Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The things we carried (in our suitcases)

As I stood over my suitcase last week trying to figure out how we were going to pack everything without going over the weight limit, I started questioning my dependence on American goods.  As you can see, I brought back the every important essentials of life like cake flour and chocolate chips.  It really took more willpower than I thought it would not to buy the seven other varieties of King Arthur Flour at the local grocery store.  I'm pretty sure most people who visit the U.S. do not think to themselves, "I should really bring this rye flour back with me.  I might need it if I suddenly get the urge to make myself some bread.  Maybe I should go get some of that corned beef I saw on sale, too.  Then I could feel like I was at a deli anytime I want!"
It's all about what makes you feel at home...to a certain degree anyway.  I just keep wondering what I would find in other ex-pats' suitcases.  I have to believe anyone living abroad feels compelled to bring back little pieces of home when they return from a visit.  You should have seen the various products I pouted and fussed about leaving on the shelves of Trader Joe's in Chicago.  I also left a bunch of linens and family pieces that had belonged to my grandmother at my parents' house, much to the disappointment of my mother, who is working to downsize.  I regularly thwart her attempts as I continually ask her to hang on to stuff I know I'm going to need at some unassigned time in the future.  To my parents with a house larger than my apartment: what a storage facility I've made out of my childhood bedroom.  Sorry.

We did pretty well coming right in at the weight limit for our luggage.  We could have made it without borrowing a second suitcase from my parents if it hadn't been for these:
With a much greater selection and much better prices in America, our luggage coming back from the States will always have at least a few books.  I think I should be thanking Delta for restricting the weight limits this year even more.  I can't imagine what else I would have thought to bring back if I had had double the weight limit.


  1. What an interesting reading list! "When Genius Failed" was going to be the title of my ultramarathoning autobiography.

    I would've thought rye flour was common in Europe, as all my rye recipes are based on Old World standards (I had a local artisanal bakery make me a loaf of limpa so I'd know what it was supposed to be like!) The things I've always heard were hard to find are peanut butter and pumpkin pie mix - I'm guessing peanut butter's common by now.

  2. Steve,
    Your comment about When Genius Failed left me rolling on the floor. It's a great book that I read a really long time ago and I've suggested it to Niek so many times, I think he feels compelled to read it.
    I think rye flour, especially in other European countries, is rather easy to find. I was tempted partially because I love King Arthur Flour and partially for my bias toward American products. It's really time for me to visit one of the many mills in Holland so I can finally stop complaining about selection. Peanut butter is easy to get in the Netherlands, but when it comes to pumpkin pie mix, I have to make my own from scratch. You have to really want that pumpkin pie.