Pretty much anything we want or need in Europe, we can find it. Some things maybe aren’t quite what we are used to back home. But at least we can find it.
There are a few exceptions, though. Here are 5 things we as Americans can’t find in Europe. Or at least they just aren’t quite what we are used to in the states.
1. Black Beans
We were craving taco salads – a staple of our diets back in the US and a super easy dinner. Tortilla chips, tomatoes, ground chicken or turkey, cheese, sour cream, corn and black beans. But black beans are nowhere to be found! We looked in the canned food section and in the dried bean section. After months of searching, we finally found some in Padua, Italy in a can. But they were mixed with canned tomatoes and a LOT of spices. They tasted a little too odd for me.
Chris LOVES bagels. We used to eat Einsteins bagels when we lived in Orlando (shout out to the Dr. Phillips Einstein Bagels team – they are the NICEST people!!!). The DC Einsteins wasn’t quite the same experience so we would get Thomas bagels from the grocery store. Here in Europe – we can’t find bagels anywhere! Not at the grocery store, not at the corner bakery, not in the frozen foods section. It was weird! So when an ad popped up for me one day for a new bagel and coffee shop in Vienna I couldn’t believe it! Of course Chris and I went the next day. The bagel shop is called 1683 Bagel and it is really good!
Chris ordering his bagel:
Mmmmm… just writing this blog post and looking at this photo makes me want a bagel:
James want to try a bagel bite:
3. Ziptop baggies
I personally LOVE Hefty OneZip baggies. In the US, I am constantly buying the quart size baggies and the gallon freezer baggies. I use them for food, day trips, traveling, etc. The Ziploc baggies are best for bagging up dog food on quick trips (so I don’t have to measure out food – I have pre-packaged meals for James). But here in Europe – WOW zipper plastic baggies are hard to find! In Austria, they were a little easier to find. But in Italy and France they are so rare. The baggies you do find are just little plastic clear bags – almost like teeny tiny pleated garbage bags. And they come with a set of twist ties. They even have freezer baggies like this and it seems so odd to me because I would think your food wouldn’t really seal and would then get freezer burned. I did find some zip baggies in Italy once and they were really big – bigger than a gallon bag – but they were made of a very thin plastic and the zipper was super cheap and didn’t seem secure. I bought them because… when in Italy… but they were not what I was used to.
Oh Hefty I miss you:
4. Canned Pumpkin
You are probably wondering, “Why does Sandra need canned pumpkin in the middle of March in Europe??” I will have you know that canned pumpkin is the best food to settle a dog’s tummy. Every now and then James gets a little bit of a stomach upset and it turns into diarrhea. The best thing to help clear up his diarrhea is chicken, rice and pumpkin. One night in Italy we made a delicious pesto pasta dish for dinner. I didn’t finish mine and I decided to add my leftovers to J’s food bowl. Oops. Rich pesto and a sensitive Poodle belly didn’t mix. And I didn’t have any pumpkin to help get James back to normal. I am now finding some stores have little pumpkins in their produce sections so I could probably cook it up and roast it. But when I am in a hurry to settle his stomach I don’t want to be in the kitchen chopping and roasting. And it does seem odd that March is the month that pumpkins are in the produce section here. In the US, we really only see pumpkins around October and November.
***A WARNING TO OUR MALE READERS that may be uncomfortable with feminine hygiene products***
5. Tampons with applicators
Ladies, this is just crazy to me! Where is the Tampax? Or the Playtex? All they have here in Europe is OB and the OB tampons don’t have applicators. You are the applicator. If you are at home with a nice clean bathroom sink and soap nearby, this is fine. But when I need to use a public bathroom I want to touch as little as possible and I still don’t trust the soap (it is usually empty!) and terrible hand dryers. I think the reason for the lack of applicators is the waste. Here in Europe everyone recycles and the trash is all very well organized and compacted for recycling. The applicators would be a lot of paper or plastic waste. The good news is, these tampons are teeny tiny for hiding in your pocket or purse. But I just don’t like the idea of having to use one of these in a public bathroom.
2 thoughts on “5 Things Americans Won’t Find in Europe”
Something else I haven’t been able to find in Austrian or German markets is heavy whipping cream. Normal cream, yes, but heavy whipping cream is in a lot of the deserts I make and I’ve not been able to find it yet.
Also about the tampons… yes! So strange and a little unsanitary.
Hi Claudia! I LOVE heavy whipping cream in my coffee and I also use it to make hot chocolate. If I remember correctly (and trust me, I bought a lot of “wrong” products when trying to find it), I think in Germany it is Schlagsahne and in Austria it is Schlagobers. I accidentally bought buttermilk once and another time it was some kind of drinkable yogurt. Oops! Then even once I figured it out, I would tell Chris to buy whatever has the heaviest amount of fat and that is the heavy cream. One day, he came home and announced he had found a really heavy fat version of 55%! I was confused because the percentage is usually in the 30s. Then I looked and there was a little minus sign next to the 55% so he was actually buying the low fat version. I remember when we first moved to Austria I used to spend hours at the store studying the words and looking them up on my phone. Then I would get home and write down what I bought and study. Chris has a cute phrase for when we are overseas and he says it a lot when we go out to eat: “Order what you want. Eat what you get!” Haha!