HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


what i crave when i come back home to states

One of the first things i always want is an IPA, a very seriously fucking hoppy IPA. Then a taco. Then corned beef or pastrami.
Pretty much every time I leave the country, no matter where I go, I come home wanting these things (home is LA, it has been SC and chicago).
What do you guys crave when away from home?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. We live in Dubai, and it's not the worst place in the world for food, far from it, and especially if you love Indian and Lebanese food.

    But whenever we return to the US, I always have my mother make her fried chicken and sour cherry pie.

    Then the next night I grill a proper steak.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Roland Parker

      I have a friend who doesn't drink much but recently moved to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Never much of a drinker or a huge fan of pork products, she claims that ever since stepping off the airplane, she's been craving a beer and a BLT.

      My one really bad craving is Diet Mountain Dew. I can find a substitute for almost all of my other cravings. Fortunately, my home airport carries it. I buy a bottle (even at airport prices) the minute I'm off the plane.

    2. When I go to Taiwan, I come back craving beef. Any kind of beef. A great burger, a seared steak, carne asada. It's a combination of walking around all day in the humidity building up a mean appetite and being in a culture that's all about pork.

      18 Replies
      1. re: Pei

        I have to say, a good steak. They just don't have good beef in Europe.

        1. re: polish_girl

          that's a ridiculous statement - sorry but it is.

          1. re: smartie

            Agreed. Not discounting the fact that Europe is quite a big place.

            1. re: Soop

              Well I don't know about the whole of Europe, but I have to say I lived in the UK for 6 years, and I NEVER had good beef - not once.
              So I don't know how far off Polish girl is because seriously the beef was horrific in the UK

              So......I used to CRAVE a good hamburger....and I mean crave one seriously, and nothing was a good substitute...also used to really crave a New York slice of pizza allot.....
              Now that I'm back I do crave an English sausage roll now and then!
              Oh and a good tuna-sweetcorn baquette

              1. re: NellyNel

                The beef in ireland isn't very good, at least that I was able to find. I've seen this Bobby Flay special where he talks about how good Irish beef is. Not my experience. Great cheese, grissly beef.

                1. re: southernitalian

                  I didn't mean to cause trouble, but that's what the Europeans are saying themselves . If you want to have a good steak pretty much anywhere in Europe, they will offer you Argentinian beef, 3xthe price, but quite good. I heard from a lot of people from various European countries that beef there is not tender and not flavorful. Don't know why, maybe it's the variety they grow?
                  I remember my mom trying to make beef bullion- she would cook the meat for hours and it would never get tender. All you could make from it was goulash and such.
                  Also, I had a lot of visitors from Europe over the last 20 years, and all they ever craved in the US was a good steak or tri tip.

                  1. re: polish_girl

                    I have a feeling your statement may not be that far off, as I have heard the beef in Italy is not very enjoyable either, and I never saw it while traveling through several other countries!

                    I also have to say I thought smarties response to you was a bit harsh.

                    1. re: NellyNel

                      I've been in England for 6 years now and have never had a roast beef like back home (NY). I have had good briskets and stews and other beef dishes that are slow-cooked, but roast beef and steak? Not really.

                      The problem for me is that I wonder if it's because beef in the UK is not factory farmed like it is widely in the US.

                      I also just wanted to mention that I've had wonderful steak in Italy. Very quickly seared bistecca fiorentina with a nice sprinkling of salt and a splash of olive oil is delicious.

                      1. re: Kagey

                        With all due respect, you can't compare a Bistecca Fiorentina with beef that the majority of Italians eat on a daily basis. And from my experience in the Veneto region, the beef is very tough and not very flavourful, even when purchased from very reputable butcher. Every time my inlaws come to Canada, they always request a big juicy steak.
                        In that regard though, I can't take my experience in one region of Italy and make a blanket statement for all countries in Europe.

                      2. re: NellyNel

                        Kagey is certainly right about bistecca fiorentina, marvelous. And maybe you've heard of Charolais beef from France?

                        I've had great roast beef while in the Auvergne in France. But they don't cook it and serve it in the same way as in the US. I've found that people in Europe are not as interested in large, thick slabs of simply cooked meat as in the US.

                        I've met folks from Kenya and Ethiopia in Washington, DC where I live that bemoan the lack of quality beef in the US. It's not raised the same as back home, and the flavor is different.

