Food on Fridays: Europe Comes to America

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Here at the Food on Fridays carnival, any post remotely related to food is welcome—though we love to try new dishes, your post doesn’t have to be a recipe.If you want, you could simply tell us how many M&Ms you would eat if left alone with nobody watching.My point is that we’re pretty relaxed over here, and posts like that are as welcome as menus and recipes.When your Food on Fridays contribution is ready, just grab the broccoli button (the big one above or smaller option at the bottom) to paste at the top of your post. It ties us together visually.Then fill in the boxes of Simply Linked to join the fun!

Food on Fridays with Ann

This week, has launched a Crossing Cultures Community Writing Project, hosted by Dena Dyer at her blog, “Mother Inferior.” With it being Food on Fridays over here today, I’ve been thinking about the writing project in relation to food.When I visited my husband’s family in Belgium on our honeymoon, I tasted Nutella for the first time. A life-altering moment.As I had never seen this product on the supermarket shelves in the United States, we bought three jars of Nutella and tucked them, wrapped in T-shirts, into our suitcases to bring back with us. We rationed them out over weeks and months, and when they ran out, I was inconsolable. When we scheduled our next trip to Belgium, I was as excited about the prospect of replenishing my supply of Nutella as I was about seeing family! I’m kidding. Kind of. Anyway, his family understands my love of the stuff. They love it, too.I remember the day a few years after that first visit when I spotted a jar of Nutella in my American grocery store, on the top shelf next to the natural peanut butter and Goober jelly. Nutella! In America! The chocolate-hazelnut spread had finally crossed over into my country, and though it was still somewhat overpriced, I no longer had to reserve a spot in my suitcase to import it from Europe. From that point on, I’ve been able to pick up a jar numerous places. I can just swing by Target and grab one, no big deal.Gradually I have spotted more and more European treats appearing in regular grocery stores here in the States, like Biscoff, which claims to be “Europe’s favorite cookie with coffee.”I saw this on a Wal-Mart shelf the other day! These cookies are called “speculoos” in Francophone Belgium and taste like crispy gingerbread. They really are quite nice with coffee. Or tea.Our orthodontist is generous with treats, providing the waiting parents with a selection of Keurig drinks to pop into the machine that’s set up on a counter. Next to the machine, a few little snacks in a bowl.These are European, as well. This particular one is labeled “Galette Fine.” These very simple, crisp cookies are great with ice cream. Or coffee. Or tea.I crossed cultures when I visited Europe and encountered lovely little treats like these (we also love “Prince” and “Petit Écolier“). Now the treats themselves are crossing cultures so that I can encounter them right here in the United States.The world keeps getting smaller and smaller, and the dessert aisle keeps getting sweeter and sweeter.

Photos by Ann Kroeker
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  • Comments

    1. Ann, I would be embarrassed to post how many M&Ms I would eat if left alone. I, umm, just polished off a mini-bag of them while writing the post before this one :) You see, I have a real problem with chocolate.
      That Nutella business is really the rage. I hear all of you girls talking about it. I’ll have to try some–or will it be too addicting?
      I commented about the cross cultures existing in our own family on a recent post of yours about your honeymoon ? trip to Belgium.
      Next week, I will feature our traditional Italian Easter Bread. My aunt and my mother always made breads for Easter as a symbol of the risen Christ. My aunt’s bread had sausage in hers (it was actually my Grandmother’s recipe which I somehow missed out on). My mother also made a bread to be devoured with the main Easter meal but in addition, she made a sweet twisted bread. Of course, no one from that generation cooked from recipes. One year I found a recipe for Italian Easter Bread in the Los Angeles Times Food Section. It is a relic in my orange notebook of special recipes, and a tradition with our family. Even Mom approved of it!

      In later years, my Mom began making the Jewish Challah for our neighbors to enjoy after Passover. Wow! It was a fantastic egg bread. My Mom was a great cook!

      I think I just wrote next week’s blog post. I’ll just come back and copy, paste :)
      Have a blessed Palm Sunday.


      • annkroeker says:

        Sounds like we’re two peas in a pod…or two M&Ms in a bag! I can’t even bring M&Ms in the house, Janis, or they are gone. Crunch. Just like that.

        Some people don’t like Nutella, and it’s not healthy, so if you’ve never had it, maybe ignorance is best.

        I saw your honeymoon question mark. Yes, my honeymoon (20 years ago) was a little weird. We saw a lot of Europe on our own, but ended up with some quirky overnights that weren’t at all conducive to honeymoon conditions! There’s a blog story for someday! Anyway, we ended up at a second reception that his family hosted for us in Belgium, and while we were there someone introduced me to Nutella on delicious Belgian bread.

