|Skippy! Jif! Peter Pan!|
"What American food," Mike asked me the other day, "do you miss most when you're in Italy?" I didn't have to think long.
"Good hamburgers and peanut butter," I zipped back at him, "and KIND bars....but not together."
"Interesting," he replied. "You'll have to bring some with you."
I already planned on bringing peanut butter and KIND bars, to tell the truth. I always pack about 20-25 bars to get me through my long trips. When I started getting sick of eating the same cured meats and pasta all the time during my Bologna trip last year, I started craving hamburgers and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
The groceries do not stock much peanut butter, and the stuff they do have is both expensive and looks a little like powdered peanut butter to which someone has added a liquid (which reminds me that I actually saw powered PB in Target today. BLECH.). I saw a jar of Skippy (or maybe it was Jif) last year, and it cost 6.50 euro (At that time, about $9 for a small jar. I knew that the peanut butter, regardless of the fact that it was an American brand, would not taste the same.
I can't explain it, but if you've traveled out of the country, you know what I mean. There's always something a little off about the taste of "American" food in Europe. It could be the lack of all the preservatives and crap we put in food here, or it could be the water. Who knows? All I can say is that I wasn't paying all that money to taste powdery peanut paste. I ended up eating butter and jelly or Nutella and jelly which are definitely not the same.
So, you may ask, why isn't burro d’arachidi (peanut butter) popular on the peninsula? It's not the consistency that turns miei paisani off, certainly. They down Nutella on toast with as much vigor as we do peanut butter on bread. I think it all comes down to the fact that peanuts never grew on the European continent, and peanut butter is an acquired taste. It brings to mind that popular Australian foodstuff, Vegemite, which gags most Americans. (I doubt I'd ever be able to acquire a taste for that malty, salty, bitter, yeasty paste because, quite frankly, I'd never try it. If the name weren't enough to turn me off, the fact that it's made of leftover brewer's yeast would do it. But, I digress.....)
At any rate, I 'm bringing some peanut butter with me this year. The fact that I do only carry-on is a bit of a problem, but since one of the gals in the first tour is checking a suitcase, I've asked her to pack two or three things for me. Peanut butter is at top of the list, and I've already bought a jar ($2.34 for Skippy crunchy at Target today).
I'm going to have to work on the hamburger thing, though.....