I'm being a bit redundant here (see Living with Less), but......If you haven’t traveled outside the U.S., you have no concept of the abundance of choices we have available to us every day, as well as the luxurious life we lead compared most other countries. I’ve only been here three weeks, and I’m missing simple things that I can’t seem to find here in Sorrento, as well as ordinary things (in the U.S.) that are luxuries here. Maybe it’s because it’s mostly a town for tourists who don’t usually cook for themselves, or do laundry, or clean their own apartment. Here are some things I really miss:
1. Screens. I live in an old apartment building in an “average” apartment. My classmates from New Zealand lived in a renovated apartment up the steps from me…very modern and lovely. Neither of us had screens on our windows. So I live with a few flying insects if I want fresh air (and I do). There is one little pesky fly that has taken a liking to me, I think. I’m going to start charging him rent.
2. A clothes dryer. While I like the smell of clothes that have been dried outside, I really miss the convenience of a clothes dryer. And, even if you use fabric softener in the wash, the clothes never get as soft as they do in a dryer. I feel very exposed hanging my undies out for everyone to see.
3. American coffee and a regular coffeemaker. They have what they call “caffe lungo” here, which is the Italian interpretation of American coffee. Let me tell you, they got it wrong. I would give a lot for a large McDonald’s coffee right now. I used to drink three cups of coffee in the morning. But, now I drink only one, latte style, because this is my coffee maker (and yes, that's a regular sized fork I'm holding).
4. A burger. While Sorrento is a tourist town, and you'd think there would be a bit of catering to the tastes of people from other countries, you have to search long and hard to find a burger. Mind you, I love Italian food, but I also like variety. I’ve seen only a couple of restaurants that have anything on the menu besides Italian food—one place was an English pub, and a couple of days ago, I saw a place that had burgers and fries—and for breakfast, you could get Special K with banana. You can’t buy ground beef in the supermarket. I’m sure I could find more variety in a large city, like Rome or Florence, but for six weeks here, I’m pretty much on an Italian diet. I’m going to get a burger fix sometime this week though. But as for Chinese, Thai, Mexican or any other ethnic food, forget it. Oh, I did see a sushi place, but since I'm not fond of it, for me, it doesn't count.
5. A regular oven. My oven has only a top heating element, which makes baking anything impossible. I don’t know if this is the norm or not....I can't believe it is. But I can’t make some of my favorite dishes because there’s no broiled version. It’s good I don’t have a sweet tooth….can you imagine broiled cupcakes?
6. A peppercorn grinder. You know, the one you can find in the spice section in just about any U.S. grocery store. Can’t find one here, even in the supermarket. They have peppercorns, but my apartment isn’t equipped with a grinder. They do exist here, and I have looked in the kitchen store for one, but it’s an upscale store, and I’m not putting out 30 euro for a grinder to leave here. I miss my cracked pepper, but I think this one will be resolved when I go to Apulia.
7. Berries. I haven’t even laid eyes on a strawberry or raspberry. I did see one very small package, maybe a half cup, of blueberries in the supermarket the other day. They wanted 4 euro (about $5 USD) for them, and they looked old. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen an apple either, but I don’t eat them often. There are delicious peaches, bananas, grapes, and pears, which are abundant here. But no seedless grapes.
8. A reliable Internet connection. To get Internet in my apartment, I purchased a “carta per Internet”. It looks like a fat memory stick. It works fine, but I lose my connection frequently, because of the low signal strength. I’m hoping this is a location issue, because it’s very frustrating when you’re in the middle of something and ZAP, the connection drops. That’s why I’m not posting on my blog more often. It takes a long time to finish just one entry with all the interruptions.
9. Chicken broth. Just not available, and I don’t like the taste of broth made with bouillon cubes. This is serious, folks. I ate a lot of soups and made risotto often at home.
10. This should be number one. I miss talking to and doing things with my friends and family. I know this won’t get better.