10 foods Americans miss most while abroad

10 foods Americans miss most while abroad

Because even the most adventuresome stomach can long for the processed goodness of home
american expats
When abroad, what red, white and sorta blue traveler hasn't whiled away an entire afternoon mentally cruising the wide grocery aisles of home?

There are certain things red-blooded U.S. citizens miss intensely when abroad for long stretches: friends, family, watching NFL football without having to get up in the middle of the night ... and food.

Especially food.

Sure, conquering exotic culinary worlds is exhilarating -- "I had no idea marsupial cheeks could be so delicious!"  -- but the dispiriting lack of some foods can make home feel very far away, indeed.

Here are the foods road-weary Yankees miss most.


mexican food Two weeks into any trip abroad, the vision that begins haunting Yankee dreams.

Mexican food

As every carne asada connoisseur knows, the further you get from Mexico, the lamer the tortillas get.

By the time they cross an ocean, the average U.S. citizen will fall into paroxysms of delight at the mere sight of a Taco Bell.

cinnamon toast crunch Dear Cereal Aisle: We'll never take you for granted again.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch 

Or Lucky Charms or Fruit Loops or Flutie Flakes or whatever may be your brand of choice.

While U.S. culture casts a long shadow across the planet, many places have yet to embrace its vision of a balanced breakfast built around a bowl of sugarcoated niacin and riboflavin.

The result? If you absolutely require your Wheaties, you'd better take them with you.

Or just accept as your dismal fate that the day shall begin with congee or a croissant.

chili fries Seriously, this is not a difficult concept. Why is it so impossible to create abroad?

Chili fries

Though you'll probably have to wipe off mayonnaise or other pointless goop, you can find frites in almost any country.

Until Mickey D's starts offering ground beef and shredded cheddar, however, you likely won't get the true chili fry experience until you've once again successfully passed through the TSA gauntlet.

root beer If by "acquired taste" you mean acquired at birth, sure.

Root beer

Sometimes it pays to fall in love with major brands.

Wherever you are in the world, if you want a Coke, you can get one. Ditto for Pepsi.

Root beer, whether A&W or your beloved regional version, has yet to conquer the globe, with the result that you may find yourself forced to -- brace yourself -- drink cola.

We know, it's pure savagery out there, but we'll get through this deprivation together.

hamburgersBig meat, soft buns.

Proper hamburgers

The United States loves burgers and that love only grows the bigger they come.

Even if you're in a place that serves quality beef, you'll have to order three and stack them together to get the proper gluttonous experience.

Of course, you can always detour to Argentina and stuff yourself with steak until you stop caring about sesame seed buns.

bagels Don't even dream of finding sun-dried tomato schmear.


There's a theory that there's something in the New York water that makes the bagels there taste unique.

Whatever the reason, assuming you're lucky enough to find them in the first place, bagels in foreign lands might as well be donuts. Minus the deliciousness. (You're excluded from this statement, Montreal -- vive St. Viateur!)

pizza Please just stop with the weird toppings.


Not an issue for anyone on extended stay in Italy, but while pizza can now be found all over the planet, inevitably it seems as if the people making it were given the general description but not the entire recipe.

The result?

Whether the sauce or the cheese or the crust or just the list of unacceptable toppings -- no matter how many times you do it, it's always unsettling to bite into a slice and hit corn -- something always feels off.

popcorn "Anybody got a gallon of melted butter handy?"


Yes, there are many, many wonderful alternative snacks around the globe, but this is still the one that works best while watching Harold & Kumar do anything.

Orville Redenbacher, you and your nephew Gary need to get global already.

ice We wish.


Sure, without it there's room for more soda.

Yet when you get your cup of Sprite and the frozen H2O isn't there, it just feels wrong. Like Christmas without the presents.

We add those cubes for a reason, people!

ketchupTo some, mere condiment. To others, sacred symbol of tangy liberty.


Ketchup packets you don't have to pay for

The United States is the land of plenty, so when you get fast food to go and they ask, “You want ketchup?” you can tell them, “Yes and keep 'em coming” until your bag contains roughly one packet per fry.

Like the 13 colonies, these packets were meant to be free.

Also on CNNGo: 5 awesome food trucks worth chasing

LET US KNOW: What foods do you miss when you are abroad? Serve up your answer in the comments below.

Sean Cunningham has written and edited for a variety of publications and websites. He's also a playwright of works including the Drama Desk-nominated musical God Hates the Irish, described by one critic as the "most foul-mouthed play ever staged Off-Broadway."

Read more about Sean Cunningham