Expats - What's in your Fridge?
News of a recent photo project by Peter Menzel has brought a lot of attention to the food different cultures prepare and consume. His project displays a week of groceries in countries around the globe in places such as Mexico, Great Britain, China, Kuwait, the USA and more.
It's facinating to observe what food groups compose a country's diet, as well as the quanity of prepared and packaged goods, grains utilized, fresh products and a look at the families themselves. His project highlights the many different cultures and lifestyles of the people of the world through their cuisine.
While many people dine out at a Vietmanese restaurant, eat a cuban sandwich for lunch, or make a mean paella - enjoying foreign cuisine from time to time is wildly different than living and eating abroad. Moving overseas can introduce you to a vast array of dishes you've never tried before, as well as isolate you from elements of your staple diet. Expat interviewees continually bemoan the lack of texmex/tim tams/vegemite/etc. in their current country (check out the varied and occasionally hilarious answers to "What do you miss most?") and expat blog posts galore cover the weird, the wonderful, and the truly bizarre eating habits and cuisine in their new country.
We've addressed the challenge of getting comfortable with the food and dining culture of your adopted land in our article on Eating Like a Local, but we wanted to delve deeper and get into some expat kitchens. What are they cooking? What do they buy? What do they miss? What does their fridge look like?
Luckily, there is a stable of expat bloggers for us to ask. Below are some of our featured blogger's repsonses and pictres. See what expats have cooking and what that says about them and their new country.
Expat Food Stories
Crystal - Canadian Expat in France
Blog: Crystal Goes to Europe
Expat interview: From Canada to the French Alps - Crystal Goes to Europe
What's in my fridge? Well, what springs to your mind when you hear "France"? Cheese? Check. Wine? Check (white, not red). Pastries? Check (well, until earlier today there were). Baguette? Check. Charcuterie and pâté? Nope and nope.
As much as I do love a great white wine from Alsace or a hunk of Comté cheese from an artisan Alpine cheese maker, I must admit that French cuisine and les produits du terroir are lost on this expat Canadian. I've always been a picky eater, and I've found that my dietary habits haven't changed all that much since moving to France. I can still find all my favourites: yogurt (there's even more choice in France than Canada!), breads and bagels, hummus, fresh veggies, ice cream and Indian dishes/ingredients.
The biggest challenge I've met so far is keeping my meat-eating French husband satisfied on my vegetarian style cooking! It can be hard for us to decide on a restaurant only because it's still difficult in France to find a resto with a decent vegetarian option on the menu (or one at all, for that matter). Similarly, I find that there is a bigger selection of vegetarian and vegan foods in Canadian supermarkets than here in France. Perhaps the variety and availability of these kinds of foods is better in big cities like Paris, but out here in my Alpine village, I'm lucky to find one kind of veggie burger at the local grocery store, and don't even get me started on how expensive some flavoured tofu can be!
Until recently, you couldn't find a lot of typical "American" foods in France, and I found myself missing things like Philadelphia cream cheese and some chocolate bars from the motherland, such as Coffee Crisp and Glosettes (chocolate covered raisins). But while the candy is still part of precious care packages from Canada, French supermarkets are now carrying my beloved cream cheese and there are even multiple kinds!
If you looked in my fridge here in France, I think you'd find a pretty equal mix of French and North American foods. Breakfast might be a bagel and cream cheese one morning and a pain au chocolat the next. For lunch, I might pull out a few different kinds of cheeses to eat with a crunchy baguette and a smear of salted butter from Normandy, or whip up some BLTs (hold the bacon on mine) for my husband and me. And why not a salmon and leek quiche made with tangy crème fraîche for dinner and some Ben & Jerry's ice cream for dessert?
Crystal's favorite French food of baguette, wine & olives
Lanae - American Expat in South Korea
Blog: Chasing a Tale
After moving to South Korea the contents of my fridge dramatically changed for three reasons:
- Things from home were unavailable
- Food from home was expensive
- Getting everything shipped from home seemed socially irresponsible
So now, where there was ketchup there is spicy red pepper paste, where there was sauerkraut there is kimchi,and where there was cheese there is tofu. My diet has changed dramatically since moving abroad, and so has my health. It turns out that I was actually allergic to most of the food in my home country. Now I live allergy free which has meant I don’t really miss food from home.
I actually have a blog just about expat cooking and food at theexpattable.blogspot.com.
Robin - American in Slovakia
Blog: Robin's Great Adventure
Look for her upcoming expat interview!
Here's what I have in my fridge...fresh veggies and fruit that in the States would cost me quite a lot. Slovakia does have GMO's but not to the extent the US does. My students bring me fresh tomatoes, peppers and fruit from their gardens. It is wonderful!
I am a fish eater so I do miss fresh fish I would buy in Boston at the docks. I crave fish tacos and sushi. These are not food items that are prevalent in Slovakia.
Here is a picture of me drinking champagne at Kastiel Pecky near Levoca, Slovakia.
What do you have in your fridge? Has your dining changed since you moved aborad? Share your comments below!