10.07.2008

Remembering the forgotten

Now that life in Germany cruises along as if it is in overdrive, I hardly ever miss tangibles from home. I still get to watch many of my favorite television shows either through iTunes or on DVD. My State-side family and friends graciously offer to ship or bring me that which cannot be downloaded--over-the-counter medications, Mineral Basics make-up, stainless steel wipes, Playtex tampons, and a set of American-sized, queen sheets-- to tied me over until I travel home. I've also gotten use to doing without things I once missed such as ample parking and free public restrooms. Day in and day out, life abroad has become easy and familiar. Max and I have replaced much of what we lost with a German equivalent, and it doesn't take much effort to forget a few comforts from home.

But every once in a while, something happens to make me miss the almost forgotten.

Last night, our friends serving in the military signed Max and me on base and treated us to dinner at Chilis' Grill and Bar. Now I realize it isn't the culinary Mecca of American cuisine, but, from the moment we stepped foot inside the restaurant door, I immediately felt transported.

Even though I didn't regularly patron the chain when I lived back in North Carolina, it felt familiar to me. The expansive and creative cocktail selection, Philadelphia Eagle's game blaring from the big-screen TV, loud English-speaking cliental, sixteen-ounce glasses of soft drinks loaded with ice and free refills, and the menu, which featured burgers instead of bratwurst-- these were the wonderful tangibles and intangibles of my American culture. And for the two hours we spent guiltlessly chowing down on spicy boneless, buffalo wing, spinach and artichoke dip, nachos, and a delightfully gooey chocolate chip paradise pie, I remembered what I missed. And it felt good to be home.

15 comments:

Mike B said...

OK, I wasn't so jealous until I realized it's been a while since I had a good order of buffalo wings with bleu cheese dressing (there is some local equivalent to that to be found somewhere, but it is not easy). Omigod, am I actually longing for access to Chilis?

Carmi said...

I hear ya. I had a similar moment sitting in a Kentucky Fried Chicken in the middle of KFC.

Back home, I'd cross the street to get AWAY from a KFC. There's something about these joints that just rubs me the wrong way. But on the other side of the planet with no familiar touchstones, it was just the thing for a reconnection with the old life.

LZ Blogger said...

Diane ~ I miss both "In & Out Burgers" and "Islands" Big Wave Burgers" One's a cheapie and the other is a big classic! And I'm not even an Ex-Pat (well except from) Orange County, CA. I wonder if I could get them here on a base? ~ jb///

meno said...

Uh oh. All the Chilis around here have gone out of business.

Dan-E said...

i know exactly what you mean. i lived in prague for three months and i loved their food, but i found a tgi fridays not too far away and stopped in just once and i felt exactly the way you described.

i rarely go to fridays but for that one hour, it was almost like being back home.

Lynda said...

Hey! we have lots of Chilli's here in Cairo... you could just come down and visit the family and drop in for a burger. I have only been once (where we first arrived) and was so overwhelmed by the menu, I haven't been back - what do you order??

American in Norway said...

A ha... I have been to THAT Chili's. I even went & got a job on base when I lived in Mannheim so I could get on the base/PX movie theater... All the VELVEETA a girl could ask for...
You always make me want to go back to Mannheim!

Connie said...

We miss good Tex-mex!

patches said...

Ah, comfort food. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Cheryl said...

I always feel like Target is an equalizer for me, here in the states. No matter where I am, Target is always the same. That makes me :)

swenglishexpat said...

I, like so many others, know exactly what you mean. I have the same experience every time I visit an IKEA store, where I always have a meal, mostly meatballs, but it is slightly weird to hear the German staff pronouncing the Swedish words. It does not put me off my food though!

G in Berlin said...

I am sending envious thoughts your way!

Andrea said...

Believe it or not I loved going to Macaroni Grill...in Taipei! I had missed this place from when we lived in Maryland and it just so happens that when we were in Taipei last August, Macaroni Grill (and Chillis as well) were around the corner from our hotel. It was nice to go home as an American citizen and Germany resident while on vacation in Taipei! :)

A Touch of Dutch said...

How could I let this one get past me?! I was never big on Chili's, but this would be a fun experience :-) Even though I am not a fan of them, what a treat!

J said...

I've only been on the Wurzburg base, but Taco Bell was to die for - as was a bookshop totally in English.

When I visit Asia, I like going to Sizzler and Outback.