Most of those, who lived for some time abroad, tend to miss certain things. It doesn´t matter if we are talking about black beans for someone from the Caribbean, fish in any familiar form for the Japanese or a peanut butter sandwich for an American fella. I am not even sure if these examples are spot on but I dare to claim, if you are from Europe, these occasions, where you miss certain food, will maybe hit you harder than anybody else.
Although some lucky ones (like me in SE Asia) went to countries with great available food and should be happy about the abundance to find in those culinary h(e)avens. Still after a while far away from home you start to miss familiar comfort food – on some point or another. No perfect local cuisine can cope with that on the long run.
It hit me with simple bread and butter. I am not ashamed to admit being german. Germans are well known for their bread. But it is not the bread alone. In the glorious harmony with the perfect butter this combination will swipe you of your feet.
Most Americans would probably think of France first, when it comes to butter. What a mistake. But anyway. Just believe me, when I state, the best regular brand butter comes from Germany Bavaria and Switzerland (ok, in my opinion).
With this in mind you might understand, why after a certain time a German fellow abroad craves these things…. hard. And to find your `fix´ for these cravings is not easy. I can recall a similar experience when I did live in New York City for a while back in the early ’90s… the all time present hunt for a decent bread – and butter to go with that.
Sure, in Bangkok, like any other big city, you can buy all sorts of flown in (mostly french) brands of butter in the big Supermarkets in exchange for a significant part of your food purchase bill. But even if you at some point are willing to pay (nearly) any price, you wont find the good German (Bavarian) or Swiss butter. And in addition, where is the decent bread accompanying that? You can search a lot but you will never find it. No substitute, nothing even close to home and the familiar quality. Just take a glimpse at the famous Bavarian Hofpfisterei, something that people living in Munich take for granted, and you (maybe) get the idea.
So in the end you can only dream of finding something like your “comfort food bread” from home if you´re abroad.
Nonetheless the craving needs to be satisfied and I worked my way through some substitutes. Far from perfect but…
…see for yourself.
When the craving start to form, you shop around for bread and other stuff your paled craves. In my case it was french baguette and salad with sheep cheese.
It does the trick… at least for a while. So once or twice a weak, this was on my dinner table and with all the great choice of Thai and Japanese cuisine right outside the door, it was more than OK.
Unfortunately our inner demons are not so easy to cheat. And sooner than later comes the moment, where these nice but not fulfilling substitutes don´t do it anymore. You need the real stuff.
I spare you the quest or (small) Odyssey I had to endure, until I came up with this solution: Thai butter, slightly salted and bread from the Mandarin Oriental shop on the ground floor of the Paragon Shopping Center in Bangkok. Not perfect, but at this time, I was really happy with the result.
A whole while later a visitor from Munich brought me some bread – heavenly delightful, high quality nourishment, you wont get around the world this way. My first slices for breakfast had to be with butter and the classic `Nutella´ on top and I was really happy – if not in heaven of some sort.