If there is one place I love above all others it is, for sure, Pennsylvania. My mom and I hit some hot spots of Northeastern and Central PA yesterday.
The day started with picking up some Pitza and breads at Senape’s in Hazleton, a personal favorite of mine. I haven’t figured out how they make room temperature bread, tomatoes and a bit of cheese taste so heavenly, but I won’t question it.
mom going in for the kill
After stocking up on fresh-baked goods, we checked out Eckley Miner’s Village, where apparently someone in my family lived at one point. Despite the fact that the road was closed (and snow-covered) and we were only able to see a bit of it, it was still pretty cool to see.
just some old houses and lots of snow
thanks to the Verizon repairman for taking this pic
We capped off the journey with a stop in Jim Thorpe (“The Switzerland of America”… no lie) where I had pierogies for lunch at Hotel Switzerland (well, in the pub downstairs, anyway) and bought some awful postcards at the 5 and 10 on Main St.
I prefer the city’s old name, Mauch Chunk
I return to Germany forty-eight hours from now. Though I have yet to figure out how I’m going to carry all the groceries and Christmas presents I acquired over the last two weeks.
I just spent at least half an hour trying to make a Google map of all the places I went while I was in the US for 2 weeks. Epic fail. Suffice it to say, I was all over the PA turnpike, to Baltimore and back and seemingly everywhere in between.
I saw a dear friend get married, and at some point in the evening my nose ring disappeared.
I visited my favorite place on earth, in Middle River, MD and got to see ‘adoptive’ family members in MD and PA (I am well-loved by my friends’ families)
I ate a whole pack of Taylor Ham and got my hands on some sharp cheddar cheese and Thomas’ English muffins to go with it. Additionally I enjoyed crabs smothered in Old Bay, sweet corn on the cob, Italian water ice, gravy fries, a crab-stuffed monte cristo, a huge Italian hoagie, and enjoyed an avocado and bacon omelette while surrounded by dismembered baby doll heads and millions of PEZ dispensers.
I also saw my actual family, and it always surprises me that my young cousins remember who I am after I abandon them for a large majority of the year.
All in all, not a bad way to spend two weeks in July.
This is how our school 4th of July party started:
already missing a few biers, actually
I’m sure you can guess how it ended.
In between there were: cheeseburgers and roasted marshmallows, games of flip cup, beer pong and kickball, a sea of red white and blue, and a rousing rendition of God Bless America in the lecture hall.
As innovative business school students, my class is always trying to come up with ways to raise money for our upcoming graduation party (which, if this school year has been any indication, will have to be one hell of a rager).
As a fundraiser, last night we had an American foods raffle. One of the girls in our class acquired Doritos, Fritos, salsa, Pop Tarts, microwave popcorn, and a slew of other American products.
After a silent auction, I walked away with a box of Wheat Thins, Kraft Mac and Cheese, and a bottle of ibuprofen. I’ve already cracked into the Wheat Thins, have a feeling I’ll be needing the ibuprofen tomorrow (happy birthday to me!) and am saving the Mac and Cheese for a bad day.
I may have spent 20 euro on about $6 worth of products, but I was going to pay for the graduation party anyway, might as well get some American comforts out of the deal!
I’ve had a cold since school started up again last Monday. I spent two days home sick in bed and most of the weekend doing the same, there are dirty tissues (actually toilet paper… ran out of tissues about a week ago) strewn across my apartment floor, and empty cartons of various juices are piling up next to my garbage can.
And yet the excuse to sleep for 10+ hours a night is enough to keep me from wanting to fully recover… the lack of a relaxing winter break has me yearning for being in bed past noon and staying in the same dirty pajamas for multiple days.
I thrive in filth, apparently.
(Also, shipments of American medicines will never be turned down. This country has yet to see the merits of 500 count bottles of ibuprofen.)
I’ve only been away from America for a little over 2 months and I’m already desperately missing some things.
1) Cheddar Cheese. Upon my return to Pennsylvania I request that a block of this orange delight be waiting with my name on it in the fridge at my parents’ house (ahem… looking at you Rick and Lorraine). The grocery stores here literally have aisles of cheese products the size of my entire apartment, but alas no cheddar to be found.
2) Dunkin Donuts. I don’t care how many cute little bakeries with piles and piles of pastries I see, all I want is a medium hazelnut iced coffee with cream and sugar and a bacon egg and cheese on a toasted english muffin (or sesame bagel… or both I guess). This was the last meal I had before I left America and I’m already craving the overly-sweet coffee and rubbery egg product with mystery meat.
3) Potato Chips. I’m sure with a little effort I could find a bag of Lays in Hannover. However due to budgetary restraints, I’m not about to shell out 4 euro for a snack that may not even be the same as the original version. German potato chips are like German food in general: lacking flavor. Get me some Ruffles with Ridges and a bowl of onion dip, stat. (Note: Pringles do seem to be everywhere but really… they don’t count.)
4) Sofa+TV. Now, we do have a bangin couch at school (it reclines. perfect place to catch a few winks between classes) but Sunday’s just aren’t the same when I’m propped up awkwardly on some pillows in my (tiny) bed and waiting for (illegal?) American TV shows to buffer on my laptop which is sitting on my nightstand. What I really want is to sprawl out on the couch with a flat screen bigger than my body so I can watch Americas Next Top Model and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in life-size. On my 11 days off from learning I might try to seek out a cheap couch to add to my apartment. We shall see.
5) Peanut Butter. Despite the fact that Nutella is freaking everywhere, peanut butter is a commodity not so easily found here. And I’m not just talking about a jar, but think about how many ways one can consume peanut butter in America. No Reese’s PB Cups. No PB cookies. No PB&J sandwiches. No Tandycakes. No Ants on a Log (ok maybe I’m grasping at straws now… you get the point.)
It may be no small coincidence that the things I miss the most are food… I certainly don’t miss driving (I much prefer riding my bike or taking public transportation.) and I’ve been able to keep up with American TV thanks to the Internets. I’m sure I could come up with more things I miss but this list is quickly becoming “My favorite foods” so I’ll quit now.
Care packages accepted 🙂
Today I decided to go with the flow (and temporarily forget about my newly-imposed budget) and go to McDonald’s for a lunch with some American friends.
I don’t even eat this stuff in America, but something about David talking about a juicy burger for quite some time put me in a serious mood. I went full force on this, getting a Royal Hamburger TS with fries and a Coke. Not a Diet Coke but the real fucking deal.
It was the most delicious thing I have had in months (or at least it felt that way). Maybe it was because I’ve become a functional vegetarian since moving to Germany, or because my diet is seriously lacking in high fructose corn syrup, but I scarfed down that burger and fries like it was my last meal on earth.
And not twenty minutes later, I thought I was going to barf. 5 hours later, my stomach is still reeling.
God Bless America.
(Sorry no picture of me eating this Meal of Champions… I was too focused on eating to worry about finding my camera)