                        1. re: Steve

                          Most beef in the US is corn fed and has a different flavour. However, Smarties comment that it's a ridiculous statement stands up.

                          I've had good beef and bad beef (in the UK), and my question is, where are you getting your beef? It doesn't all come from the same place, or even the same cow. Therefore, there will be differences. Is it grass-fed? Is it organic? Is it aged?

                          The trick is to go to a butcher and get a nice aged steak, look at the marbling of the fat, and to cook it correctly.

                          Saying that there is no good beef in an entire continent does seem to lend itself to criticism.

                      3. re: polish_girl

                        I was just going to post that I just got back from three weeks in Argentina (more or less), and I won't be eating steak for a while.

                        I came back craving Chinese take out and a baked potato.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          That's how I feel at the end of every one my annual holidays in southwestern France. After a 2-week foie gras cure, I start dreaming of an Asian broth or, le comble, congee.
                          When I go back to the US, usually to SF, I try to seek out good TexMex. Or good Cantonese. Can't get those in Paris.

                    2. re: NellyNel

                      >>So......I used to CRAVE a good hamburger....and I mean crave one seriously, and nothing was a good substitute...also used to really crave a New York slice of pizza allot....<<

                      I'm pretty much the same - for some reason, as I'm reaching the end of a trip in places like Singapore or Malaysia, the irresistible urge for a burger or big nasty pizza comes over me. I'm guessing it's because while in places like those mentioned, noodles and rice dominate so many meals. It's funny because I don't eat burgers very often anymore, and pizza is now maybe once every couple of months at best as well.

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        Ditto on the burger - big & juicy, seasoned with nothing more than salt & pepper. I've had way too many "burgers" over my many years doing business in Europe that were horribly overcooked and overseasoned.

                        1. re: bulavinaka

                          That's exactly the feeling I was trying to describe above. Something about the carb heavy diet and lack of red meat. Even when there is meat, it's usually pork, chicken, or seafood. Very little red meat, and certainly not medium rare or bloody red meat. And pizza? Forget about it. I wouldn't risk ordering it and finding canned corn on top (true story)

                          1. re: Pei

                            The tragedy about the beef not being very good in the UK is that whether you eat it or not, and you live there for longer than 6 months, you are banned from donating blood in the US. Yay BSE!

                2. re: Pei

                  Oh yes, beef. I've been in China for 10 months and all I can think about is a Chicago Italian beef sandwich, piled high with giardiniera, soaked in meat juices.

                  Other stuff I can't make for myself: Tacos al pastor, two thin corn tortillas with a scoop of spit-roasted pork, onions, cilantro and green salsa. Mall food court Chinese food, like bourbon chicken over fried noodles and cabbage-filled egg roll. Char siu bao and ga li jiao, it's funny, but I can find these more easily in Chinatown than I can in Beijing. Hardee's breakfast biscuits and chili dogs. Taiwanese beef noodes and cold sesame noodles made by my parents. Knob Creek bourbon on the rocks. Totino's frozen pizza, still the most fun you can have for $1. An American gyro, sliced from the processed loaf, nothing fancy. Chef Boyardee ravioli and Spaghettios with the little hot dogs inside.

                  COLD WATER IN RESTAURANTS! Chinese people drink hot water and hot tea even when it's a jillion degrees outside!

                3. A big ol' bean and cheese burrito with serrano chiles, sour cream and lots of kick ass hot sauce..followed by a cheese quesadilla with guac and a cold beer!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    Agree whole-heartedly w/ the Mexican craving. Stationed in Germany for three years I eventually got very, very sad. They put everything from zucchini to carrots to peas in their burritos, their salsa is actually ketchup w/ chili sauce, and was once served thai peanut sauce w/ tortilla chips. Most serious craving was for a fish taco which is hard to find in DC where I'm stationed now, had to wait until vacation to San Diego to really satisfy the craving.

                  2. What's an IPA?

                    I always want a BLT. Actually, almost any sandwich is better at home. I was in Germany recently, and while the meats, breads, and mustards were wonderful on their own, the combination, when put into a sandwich just did not work.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: phofiend

                      India Pale Ale. A strong ale supposedly developed for the British army in India the collonial days. I believe it was brewed stronger so they'd have to drink less, and thus carry less. That didn't happen, obviously ;)

                      1. re: Soop

                        I thought IPA's were brewed extra hoppy because it made a more sturdy beer and could stand up to shipping in those days....