        And you certainly did just write your post! It sounds wonderful–just copy-paste and you’re done, which is good since Easter weekend might be a little busy with your big, wonderful family celebrating together! :)

    2. Thank you for hosting this foodie party! Love those cookies!

    3. Nutella! What a discovery, indeed. My daughters are crazy over Nutella (especially in crepes), and we must keep a full stock in the house all the time. We are heading over to Europe this summer, so looking forward to more food discoveries… :)

      The Biscofff sounds great – I am going to keep an eye out for that!

      • annkroeker says:

        Nutella in crepes. Yes, that’s heaven on a plate. :)

        Biscoff is nice for a simple flavor, but there are some really yummy boxed cookies we enjoy, like Petit Ecolier. That’s one of my favorites and they, too, are available here in the States (the company is “Lu”). My sister-in-law found them at a Super Wal-Mart in town. To what parts of Europe are you heading? Spain? Italy? France? Belgium?? :)

    4. I love this post – it is exactly like me but in reverse! Recently I am delighted by the number of American and Canadian products I can finally (after 22 years!) find in my grocery store. It has taken what seems like forever, and I can’t count the number of times I have tucked things in my suitcase to bring back from my travels. My poor parents used to bring tons of things for me when I first moved over here. I don’t know how they used to fit their clothes in the suitcase! Also, I read your post about cross cultural marriage over at High Calling Blogs and it is wonderful! I so enjoyed it, and could really empathize with it! Thank you for hosting Food on Fridays.

      • annkroeker says:

        Oh, April, thank once again for your delightful reply! It’s always a treat to interact with you here and there, in the comments and via e-mail!

        We still take peanut butter over to my sister-in-law who, like my husband, grew up in Belgium but studied in the States. They all developed and appreciation for peanut butter, and this particular sister-in-law is partial to a specific brand. For years it was Jif, then she got healthy and prefers Trader Joe’s Organic Unsalted Natural Peanut Butter. I always tuck in a few jars when I visit, which isn’t as often as I’d like.

        Next time I head over to Belgium, I’d like to pay you a visit in England and head to Ireland to see Claire Burge, the photo editor at! I can bring you a few Oreos (another favorite America treat that I bring to in-laws) or something! :)

    5. I have a (strange?) question… Do the Europeans not have the same rules as the US with regard to labelling? Here is why I’m asking…..

      I looked up the Nutella ingredients because I have never seen it here and I wanted to figure out if it was something that I would want to ask a travelling relative to take back for me… but the list I found looks strange… Sugar and palm oil come first, followed by hazelnut and cocoa… Is that correct or are the ingredients all mixed up? Is it really THAT sweet (dessert-type sweet) or is it more like a Planter’s peanut butter type of sweet? I’m curious. :-)

      • annkroeker says:

        You bring up an interesting question, Ruth. My sister-in-law in Belgium showed me the label over there, and the fat content was not good, but not horrible. Then I read the label of a jar over here, and the fat and sugar content is outlandish! To answer your question, yes it IS dessert-type sweet and really should be treated as such. We should only smear a very small amount onto something and call it “dessert.” :)

    6. I love your photograph of Nutella, all bathed in light and casting an immense shadow. That cracked me up.

    7. I’m so glad to have found you over here! Thanks for visiting my crab cakes.

      It’s a little more glamorous to travel all the way to Belgium for Nutella, but yes, I can bike to Walmart for it! I’ll bet it would be really good on those Biscoffs (which I first discovered on a Delta flight). Sadly, I can’t/won’t eat either, but it doesn’t mean I can’t dream. (And I think Brad up there would refer to his Nutella crepes as somewhat artisanal. Just sayin’).

    8. Thanks for introducing me to nutella. I use it lightly to top my plain bunt cake. Usually I don’t frost my yellow cake is an exception. Also thank you for introducing us to Mother Inferior and her site!

      • annkroeker says:

        Great use of Nutella! And I’m so glad you’re enjoying meeting some of my friends and colleagues, Hazel. Thanks for sharing your stories. :)

    9. Thanks for the mention here, Ann, and Hazel, too. :) It’s fun to “cross over” and visit other High Calling editors’ sites and meet their readers and friends. I love, love, love Nutella! I discovered it in Germany when I was a summer missionary during college, and had to go to a specialty store to get it after I got back. Now that it’s widely available, my whole family is in love with it. :) But we can’t keep it in the house all the time, Brad, because if we do, we’ll eat too much of it.

    10. Ann,
      This is the first Food on Friday I am participating in! So nice to be here! Thank you for hosting. I’ll know when the world has crossed cultures when I don’t have to go “across the pond” for Bangers (YUM) and Americans have a taste for Veggamite (nasty stuff).
      Great food for thought!


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