Sweet Home Chicago

I haven’t written here in a while because we just got back from spending two weeks in the States. I wouldn’t exactly call it a vacation because we did a lot of running around, but we managed to visit everybody and still have time to do some exploring of our own. Among other things, we saw animals at Brookfield Zoo, walked around Lake Geneva, ate funnel cakes and saw livestock shows at the Walworth County Fair, had a picnic in the park, stood on the Ledge of the Sears Tower, rode the Navy Pier ferris wheel, ate lunch at Ed Debevic’s, saw a jazz concert in Millennium Park, roamed around giant bookstores (where we did our best not to spend all of our money), and even attended an American wedding (Isaac’s first!).

And then there was the eating. When Isaac is visiting I try to strike a balance between big-city and small-town Midwest, between eating good things and getting Isaac to try the foods America is famous for. This time, the American food won out. Isaac tried his first funnel cake, corn dog, and Cherry Coke, and we ate our share of hamburgers and ice cream. We also had corn on the cob and I ate as many berries as I could possibly stuff in my face at one time.

It’s funny how it’s always the food I miss the most. I mean, yeah of course I miss my family, friends, yada yada yada, but really – I miss the berries.

Spaniards don’t have berries. Well, they have strawberries. And that’s where the berries end. There are no blueberries. No raspberries. No blackberries (as a matter of fact, there ARE blackberries -tons of them- but for some reason the Spaniards view them more as a plague than the most delicious thing they will ever eat. I just don’t get it). No cranberries. In fact, they even use the same word for blueberries and cranberries (arándanos) – two berries that couldn’t be more different. And there’s nothing more painful than seeing berry pies and compotes and cobblers crop up in magazines and online in early summer and knowing you just can’t have any.

And the corn on the cob. Oh, here we have corn, but it’s just not the kind fit for humans I guess, because they never sell it. Sure, you can buy Green Giant corn in cans, but really – corn in cans? No thank you. Fresh corn on the cob slightly grilled and covered in butter and salt? Yes please! It’s just one of those things I expect to eat when July and August roll around, and find it disheartening not to see giant bins of green leafy cobs overflowing in the supermarkets all through summer.

And cheddar cheese. Yellow cheddar cheese. We have Irish white cheddar, which -don’t get me wrong- is fantastic. But when I want a juicy 4th-of-July burger (with my grilled corn on the cob and berry pie, of course), it’s just got to be sharp cheddar. Yellow sharp cheddar. Oh if only there were a way to ship massive amounts of perishable items overseas….

None of these things was my favorite food, and I never gave them much thought until I realized I couldn’t get them. Now I lament their absence and wait impatiently for my next visit home – um, to visit my family and friends, of course.

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