                          1. re: Soop

                            yes - IPAs originally made by british. US small brewers have made extraorindary advances in this style over the last 20 years specifically. SO a british IPA doesn't cut it for me. some people don't like the very strong floral scent of so many hops, but it is something i deeply crave when out of the country - there is just no other beer that can approx. a san diego style IPA.
                            (just as i'd always prefer a german lager or czech pislner of course to the american versions.)

                          1. Living in Germany, I miss mexican and chinese food (particularly dim sum) the most. I also miss spices that aren't paprika. :x

                            edit: and seafood!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: zootzie

                              Where in Germany are you? (Good) Mexican and (good) Chinese are hard to come by, I admit. And hey, you don't just have to use paprika. There's always maggi '-)

                              I hear ya about the seafood: available, but massively expensive. I almost never buy seafood in Germany. Well, save for smoked fish. That stuff's awesome, and not crazy expensive.

                              1. re: linguafood

                                I'm in Heidelberg. The smoked stuff is definitely good, but my Dr told me to lay off it since I'm pregnant. Well, I can heat it up and eat it, but I greatly prefer it cold. Boo!

                            2. I've had fabulous beef and many delicious sandwiches in Europe.
                              When I come home from vacation, I want an American burger and something southern.

                              1. Ice. Ice. Baby.

                                Tons of it. In a big gulp cup. With just a suggestion of diet coke.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                                  LOL! Agreed, except for the diet coke part.

                                  1. re: Jen76

                                    Bwah! I think "ice" freezes at a different temp in the UK, as drinks advertised as "ice cold" are NOT.

                                    1. re: coney with everything

                                      This seems to be true.
                                      Come to think of it, I think there's an enormous difference in temperature between closed fridges, and the "chillers" you get in supermarkets which aren't closed.

                                      I'd agree though, that a lot of canned sodas sold to be consumed on the spot are NOT an optimal temperature.

                                      1. re: coney with everything

                                        There is a difference in drink temperatures. Not universal, but statistically significant. The USA is a hotter place. You want your beer cold. Usually a good idea as it is frequently tasteless. You want a lot of ice with your whisky, gin, vodka, rum etc. You also want a lot of mixer. So I frequently see a rum and coke made in a half pint glass. A shot of rum, enough ice to to make a small but significant iceberg and finally topped to the brim with reconstituted coke. Now I prefer my rum neat. If I want it cold I will chill it. If I want ice then just enough that the ice has just disappeared by the time I finish my drink. It is a cultural thing. I like to taste the rum and not the coke.

                                        However, I have been somewhat isolated in my views over the last 15 years.

                                        1. re: Paulustrious

                                          at least in many of the bars i was recently in in czech, hungary and serbia, the opposite is the case paulustrious: in the us, the typical way to make a rum and coke or any soda and coke configuration is to put ice in the glass, fill it almost to the top with the requested liquor, then splash in some small amount of soda on top.
                                          Not so in the countries i mentioned: if you order a rum and coke etc. , you get a glass with the liquor in it and a whole bottle of coke (not the US 12 oz. but about 10-11) and ice.

                                          so the idea that americans want a lot of mixer in their cocktails is completely bogus from my perspective: i've never seen a bartender put more than 50% mixer ina cocktail (i'm not talking about 5+ ingredient specialty beverages - just the basics.) and 50% would be very high.
                                          could just be that i'm hanging out in thickly alcohol infested places, but i find that hard to believe considering the quantity of bars i've been in around the globe and around the US.

                                          1. re: mr mouther

                                            It wasn't that way in Miami, and it definitely isn't in Canada.

                                            Now in Jamaica I've seen a LOT of booze in a single bar glass.

                                            1. re: Paulustrious

                                              all i can vouch for is chicago, LA, south carolina and atlanta. and the 200 bars ive been to in those cities

                                            2. re: mr mouther

                                              Oh I miss the way I would get my Gin & Tonics in England.

                                              They would put ice, lemon and gin in a skinny glass and ALWAYS serve the tonic in a little glass botlle on the side.
                                              It suited me so much better to be able to add as much or as little tonic as I liked.

