I never realized how hard it was to describe a snack food by relation to other snack foods until I had to try it not once but twice. December brought with it winter break, Christmas, and the opportunity to head back to the United States to visit my family. Before heading home, I headed to three different stores on a mission to find Irish snacks for my family to try. Lifting my suitcase onto the scale in the Dublin airport, I realized I’d never had to wonder if the weight of the amount of digestives I decided my family would need would push my bag over the weight limit. Luckily for all of them, my bag and I got through just fine. “So…what’s in it? Like, what’s it like,” asked my dad with a skeptical look as he held a bag of Bacon Fries. “Try to imagine like…a Frito maybe, but bacon flavored and shaped and colored like a strip of bacon? Except it isn’t really like a Frito…I don’t know, just try it.” Needless to say, the bacon fries were deemed “powerful.” The one in my family who liked them the most though might just be my older dog, Henry. Digestives went over well all around, and my dad enjoyed “the simplicity” of the candy names which tell him “exactly what he’s in for.” The break was full of everything I needed from home: walks on the beach with my family, laughs over board games, and giant breakfasts from Waffle House.
I flew back to Ireland just before New Year’s Eve, but before I did I found myself wandering around a Walgreen’s snack aisle in hunt for stereotypical American snacks I could bring back for my friend Amy who, after hearing all I was bringing back to the States on the front end of my trip, said she’d like to know about American snacks. The weight of digestives in my bag was quickly replaced by some additional clothes, a Slim-Jim, Chex Mix, a Rice Krispies treat, Sour Patch Straws, and a roll of Hubba Bubba Bubble Tape. “Is it a pepperoni? What’s in it?” Amy looked skeptical of the Slim-Jim after approving of the Chex Mix as “nice.” “Um, I’m not sure that really many people know what’s in them…I guess it’s somewhat like a pepperoni? Or a jerky? But not hard? I don’t know, just try it.” The Slim-Jim wasn’t deemed a favorite – maybe if Amy had a dog, that could have been the biggest fan like Henry was of the Bacon Fry. The Rice Krispies treat was a success at least. After celebrating and ringing in the new year with Amy and friends, I woke up hearing Amy in the kitchen. She popped her head into the sitting room where I’d slept on her couch, “oh good, you’re up. I’m making breakfast now – do you want tea?” White pudding from her hometown and all, Amy made a full Irish breakfast for us to start the new year off right.
Yesterday, while on the Salthill Promenade, I realized that in both North Carolina and Galway I’ve been able to enjoy reflecting while on long walks next to the shore. Going into this new year and new semester, I am beyond grateful to have loved ones on both continents to laugh with, introduce new snacks to, and finish vastly over-portioned breakfasts next to. Turns out sometimes home, whether in the States or Ireland, feels like a full post-breakfast belly laughing and chatting with those who know exactly how you like your coffee and tea and are always open to trying more snacks.
Sunset over the Atlantic in North Carolina
Waffle House (note American bacon…and portions)
Breakfast by Amy (the best way to start 2018)
Sun reflecting off Galway Bay