1.31.2008

A slice of Americana

With Max still away, I decided to visit a couple that lives less than an hour from us. Coincidentally, these friends also lived within 50 miles from our home in North Carolina. Last June, the same month we got official notice of Max’s job transfer, they received orders and moved to a base in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

While the town isn’t as picturesque as so many of the towns in Deutschland, Kaiserslautern does offer some advantages to a weary and slightly homesick expat—a slice of Americana. Because of the massive numbers of American military (maybe in the hundreds of thousands), everyone speaks English and the stores take credit cards (a rare occurence in these parts) so as not to miss out on a huge market. The town also boasts a Toys R Us and a Subway. But for me, the best part of the visit to Kaiserslautern was accompanying wife Anne on her grocery-shopping excursion at the base’s commissary.

A well-known cliché warns us that we don’t miss something until it’s gone. While this may be the case with old lovers, it is also true of other things—like canned tomatoes, Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese, a hunk of New York cheddar, and tampons that come *with* applicators.

As we walked down well-stocked isles, with products priced in dollars and weighed in ounces and pounds, my eyes grew wider and wider. Like a child in a candy store, I squealed with delight when we came across a favorite treat--Newman’s Own Sesame and Ginger dressing. And because she knew I’d be staying for a few days so I could catch both the premiere of Lost and the SuperBowl via the Armed Forces Satellite Network, Anne stocked up on all my favorites and racked up a $360 dollar grocery bill in the process. Admittedly, it was hard to feel guilty while munching on Tostitos with a Hint of Lime and watching Anne pay a mere $3.00 per gallon to fill her 8-passenger minivan. Gosh, it felt good to be home.

Oh, wait….

22 comments:

running42k said...

That sounds like an interesting diversion.

Danie said...

Man I love Europe. And tampons...lucky you. What a luxury.

G in Berlin said...

I've been told, but have no idea if it's correct, that Americans (with passport) can enter the P/X and shop at bases here in Europe. Do you know if that's true? I'm stuck out here in Berlin, but I hear that there are oases of American food out in the West and south west... I long for that "Taste of Lime"...

Bluepaintred said...

Wow. So will you be going back there to shop for you and max?

Diane Mandy said...

g in berlin and bluepaintred - no, the store is only for military and their families. I was able to go on base as a guest, but I am not allowed to shop there. Boo!

gemma said...

I would visit her often and shop with her -- is there a limit on what she can spend? She can shop for two and you would reimburse her. We do that for our friends when we go to Sam's Club. They don't belong but come with us when we shop.

AmyD said...

I was going to suggest just what Genna did...that place sounds like it could very well be the occasional sanity you are looking for! ;o)

ms chica said...

My cousin lived in Venezuela for a few years. Each time family visited , she would request they bring a duffle bag full of pop-tarts.

It's the little things that make home, home.

Sizzle said...

so glad you could get a "taste of home"- life without tortilla chips just isn't life. :)

seriously, i love me some chips.

kenju said...

I love the lime tortilla chips too! How nice that you got to experience a ltitle slice of home!

Dan-E said...

those lime tostitos are awesome. dip them in my own homemade salsa and i'm good for about an hour. i don't eat chips often but those are what i get if i treat myself.

Andrea said...

Tostitos with lime... I love those! Sounds like a fun time seeing 'America'. We went to a air static show in Geilenkirchen (spelling?) last year and had REAL American hamburgers with cheddar and Fritos chips to boot! Highlight of my year :)

June said...

ahhhhhh...Sesame and Ginger from hottie P.Newman...one of my favorite things...EVER.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

IOt sounds like a super shop to have those items.

Chelsea Talks Smack said...

I definitely. would miss Stouffers. Definitely.

Jennifer said...

!!!

Sounds like you've found a slice of home close to ... well, new home! Good for you!

karey m. said...

it's a small world, right?

hey...i gave you a "you make my day" award over on my blog.

a tiny thanks for all your support!

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

LOL...great post.

Isn't it strange what you miss?

luker said...

gemma - the grocery stores on post/base are for the American military. It is one of their benefits, hence, they receive less dollars in their paycheck. This is a benefit American military who live in the US and overseas receive. Purchasing things on a regular basis for those living on the economy (in the US or overseas) is not only WRONG it is also ILLEGAL. Please do not encourage any military member or family member to do something that could get them in trouble, just to keep an expat happy. An occaissonal gift is legal and should help Diane with her need to be close to home.

G in Berlin said...

I think that you are incorrect. The PX is not the reason that the military are poorly paid anymore than the company store is the reason that one company town employees were paid poorly. The PX is cheap because generally the goods are not subject to certain taxes. The same way that Native American reservations can sell cheap cigarettes. Did you use this exact same comment on the German Way forum?

Diane Mandy said...

Just to be clear, I didn't shop on base. I was visiting friends for the week and reaped the advantages of staying with them. :-)

Britney'sblog said...

Am I the only one dealing with dating issues besides me because its very hard to stay positive when I don’t see any decent single sites out there? I have been looking for activities that don’t cost an arm and a leg? I have been searching the web and I’ve been on several sites looking for local events. The only one I was able to find is http://www.singlesinmotion.com does anyone know of any other?