little things. That and 25c tins of soda – MUG? I think I had so much soda over there (it felt wrong NOT to buy it at that price) I really dont like it anymore. I cant say I really found much in America that excited me food wise but I do like the availability of tacos. You never see fast food/street stall tacos here. A friend of mine told me “you know youre in the ghetto when theres a Popeyes on your block” and I lived right across the road from Popeyes!!! Wooooot!

    Reply

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