We’ve been in Italy for nearly four months, but it is starting to feel as though we’ve been here forever. The first sign of homesickness for me is the cravings I’m having for foods that I simply can’t find on a small island in Italy. I know what you’re thinking. The cuisine here, especially when cooked by the natives is superb, so why am I complaining? You’re absolutely right. When I’m in the States, I sometimes long for those fresh, melt-in-your mouth mussels and clams that I eat here. And I yearn for a Neapolitan tomato or pizza. But while I’m here in Ischia, I want tacos piled high with cheddar cheese and guacamole and lo mein and steamed pork dumplings and – God help me – I NEED a hamburger, a real American hamburger with a hot dog on the side. Of course, who could live without bacon? I know who. The Italians. They just don’t know what they’re missing. Indeed, I want that hamburger and that hot dog wrapped in thick, center-cut, smoky bacon with cole slaw and pickles and greasy New Jersey diner French fries on the side. There, I’ve done it. That’s the menu for my return to America next year. We better book an appointment with the emergency room, too, because if I eat all that I’ll probably go into cardiac arrest.
Obviously, Baby Boy and I are also big fans of bagels from the tri-state area (see photo above). We can’t even get those when we head south to Florida. In fact, it’s the one thing my sister, who lives in Florida, requests whenever she comes home to Jersey. And, in an ironic twist of fate, after having introduced Italian friends and family to the wonders of bagels, they request them when we return to Ischia, too. Yep, we have actually brought a dozen bagels (and come to think of it a dozen Dunkin’ Donuts) in our carry-on luggage as a souvenir for the Italians. We have also brought Italian sausage, marinated artichokes, and imported prosciutto (Italian ham), all of which are super available in Jersey where the majority of Italian Americans live, to my sister in Florida. Why am I telling you this? For Italians, food is home. Even if you are far, far away from the land that you love, you can get a taste of it in every bite of its cuisine. My heart is grumbling with hunger for New Jersey right now.