10 American Foods I Missed in France

Food Lists

It seems sacrilegious that I could possibly miss American foods while living in France, arguably one of the world’s greatest food countries. Yet despite my constant surroundings of croissants, cheap-yet-delicious wine, and expertly sourced bloomy cheeses, every so often I would get a hankering for comfort foods only America can offer. One thing you won’t find on this list? Bread. Nothing can replace my tradition baguettes.

1. Iced Coffee
Iced coffee is certainly one of the benefits to globalized Parisian society, but its abundance is nowhere near that of American cities. (No, Starbucks doesn’t count.)

2. Black Beans

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Black beans can generally only be found at select organic stores or well overpriced at American specialty stores in some parts of France. Lentils are typically the French legume of choice, making weekly homemade Mexican nights a(n expensive) struggle.

3. Velveeta Shells & Cheese

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Velveeta, despite its questionable origins, is my madeleine. It reminds me of home, of sitting on Virginia porches in the summer eating bowls of macaroni and cheese. Maybe it’s not really cheese, but I can’t help it. I love it.

4. Humboldt Fog

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Humboldt Fog, the vegetarian soft-ripened goat cheese from Cypress Grove in California, is a national treasure. It’s the creamy, ashy proof we need that America’s cheese movement is in full force.

5. sweetgreen

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Yes, there are a few spots in Paris where you can find salads to go (like Mister Garden or Jour). But nothing—nothing—compares to guacamole greens.

6. Delivery Chinese Food

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On more than one occasion my humble search for Chinese food (or, more specifically, moo shu) left me with delivery pages filled with sushi (yes—I am aware that isn’t even Chinese). I will be the first to send you to rue Sainte-Anne for some seriously spectacular udon and ramen when you want authentic Japanese cuisine, but I found an understandable gap in the market of Americanized Chinese food, which really is one of the best hangover cures.

7. Kale
anne kale.jpgPhoto by Anne Elder
In the Middle Ages, kale was found abundantly in Europe before going out of fashion. Modern times have thankfully seen a resurgence thanks to The Kale Project, though many produce salesmen in France would be quick to tell you that they don’t have everyone’s favorite superfood because it’s American. The sheer variety of kale to be found in America is worth getting excited over.

8. Peanut and Almond and Nut Butter Galore ()

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I’m not the only person who has accidentally bought Speculoos thinking it was peanut butter, right? At the risk of perpetrating the cliché known by any American who has ever lived abroad, I would love to live in a world where Jif was more widely exported overseas. (Though I’ve heard that instead of homemade peanut butter, French kids make homemade chocolate truffles at school. I would take that compromise.)

9. Chocolate chip cookies

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Though Phoebe Buffay claims her family’s secret recipe—the alleged Tool-haus family—is French, I would much rather splurge on religieuses and éclairs and save my chocolate chip cookie binge for Levain, stateside.

10. Talenti gelato

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I won’t deny that France is home to spectacular ice cream, from Berthillon on the Ile St-Louis to my favorite gelateria Alberto on rue Mouffetard. But to have so many flavors at your disposal in your own freezer? Magic.

Photo by Joseph Robertson, CC BY-SA 2.0

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