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Top 10 Things I Miss the Most About America

Thursday, October 17, 2013
I can hardly believe that I've lived in Madrid for exactly one month now. How did that happen? Don't get me wrong, I adore living here. Truth be told, I'm falling more and more in love with this city as each day goes by. Yet, as magnificent as Spain may be, there are still some things that I really miss about home. Here are some of the things that I miss the most about the United States:

1. Brunch

Brunch is my favorite thing in the entire world. Brunch is my favorite meal, my favorite time of day, and my all-time favorite tradition with friends. Unfortunately, most Spaniards don't believe in breakfast. This puts me in a rather uncomfortable position. The lack of brunch here in Spain is heartbreaking, really. If I think about it too much I start feeling depressed, so I'm going to stop right now.

Delicious brunch from 230 Fifth in NYC: get in my belly.

2. Football

I die a little inside every time I miss a Huskies or a Niners game. "Fútbol" only means one thing here, and it's definitely not what we know as America's greatest sport. Sure, I love Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo as much as the next expat in Madrid, but following soccer in no way fills the hole in my heart caused by the inability to watch UW and 49ers games.

Husky Stadium, my happy place.

3. All Pumpkin Everything

Europe hasn't exactly gotten on board with the pumpkin trend that has seduced America and all of our gourd-loving citizens. What is up with that? Where are my pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks? Why is there no pumpkin bread at my favorite gluten free bakery? Why can't I find pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin curry, or even regular pumpkins to decorate for Halloween? I'm devastated.

¿Dónde están las calabazas aquí en España?

4. Baking

The lack of baking products here in Spain is not conducive to my compulsive baking habits. I have a serious case of separation anxiety from my KitchenAid. I even dream of baking cupcakes at night. The things I would do to teleport myself back to the Celiac-friendly baking aisle in Whole Foods!

Gluten free red velvet cupcakes for Valentine's Day - by far my prettiest creation yet.

5. Friendliness

Although Seattle is notorious for the "Seattle Freeze", it's also a city where you can make friends with your barista every morning, strangers hold doors open for you, neighbors wave to one another, and passerby's will most likely say "I'm sorry!" even if you're the one who accidentally bumped into them. The principle of customer service is alive and well in America; waiters actually wait on you, sales associates are eager to help you, and saying "Good morning", "How are you today?" and "Thank you" to strangers isn't considered weird.

6. 24-Hour Grocery Stores

Because sometimes you just need a bottle of wine and a bar of chocolate past 11 pm. This also includes grocery stores that are actually open on Sundays. Grocery shopping on a weekend... what a concept!
You can't just do this kind of stuff in Spanish grocery stores.

7. Quality Toiletries

When I first arrived in Madrid in the sweltering month of August, I thought everyone on the Metro smelled so bad because they didn't wear deodorant. My mistake - they do wear deodorant, it just doesn't work. Same goes for finding quality whitening toothpaste. Where the Crest be at, ya'll?!? (Thankfully I'm a chronic over-packer and stocked up before my trip, hauling a plethora of American toiletries with me through England, France and Madrid. The extra ten few pounds were worth it.)

8. Cats

Okay, I know people in Spain have cats too. But - just like we do in the States - they keep their cats indoors (because they're still normal people and they don't walk their cats on the street like I tried to do when I was a kid. I'm really sorry about that, Scoobie Doo). Therefore, I never ever see cats. All I see are dogs who do their business in the middle of the sidewalk... and their owners never bother to pick it up. (Unfortunately, picking up after your pet is a duty thoroughly neglected by most Spaniards. I constantly feel as if I'm dodging land mines whenever I walk down the street.) Needless to say, I really miss Kitty Purry and Chairman Meow, and I just wish I could just cuddle and play with other cats in the meantime. Yeah, I'm a crazy cat lady. So sue me.

9. Fresh Fruits & Veggies

Fresh, quality produce is surprisingly hard to find here. It's nearly impossible to find a healthy vegetable dish on any given restaurant's menu. (And forget about affordable organic produce.) People tend to think that Spain embraces an extremely healthy diet because they are considered a Mediterranean culture, but that's not entirely true. Almost everything is fried, potatoes, bread and ham are practically considered their own food groups, and every time I go to a restaurant I feel as if I'm drowning in a sea of sodium. My Whole Foods loving, former Paleo, vegetable-obsessed soul cries a little every time I go grocery shopping. And don't even get me started on the lack of kale.

Dreaming of Larchmont Village Farmers' Market in Los Angeles.

10. Fresh Air

Maybe it's because the air quality here is just plain terrible, maybe it's due to the fact that everyone chain smokes, or maybe I just miss the good ol' Pacific Northwest and their glorious abundance of trees. But without fail, I constantly feel as if I'm on the verge of an asthma attack here in Madrid. I miss Seattle in all of its tree-hugging, non-smoking goodness.

Trees! Fresh air! Best friends! The Pacific Northwest trifecta right here.

I promise I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer, because there are a myriad of things I truly love about Madrid. (Stay tuned for my Top 10 Things I Love the Most About Spain!) But for all you folks back home, try not to take all of these wonderful things for granted. Sometimes America is cooler than we give it credit for.
4 comments on "Top 10 Things I Miss the Most About America"
  1. have you been to carmencitas? run by an american and the closest thing to american brunch! even 1 euro mimosas!

    1. 1 EURO MIMOSAS?!?! I think I know what I'm doing this weekend now...

    2. make a reservation. they book up fast!

  2. I totally know what you mean in regards to lack of baking! When I lived in Spain my landlord wouldn't even let us use the oven because it was "too dangerous"