We’re getting ready to head back to Italy for a long stay, so it’s time to think about what I might want to take with me from here that I just can’t possibly buy there.
For instance, I take suntan lotion because so far I haven’t seen any SPF#50. I’m sure this is just a generality, but it seems to me that Italians have great skin that never wrinkles, so SPF#15 is just fine for them. But for us with northern European ancestry, the only thing better than #50 would be #100….which I think I just saw recently. Must try to remember where I saw it and stock up!
Plastic wrap and aluminum foil usually find a way into my luggage. Italy has both, but when you’re used to the Costco variety of plastic wrap with the sliding knife edge that allows you to neatly cover whatever it is you want to cover, and then cut the piece to fit perfectly, you’re not going to be happy fighting a losing battle with their substitute, which clings only to itself, thereby ending up an unusable mass of plastic wrap. The fact that they’re both clear is about their only common ground. Italian aluminum foil is the aluminum foil version of their plastic wrap.
Peanut butter is my #1 favorite must-take food. I happen to be a Skippy Creamy purist. I am not a fan of Skippy chunky, nor Jiff, nor any of those healthy natural products with the oil floating on the top. In Orvieto, you can get something labeled “peanut butter” in the COOP, but there’s only one brand – if you can imagine! – and it’s definitely NOT Skippy. I’ve seen Skippy in an international food store in Rome, but it costs more than a steak dinner for a jar that would yield no more than 4 sandwiches. Just writing about it makes me think I better add another jar to my luggage.
(By the way — I much prefer Italy’s jams to compliment my Skippy.)
I haven’t seen any panko breadcrumbs in Italy, so we’ll be taking those along. Breadcrumbs in general are usually tucked away in a difficult-to-find place in the stores. I think it’s because most people make their own from their day-old bread, so there’s no need to buy them. And you know how in the US there are breadcrumbs with “Italian seasonings”? Well — they certainly don’t need those in Italy!
Foods from home are always one of the important things with people from other countries. As I’ve said before – if you’re in Italy for a 2-week vacation, you savor every single bite of REAL Italian food. But after a month, your taste buds start thinking about whatever it is from home that you can’t get in the stores. I remember the happiness in an English woman’s voice when she found a certain ingredient I’d never heard of in a local supermarket. And one store had tacos for a short time, much to the excitement of the Americans.
Corn is for polenta and animal feed, so you would never find fresh sweet corn for corn-on-the-cob in the marketplace. That and Maryland crab meat are 2 of my big longings – along with a ribeye steak. They have wonderful beef – the best being their huge T-bone Bistecca alla Fiorentina – but I’ve never seen a ribeye. Unfortunately, sweet corn, crab meat and ribeyes don’t pack well to take over.
Missing homeland foods is definitely universal. One of my favorite stories is of an Italian woman who was visiting a friend in the US. Rather than take her to a modern Italian restaurant, the friend wanted her to experience an old-fashioned local traditional red-sauce Italian place to have some of their “authentic” pasta. When asked how she liked it, the woman said she was a bit confused because she couldn’t understand why anyone would put ketchup on pasta. When you’re away from your home territory, one person’s “authentic” is another’s ketchup.