When you move abroad, you relinquish many of the things that gave life a semblance of normalcy.
So when I came across a bag of Thomas bagels in the store the other day. I was ecstatic in a way that I never expected I would be over something so basic. I grabbed the biggest container of cream cheese. And immediately upon returning home, tucked into the dense delight. Slathered with an absurd amount of smear.
Like the day dill pickles hit the shelves.
After two years, we’ve mostly adjusted to the availability here. But it’s still exciting when you come across that something kind of familiar that you didn’t even realize was missing. Something that maybe you never even realized played such an integral role in your life. Like a super chewy carbohydrate that’s missing the middle.
It’s made me more patient. More appreciative. In a land of spongy cheesecakes, when you finally find that just right texture after a slew of misses. It feels like heaven on the tongue. Or a really good hot sauce that goes with everything. Haribo gummy bears. Kikkoman soy. Grey Poupon.
The little things.
My favorite things.
Every so often, a new offering finds it’s way onto the shelves. Giving me that taste that means so much more than flavor alone. A feeling that takes me back to sleepy mornings before school. My mom hounding me to get out the door. Or weekends with my husband in Los Angeles. Grabbing a quick toasted bite wrapped in wax paper on our way to the dog park.
Because breakfast to some. Isn’t to others.
In Ecuador, the first meal of the day is traditionally very hearty. It can be anything from a fish soup to a plate of pork served up with a potato cake and sweet slaw. A crispy fried empanada topped off with mayonnaise. Or a mixture of plantains with crispy bits of meat. Side of egg, bread, butter and jam. Juice and coffee. Instant usually. With a glass of piping hot milk.
And I think back to my childhood. Pop tarts wrapped in paper towel. Still warm as I walked out to the bus stop. Donut holes. A slice of toast with yellow cheese melted on top. Evolving over time to a large mug of coffee. Nothing else until lunch. And now, a pretty regular routine of quinoa, avocado and eggs. Simple so I don’t have to think. Healthy so I feel good. And tasty enough that I never get bored.
Why is there a hole? my son asks. At 3-years-old, this is new to him.
It’s a bagel, I say.
Do you want cream cheese?
Without knowing what that even is. But trusting his mama, who always delivers the yummy eats.
He says yes.
And the circle of life rolls on.