I think that one of the things that all expats probably have in common is missing something from ‘back home’. Most often people – I miss my mum, the daily Skype chat is not quite the same; sometimes places, I miss wandering around the local town, meeting friends for lunch, shopping in lovely shops; miss watching British television. And I definitely miss the food more than anything. My missing food list is endless, from blackberry crumble and real cream, lamb chops mint sauce and new potatoes, Thai, Indian and Chinese takeaways, dumplings, bisto and anything from Marks and Spencer food halls. I miss Cadbury chocolate, drinking chocolate, parsnips, English peas, cheddar cheese…..I could go on and on.However, there is one fantastic advantage to missing things. When you eventually encounter them at last, the pleasure is multiplied a thousand times.
I cannot get mushrooms where I live, and very occasionally someone will bring me some. I cannot tell you the total amazing pleasure there is in eating a mushroom, when you haven’t had one for a year or more. The anticipation is almost as good. I will look at them and think of all the different ways I might eat them – a mushroom omelette, or a traditional British breakfast with fried egg, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, or maybe on toast with Worcestershire sauce. I never eat them straight away, spending at least a couple of days dreaming about what they will taste like, and how much I will enjoy them.
I am the same with parsnips, which I have tried to grow here with no success and when people bring me them from England, even before their plane has left the runway in the UK I am salivating at the idea of roast parsnips.
Interestingly, my emotion of missing things is less painful than the pleasure I have when I can experience them again. Just like people come on holiday to the Dominican Republic and love sitting out in the sun as they do not see it that often in the UK, I who live all year round in the DR, will never sit in the sun, and love cloudy and rainy days for a change. I think everyone misses what they can’t have straight away.
Over the last 3 years I have been living in a place with very limited electricity and so I could not have a proper fridge. This means that you cannot do a big shop in a nice supermarket as most things would go off, especially in the heat and I had to shop daily in the corner store, which had a very limited range of food. I have now moved to a place which has electricity and I have a proper fridge. I cannot tell you the pleasure I feel every time I look at the fridge, let alone open it. And when I open it and see juice and yoghurt, cheese and ham, it is simply pure magic and I can’t stop a big grin coming over my face. I had no idea that I would ever get quite so excited over a fridge.
I think the moral of this is that you should appreciate what you have, however insignificant it might be, and that although it is hard when you miss people, places and food from your homeland, it is worth it for the heightened anticipation and then pleasure when you see them or experience them again.
Now when will anyone bring me a walnut whip and a jar of Hartley’s strawberry jam?
Lindsay de Feliz lives in the middle of nowhere in the Dominican Republic with her Dominican husband, one stepson, 8 cats and 3 dogs. She was formerly Marketing Director of various financial companies in the City of London, and left the UK around 11 years ago to travel the world as a scuba diving instructor. She eventually came to the Dominican Republic on a 6 month contract, fell in love with the country and its people and stayed. Lindsay has a blog www.yoursaucepans.blogspot.com and is currently writing a book about her experiences over the last 10 years.
Lindsay de Feliz is the author of What About Your Saucepans? Published by Summertime and available on Amazon in both book and kindle versions.
Read Lindsay's other Expat Focus articles here