Monday, June 14, 2004


When people discover that I'm an American expat, they always ask the same darn question: “What do you miss about the US since you moved to Spain?”

My typical response is, “Besides my family, not too much.” After all, Spain isn’t exactly a third world country.

Not everybody is satisfied with this response. Some even mistake it for sarcasm. To the contrary, my response is one of optimism. I’m quite happy living in Spain, and shouldn’t be made to feel sorry for it.

But I am also a team player and as such, I’ve compiled the following shallow yet well-intentioned list for the benefit of those nosey folk who insist that there must be something…ANYTHING…that I miss about the US.


- National Public Radio: Yeah, yeah…I know that I can hear a live stream through the Internet, but it isn’t the same. Morning Edition should be savoured in a moving automobile; not through the tinny speakers of a Dell laptop.

- Buying English-language books in a store: Most large bookstores in Madrid carry several shelves of English-language novels, but they tend to be works by Dickens, Austen, and that crusty bunch. I’m not saying that being forced to read the classics is a bad thing, but sometimes – after a draining day of work – I prefer to curl up with a tale of Calvin Trillin’s latest dining adventure, rather than one of starving orphans forced to pick a pocket or two in Victorian London. God bless – but damn its shipping fees!

- The Food Network: Spain has its own home-grown version, but it’s a pale imitation. A cooking channel without Iron Chef just isn’t a cooking channel in my book.

- Pepper shakers on restaurant tables: C’mon! The infrastructure is already in place! Every restaurant table in Spain has a caddy for oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. So why is the pepper spot always empty?!

- Traffic lights located on the **other** side of the intersection.

- Light switches located on the inside of the bathroom.

- Reasonably authentic Cajun food.

- Reasonably authentic Mexican food.

- Drinks with more than two ice cubes.

- Restaurants with more than one waiter.

- Shopping from 2pm to 5pm, after 8pm, and on Sundays.

- The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

- JIF, Skippy and Peter Pan peanut butters.

- Bagels!

* * * * * * *

And in the interest of full disclosure…


- Driving to buy a loaf of bread.

- Shrimp without heads.

- Advertisements containing the phrase “Low Carb.”

- News sound-bites containing the phrase “the American people.”

- Jerry Springer, Geraldo Rivera and Ben Affleck.

- Country music.

- Exposed breast-o-phobia.

- Shag carpeting.

[Note: I would like to have added Fox News and JLo to this latter list, but it would be misleading. The truth is that I haven't been able to escape these two irritants...even by moving to Spain.]


At 8:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sal, tienes que pensar seriamente en publicar todo esto. Eres genial. Habla con Drew. Hay que buscar un editor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At 7:46 PM, Blogger carmen deltoro said...

Where would you place "My fellow Americans"?

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

I would place them in Disney World, where they can eat hot dogs and drink Diet Coke until the sun goes down.

At 9:01 PM, Blogger ironporer said...

One thing I did miss over there in my years, was being able to go shopping on a Sunday. Though being able to go out for tapas y vermut almost made up for it.


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