When I’m not sure what to do when I’m traveling, I pull a classic Damon Dominique, go to the grocery store, and then have the same realization nearly every time: there is just some American food I will always miss while abroad.
As if I wasn’t picky enough when it comes to choosing my food, when I travel it becomes that much more difficult. One, because I’m a vegetarian (which is even pretty difficult to manage in my hometown state of Indiana), and two, because of how much of a spoiled, borderline American hippie I am when it comes to my food preferences here in the States.
Big cups of coffee
The concept is not super difficult. Ground coffee, drip coffee, filtered coffee, hell even instant coffee. No, not an espresso, not a latté, not a mocha, not anything else you have at gourmet cafés; I want a regular American-sized coffee with milk and sugar.
This one I have to completely give up when I’m abroad cuz I’m so downright spoiiiiiiiiled in the States (or really, New York City, for that matter). As a nine-year vegetarian (side note, omg it’s really been nine years already?), I’ve learned the ins and outs of surviving with and without fake meat, but it’s times like my three months in Latin America, where I expected I’d have an easy time with all the quesadillas, burritos, tacos, nachos and other easily vegetarian-ified foods that it really made me realize how lucky I am to have tofu, tempeh, seitan, fake turkey, fake ground beef, fake ham, etc. constantly stocked in my local supermarkets in the States.
Peanut butter is America’s equivalent to this thing called Nutella – a chocolate spread everyone is obsessed with in Europe. I didn’t even know it existed until my first trip to Europe in 2008. Maybe it was just the health-freak in me that prevented me from every hearing about it or just my general dislike of super sweet deserts, but Nutella is always a no-go, and peanut butter is always an oh-yes.
This is probably the biggest deal-breaker for me, food-wise, in a new country. If you don’t believe in chocolate milk, I’m not sure we’ll agree on much. Milk and chocolate are two things that I’m pretty sure exist in almost every country, yet a trip to a grocery store outside of America would make you think otherwise. Maybe that’s a good thing? Maybe I should start looking at it as a much-needed detox after drinking chocolate milk probably twice daily.
I didn’t know I’d be the (self-proclaimed) king of kale till I moved to New York City and pretty much spent my life scouring the hot bar at Whole Foods TriBeCa. At $8.99 a pound, the hot bar doesn’t give someone like me, a broke twenty-something, much option other than lightweight salads, so one day, I tried kale, and my life changed.
After my life-changing discovery of kale, I became such a fan, even so ignorant as to think I, yes IIIIII, was introducing my mom to the idea of kale when she said, “Damon, that’s been around for years.”