A favorite pastime on Mexico expat forums is to endlessly whine about the unavailability of certain products to which we were accustomed al otro lado. The gamut of longed for unavailable Gringo Stuff ranges from crunchy peanut butter, yellow lemons, and cornmeal; through high thread count cotton sheets, good kitchen knives and three-way light bulbs.
Not too surprisingly, some expats find what they're looking for after a little research. Others are destined to live out their retirement in frustrated longing.
Now all of us have our special wants, including me. Thanks to the generosity of friends, I have a good supply of cornmeal, stone ground grits and powdered buttermilk schlepped over the border to our home. We ourselves have brought back special Asian condiments, Licorice Twizzlers and proper Reeses' Peanut Butter Cups snuggled—not smuggled— into our luggage. There's no denying our origins and the desires that arise from them.
A recent frustration is that not long ago it was possible to buy Sharp Aged Cheddar Cheese at Costco. Several months ago, the relatively economical Kirkland brand disappeared, leaving only the Cheddar Suave (Mild). Then the super aged Cabot Cheddar appeared in the deli case. It cost about $145 MXN for about 12 or 14 ounces. That price was insupportable, until the craving for sharp cheddar overcame reluctance to spend so much.
The Cabot Cheddar was so intense and concentrated a flavor, that a small slice would satisfy.
Now it also has disappeared from the Costco inventory. So, I recently bought Kirkland Cheddar Suave. When I tasted it, I was pleasantly surprised how good it was. It had more sabor than I recalled from previous purchases.
What can you do? After living here more than four years, isn't it time we adapted better? Accept that we're not living in the United States, but in the provincial state of Michoacán, México?
Can you make an apple pie with lime instead of lemon zest? Sure.
Can you eat a peanut butter sandwich with smooth PB? It's o.k. (After all, you can always chop some cacahuates and blend them in.)
Mayonnaise, too, has long been a contentious subject. Some loathe the sweeter Mexican mayo. I think it's fine. Others may need to import their favorite U.S. mayo, but I'm content with Mayonesa McCormick Mexico.
Incidentally, Gamesa Saladitas are superior to most U.S. branded saltines.
Lightbulbs: we are phasing out the incandescents and using the new, energy saving fluorescents. The lighting is fine, and our electric bill is low, low, low.
Sheets: I have no idea of the thread count of our sheets. They are satisfactory. (Some are made in Mexico, others in the United States.)
Knives: I brought my professional cooks' knives with me when we moved here. They are not of the highest quality, but they serve reasonably well.
The discussion continues to tedium.
I'll end with a quote from my amigo, "Anónimo", who posted this reply.
Bring an open mind, a sense of adventure, and most of all, a willingness to adapt to your new country.