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Friend of mine and I were chatting this morning over Dutch koffie-verkeerd about the multitude of differences between life in Europe and life in America – especially… Southern California.

I hope she’s okay with me ‘borrowing’ that conversation – because it has been all over my frontal lobe the rest of the day. Especially the unique twist we talked about – yes… life is different here. But what is the SAME?

She posed that question… and we were both… stumped.

The answer: Nothing is the same. There are similarities – like music. Elton John may be everywhere.. But those are just common cores and then you add to that all the ADDITIONAL sounds of Dutch music and French music and and and…

The toothpaste is different. The wine is different – and better. The food is different – and better! The weather is different. The way people LIVE is different. The smell is different. The clothes are different. The cars are different. The work day is different. The tampons are different. The doctors are different. The art is different. The reason for going to a bar is different. The length of summer day light hours is different.

Summertime in Amsterdam

Get my drift?

It’s part of what makes it hard to be an expat. But it’s part of what I love as well. The complete and total difference without being overwhelmed by new. It’s just… different.

Doesn’t mean Southern California has nothing to give – with those dazzling white beaches and blue skies; that smell of guacamole and salsa and sunscreen and car exhaust…

It’s just… different.

And one of the key differences for me – is the food. I am not a food snob – if you know me well you will know that I love foie gras – but have no compulsion against saying no to a McDonald’s Blizzard (Oreo, please) or a true personal secret love: Jack in the Box’s stuffed jalapeno poppers.

But come on – those are momentary thrills. Experiences that leave you wondering  ‘What did I eat yesterday?’ In six weeks in San Diego – I can only clearly recall the details of one meal. And that was a very non-American meal! Cheese-filled Bratwurst with potatoes baked in dill and oregano paired with a cocktail made of champagne -framboise- and ginger… Craft and Commerce (Little Italy – San Diego), with the family of my heart – Elizabeth. YUM.

Less than a week later in Europe: plum-filled cognac pancakes, home-made bread, artichoke dip, WINE, chicken stuffed with sage, tomato-caper-olive-bell-pepper-spicy-yummminess sauce with pasta, home-made zabaione, lamb-ribs so succulent that they disappear as you cut them…

And the tour de force: dinner with the dadz and a friend… Please note. Dad Number One was cooking since 11 am… and was cheerfully enjoying repeating that announcement.

First course: White asparagus soup. (My contribution! WHOOP! Not the soup… but the asparagus. Not from a can – I KNOW! but from the market. Fresh. And obscenely huge. SO flavorful)

Second course: Foie gras served on home made meringues and with raisin toast, baked pears and stilton cheese.

Salmon and mackerel potato salad

Third course: Salmon and mackerel mixed with potatoes and celery to make a salad – served on a bed of greens with a tereyaki dressing.

Fourth course: Quail stuffed with risotto and served with asparagus.

Fifth course: DESSERT! :) Home-made rum-raisin ice-cream between two layers of handmade chocolate meringue.


Similarity between Europe and Southern California: I need time in the gym!

End all of desserts…