Avoiding Crisis

cheetos, doritos and fritos, oh my!

with 6 comments

Years ago, before I ever lived overseas, I went to Vermont with a friend to enjoy the beautiful fall weather, to hike and just hang out. While we were there, we drove to Waterbury and went on a tour of the Ben & Jerry’s factory. At the end of the tour the guide gave us samples and then told us a story about how in Japan Ben & Jerry’s is packaged differently (it comes in much smaller quantities) and how on one occasion an ice cream name had to be changed (Chunky Monkey translated into Japanese meant Chunks of Monkey).

I love this story for two reasons. 1) the whole language issue was interesting and thought provoking and 2) it made me realize we American’s have a really messed up sense of what is acceptable to eat in one sitting.

Living overseas you learn that the latter is SO true. American’s, the ones from the good old United States of America that is, really do have awful eating habits.

Last time we went back to the States (which has only been once in almost 2 years) we flew into Kennedy Airport in NY. As we were walking to the meet and greet area we passed by a bunch of kiosks. Immediately my husband stopped and stared at a croissant that was for sale at a bakery stand. He was mesmerized by this croissant. He couldn’t pull himself away from looking at this croissant. And it wasn’t because he wanted one to eat but because of the sheer size of it. If placed on a typical sized dinner plate the croissant would have taken up over half the plate. And I’m not exaggerating. It was HUGE.

In Argentina it is common to have medialunas for breakfast, these are small croissant like pastries. A medialuna can fit into the palm of your hand.

I walked away from this experience with the realization that, yes, indeed, what other people say about American eating habits are so true – we they really are big fat pigs who eat way too much. (Okay, so that’s a bit harsh, but you know what I mean, right?)

Over the past four years, I’ve kinda gotten away from being a typical American with respect to eating. That was, until the other day, when the big-fat-over-eating American in me reared its ugly head.

Oh, how embarrassing it is to admit this.

My husband came home with $50 worth of groceries. These groceries weren’t bought in just any store. They were purchased in a small store that we have inside the US Embassy. This store, or commissary as it is called, receives shipments from the US several times a year. In these shipments are all sorts of goodies from the United States. Items that you either can’t get on the local market (like cheerios) or you can get on the local market but either the quality is low (paper products) or the price is really high (salad dressings).

Here’s what my husband came home with.


And yes, this along with a few other items did in fact cost $50!!!!

Oh yeah, and missing from this menagerie is a bag of Fritos. Those were already finished at the time this photo was taken, one day after the items showed up on my kitchen table.

If I took the same picture today, less than a week after these items arrived, the Cheetos and one bag of Doritos would also be missing and the box of strawberry pop tarts would be opened. (Note: I do not eat strawberry Pop Tarts. Now had they been chocolate Pop Tarts then the entire box would have already been gone.)

Here’s the thing, when you live overseas, after about a year, you begin to forget about all those things that you can buy in any typical US supermarket. (Okay, most of the stuff. You can never really forget about peanut butter and grape jelly, especially when you have kids.) But then, on the rare occasion, when you can buy these items, you immediately forget all about the fact that you don’t need them nor should you be consuming them and you can’t help yourself but buy everything you see. It’s a condition we all suffer from on occasion. My husband more often than others.

If this is his reaction when given the limited selection that we have in the commissary imagine what will happen when we do finally get back to the States and go to a real grocery store, or worse, to Target. God help us.

Here’s another thing about these items he brought home. Among them are two bags of Doritos. One is a flavor called Black Pepper Jack and the other Blazin’ Buffalo Ranch. What the…? Where did these flavors come from? I haven’t been out of the States that long, but my gosh, how many freakin’ flavors of Doritos are there? Growing up I remember the regular Nacho flavor (that my twin brother loved) and then they introduced the Cool Ranch (which I loved). That was a bout it. Maybe there was one or two other flavors but I never paid too much attention to them.

Seriously, though, I think when I go back to the states I’m going to be in for a real shock at just how many varieties of things there are and how many new products have come out. Just imagine how long it will take me to get through one aisle in a Target. Can we say sensory overload.

Well, I’m off to get the kids from school and then to have lunch. I think PB&J with a side of Doritos should do and maybe I’ll have to try one of those pop tarts for dessert. 😉

I’m definitely going to need that detox diet after this.


Written by nicolemarie

May 14, 2007 at 11:52 am

Posted in food, personal

6 Responses

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  1. Target is the devil. Just walking into that store money starts seeping out of my bank account.

    One time I went in and came out having not spent any money. I thought the apocalypse was coming.


    May 14, 2007 at 3:23 pm

  2. Ha Ha….it is so TRUE about Target. What is it about that store?? Whenever I came back to the states from Germany I would immediatley go to Target and just walk down the aisles. I would touch different items…just to touch them. And yes, I was always shocked at all the “new” stuff, too. Thank heavens for Target.


    May 14, 2007 at 7:24 pm

  3. Yes! We have John’s parents bringing us the grape jelly. The kids and John (not really me!) have already gone through two bags of Chips Ahoy…shameful!


    May 14, 2007 at 9:21 pm

  4. I can relate. When I lived in Pakistan I dreamt about food…about supermarkets…about the cheese section…all the cheese. But, you learn to live with fewer options. The first time I came back and went to a grocery store I thought I was in heaven. I could actually choose from an entire aisle’s worth of cereal and none of it had long since expired! It was amazing.

    But, yea, we eat too much in the states!


    May 15, 2007 at 8:41 am

  5. I think you will be just fine when you return to the US – I’m sure some of the food has more of a sentimental attachment than anything else and after an initial binge you’ll be all set. I for one can’t stand all the selection at mega stores and I avoid them whenever possible except for necessities that are just cheaper at them.


    May 16, 2007 at 3:04 pm

  6. Well, I have to agree with everything you said. We were in Burma for 2 years. We just got back to US. My mother-in-law took me to the grocery store. I didn’t know where to begin. I was in Heaven. You think it is hard to be in South America. Try southeasia!!It is so hard!!!


    May 20, 2007 at 6:12 pm

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