You don’t have to look very hard online to find a foreigner abroad looking for some of the comforts of home. Let’s take this American, for example. I miss canned pumpkin like crazy and a whole host of other things like PAM cooking spray, regular Cheerios, and more. No, it’s not a serious problem, but sometimes the little things make a huge difference in our day-to-day lives.
As much as we might want something from home, there’s another person who rains on our parade saying unhelpful things like, “Stop trying to make France more like America!” or “If you want American peanut butter, move back to America!” Nice, huh? I’ve seen comments like those and worse on forums online.
Here’s why it’s OK to want things from your home country when you live abroad along with my favorite place to buy American food in France!
First, let me point out that life abroad can be an emotional roller coaster, one that you maybe weren’t 100% sure you wanted to ride and that never comes to a full stop. Stress and uncertainty are just 2 of the things that come with the major life change of picking up everything and moving thousands of miles away.
So how do we deal?
By doing all kinds of things that make us feel more comfortable and at ease. Things like staying in touch with friends and family, watching our favorite TV shows from home, connecting with new people, traveling, etc.
And what’s one little thing that always gives me a boost? One of my favorite food products from home.
By craving something from “home” and spending money on a taste of America, you’re not failing to integrate or insulting your new country.
Even when you aren’t stressed and craving a comfort of home, sometimes you want what you want and there’s nothing wrong with that. In our technologically advanced society, it’s pretty simple to order anything your heart desires and have it delivered to your doorstep.
(Speaking of a taste from home, did you hear the first Costco opened in France a few months ago? Too bad it’s several hours away from me!)
Anyway, I think it’s silly when people criticize others about the most insignificant things, and while doing so, throw respect and civility out the window. It’s even more ridiculous when it’s a tad hypocritical. Take for example someone who happily seeks out French wine or cheese in the USA and in the same breath criticizes an American abroad for trying to find American food in France.
Would anyone tell an American living in America to “Go to France!” if they’re looking for French wine for dinner and that they should only drink wine from Napa Valley?
Are we only supposed to eat and do American things in America? Surely no one thinks the answer to that is yes.
In NYC where there’s a wealth of amazing ethnic restaurants, are we supposed to ignore them if we’re American? Of course not. Or is it appropriate to tell an American in NYC who eats sushi on Saturday nights to move to Japan and only eat American foods in America? Of course not.
See how silly that all sounds?
It’s the same thing for us foreigners in France. There’s nothing shameful in wanting a taste of home. Or a taste of Mexico or Japan or Ethiopia. I eat like the French and do my best to be culturally aware and respectful. None of that has anything to do with wanting a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup once in a while. Wanting something from home does not mean you’re not integrating.
In this global economy, why the heck not take advantage of the products and services that are available to us?
To that end, let me introduce you to My Little America.
Founded by Todd and Anthony (American and French, respectively), My Little America offers customers over 600 American products for sale in their France-based shop. From savory to sweet and beyond, they’re one of the biggest American grocery stores in Europe!
Shipping is free on orders over 99 € (and be sure to check out the end of my post for a coupon code!).
So who is My Little America for?
Todd explains the site’s goals here, “The first is to make it possible for Americans and French people who have lived in the US to find their favorite products easily, wherever they might live. The second is to help French people discover these ‘new’ and ‘exotic’ products and introduce them to the idea of ‘comfort food’.”
Is it expensive? Well, prices are going to be higher than US prices because of import, shipping, and customs costs to get the products to France. For times when you want to treat yourself, though, I find the prices more than reasonable when you factor everything in.
Let me show you what I ordered from My Little America a couple of weeks ago:
Take note of how the items are carefully packed and wrapped. Unlike other American grocery stores I’ve shopped at, My Little America took extreme care in their shipping to ensure nothing arrived damaged. Everything was packed securely and wasn’t left to roll around in the box. When you’re paying for something from home, you want it to arrive in one piece! Their packing can’t be beat!
So here’s what I bought:
- A box of regular Cheerios (only the sugary varieties are available in France)
- Nestle Toll House Semisweet Chocolate Chips. I love these for baking and normally only small bags of mini chips are readily available in France.
- 1 pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Because duh.
- Pam Cooking Spray. France may want to start making something comparable. Just sayin’.
- Funfetti Frosting. Because it’s fun.
- Mini box of Nerds candies as a free gift.
The same week, I also received a care package from home which included some of the goodies below. 😉 So yup, I’m a happy camper!
Last thing. If you’ve gone full native and never want anything from home, that’s more than fine. To each his (or her) own.
Companies like My Little America exist for people looking for American food in France. If something as simple as a food product from home makes us happy, I’d consider that a win. With a store like My Little America, those of us living in France can easily and affordably treat ourselves.
Sometimes all it takes is a simple comfort to make a foreign land feel more like home.
Do you live abroad? What do you miss from home?
(To get 5€ off your order of 50€+, click on the graphic below and use code REMISE5 at checkout!)