Sharp Monica

An honest voice in Italian paradise.

Update from America: Things I’ve Missed

Actually, the Ritz crackers are nice to come back to too.
Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Ms. Doom and Gloom interrupts her cross-cultural commentary to bring you a brief list of items she is happy to have at hand once more in the U.S. after a very, very long hiatus. I think they used to call it a listicle. In any case, we have now been stateside for two weeks, which is about the right amount of time to compile a list like this.

Corn tortillas. My lord. So good, and so hard to find in Italy. In fact, I found some that are a mix of corn and wheat flour! So good. Trader Joe’s, I love you. I have eaten my weight in 6″ corn tortillas since we arrived in country. I’m not letting up. Mexican hand tacos every morning! (Corn tortilla, scrambled egg, melted cheese, salsa picante.) Which brings me to my next item…

Salsa. Hell yes. An American revelation. None of this sugary-sweet, thickened candy salsa that they sell in the EU. I can barely eat the stuff. If there were such a thing as melted salsa vanilla sorbet, it tastes like that. If you ever feel like you need to try some really bad salsa, why, just get yourself to the EU and buy some El Paso from Carrefour, manufactured and packaged in Madrid or wherever. It is so bad. In fact, I threw away a squeeze bottle of green salsa one time because it was mostly sugar. EUROPE. Why? Why.

Diet Cherry 7-Up. Ah, sweet sweet quenching. There are so many kinds of soda in the U.S., and many of them are low or no sugar, and I am fine with that. I hate pop in general at home in Italy and will drink it only if desperate for … I don’t know, something cold, bubbly, and caffeinated. Usually I am strictly water, espresso, prosecco, red wine. But oh, Diet Cherry 7-Up. Refreshment of my youth. Tasty when cold and even less cold. And diet. So no aftertaste. I love it. I actually have bought a 12-pack each of regular Cherry 7-Up (way too much sugar, not as tasty, bad aftertaste), Diet 7-Up (close, no cigar), and then my dad found Diet Cherry 7-Up in the Lincoln City Safeway. I’m in pop heaven. No one drink my pop please. I’m having a moment.

Half and half. It’s just so good in drip coffee, which I also never have in Italy. Half and half seems to not exist in Italy. You can buy heavy whipping cream, kitchen cream, already whipped cream, and milk at every percentage, both refrigerated and UHP bricks, but half and half? I didn’t realize this was such an American thing, but damn, it is good. Years ago I had much older family members who joyfully plopped heavy whipping cream into their drop coffee, globs and all. Damn that coffee was good. Little beads of fat collected on top of the hot surface.

Cheap over the counter medicine. In Spokane I bought a pony keg each of ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Okay, just kidding, but close. Close. Why is this important? No drug is cheap in Italy. Not even the most basic painkiller that looks like cat food nuggets. For comparison purposes, a total of 4800 mg of ibuprofen in Italy costs about 10 euros in a Florentine pharmacy, and not even a touristy one. In the Spokane Walgreen’s, I paid $15 for 100,000 mg of ibuprofen. Given my jake right knee, I’ve been taking 400 mg every morning to keep things smooth. (Tests have been scheduled for September; daily ibuprofen is not a long-term solution.) It’s nice to know I’ve laid in an affordable supply for this very purpose.

Nice drivers. American drivers in the Pacific Northwest seem super polite to me now, after years of clenching my teeth and making squeaking sounds when we navigate the Florence ring road (viale). They slow down. They yield. The let you in. It’s incredible.

Laundry. My god, people, in this magical land called America, you can finish a huge load of family laundry in less than 72 hours! There is a dryer! Sheets are dry! Pants are dry! Seams are dry! And if they don’t dry in one setting, you can reset it and do it again until the things are dry! And dryer sheets are magical fragrance vehicles! I feel about dryers like I feel about bacon: we probably should NOT like these things, but damn, when you have them, they are so good, even as you know they are indefensibly bad for everyone and everything else everywhere on the whole entire planet.

Coming soon: brief comments about personal international money management (endless headache) and the news out of Italy – surprising to no one who keeps up – that the current government coalition has collapsed yet again, thanks a lot Cinque Stelle. I’ll be saying a secular rosary tonight for Mattarella and Draghi. Gesù.

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4 Responses

  1. Costco’s Kirkland-brand ibuprofen is currently 200,000 mg for $11. (Their naproxen is similarly cheap, but I don’t see it on their website at the moment.) Let me know if you need a care package.

  2. I read your latest entry soon after reading your previous entry about the harshness of life for so many in contemporary America. Yes, there are nice things too, but at what price? Frankly, I look forward to returning to Italy next month despite its many problems.

  3. Dental floss. Always bought loads when I was visiting the American side of the pond. Why should it be so expensive in Europe? It’s only string. But Europeans don’t seem to like the idea of running bits of string between your teeth. They keep telling you about these little narrow brushes that you can use (if you’re desperate) to clean out the gap in between your teeth and your gums. A brush? I don’t think so.

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