                                              1. re: NellyNel

                                                I miss a well-served pernod also: half-liter bottle of water, glass of ice with stirrer, glass of pernod, empty glass to configure as you like.

                                      1. re: Paulustrious

                                        I agree. I just got back from two weeks in Italy and one week in England and when I rolled out of bed the first morning back the only thing I could think of that appealed to me for breakfast (and I was really hungry!) was pho. Fortunately that was a craving I could satisfy quickly and easily!

                                      2. For me, its what I crave from the US when I'm at home - in Bolivia, the Philippines and elsewhere in Asia, and for the last 16 years in Colombia: bagels, English muffins, good bread, cheddar cheese, sauerkraut, pickle chips, US domestic beers (Bud, Pabst, ...) and more. My desires for eating out depend on where I traveled recently, but can inlude: Mexican, Szechuan, Japanese, Armenian, Basque, ...

                                        If I haven't been to Asia or Mexico for a bit, I bring back: masa harina, corn husks, dried chiles, corn tortillas, Coleman's mustard powder, wasabi, nori, California Japanese rice, pickled vegetables, canned smoked eel, hon-dashi, wakame, aburage, konyaku, soba noodles, toasted sesame oil, fermented black beans, and much more.

                                        1. I don't live in the US but when I'm down yonder to visit the in-laws, a trip to Dreamland for a rack of ribs is always on the menu. The only exceptions to that is if we go somewhere else for ribs. And only if they're good.

                                          When I return home, bread. Can't get great bread when we go.


                                            1. * A dirty martini - or, really, a martini of any kind
                                              * Good Indian food - the stuff here in France is really watered-down for the French palate. No heat, not much spice, and overpriced.
                                              * Boca Bratwursts
                                              * A burrito
                                              * A huge, strong, take-away cup of coffee!

                                              1. - Chinese food in SF
                                                - Bbq potato chips

                                                1. On a trip back from the Middle East I gorged on BBQ beans and chips. I felt like I was in heaven!

                                                  1. a burger cooked to order.

                                                    1. Have been out of the states for 10 years - the last 4 spent in Spain. When I go home to Texas, I can't wait to have BBQ beef brisket, tamales, grits, spicy Jimmy Dean sausage, fried okra and Shiner Bock beer! Heaven help my cholesterol!!!

                                                      1. Just got back from a year in Taiwan. The things I missed the most were rye toast slathered with butter, onion bagels, and PIE! I've been back for 3 months, and all I want is good Taiwanese food. Ahh.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: sourgirl

                                                          When I first left the US for Bolivia for three years in the mid 70s, all we thought about was the food we were missing. It took about 6 months of eating to get over that. But more than 30 more years have passed missing some of the Bolivian foods. The lesson has served me well: really eat and enjoy whereever I'm living and working.

                                                        2. Could we open up this topic a bit so people outside the US can join in? It would seem pointless for me to start up a "what I crave when I come home to Québec" topic, especially as I hate poutine.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                            1. re: BobB

                                                              That would be rather overkill, non?

                                                              Like some others here, if I've been on a stay in Italy, my first craving upon returning to Montréal is definitely something Chinese or Southeast Asian. I also travel to the Netherlands at least once a year, and then what I crave is a decent baguette!

                                                          1. I lived in the UK for almost 8 years and everytime I came home to SoCal for a visit, I'd crave Asian food - my mom's Korean cooking, good Szechuan, Vietnamese pho, tons of Japanese sushi - and a pit stop at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for one of their ice blended drinks.

                                                            I'm back in the US now but still miss the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf since they don't have stores on the East Coast.

                                                            1. Cookies. Plain ol' chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin or the like. I lived in Ireland for a bit and have backpacked Europe a few times, and a proper cookie (soft in the middle and just a hint of crisp around the edges) is nowhere to be found.

                                                              A good bagel with cream cheese and possibly lox is another craving I get, as well as nice big salads with baby greens, fresh tomato, and avocado. I've found a lot of iceberg and butter lettuces on my travels, but rarely the darker, more flavorful greens and almost never in an entree-sized portion except at British takeaway shops.

                                                              1. Usually, I'd probably have to say a decent burger or steak, but thankfully, my hometown has been catching up... in fact, having a big fact cheezburger tonight at The Bird. Yowzah.