I really haven’t been homesick.
The most willing I have been to hop a plane and fly home was when I heard that my favorite breakfast sandwich food truck was opening a physical location.
Apparently, the way to my heart is through my stomach.
There are many small moments where I need to taste home. Those are the times I buy a sleeve of Oreos, make a pot of Korean shin ramen, pay Western prices (bah!) for a package of processed cheese so I can make a grilled cheese, and (only twice!) grudgingly pop into a McDonald’s. (McDonald’s is just as big as at home, and while foreigners often flock there as a refuge, it is equally popular among locals. Also, they make chorizo fries.)
I miss salty popcorn in movie theaters, although buttery can be found in the imported aisle, China is all about sweet popcorn. (I have successfully converted my Chinese coworker to buttered popcorn)
I scroll through Instagram and drool over pictures of tacos. I read my favorite baking blogs and dream of owning an oven again.
For everything I miss, there’s something else for me to fall in love with.
I miss pizza, I miss burgers, but I am infatuated with Chinese barbecue, Shichuan peppercorns, garlic tofu skins on a stick, Chinese Muslim halal.
I miss baking cakes and pies, but Chinese bakeries are as plentiful and delicious as they are cheap.
I miss donuts, but I have to keep myself from buying fried dough sticks from the corner stand every day.
I miss REAL COFFEE (wo ai kafei) but I specifically have a budget set aside for cheese tea, the latest Chinese fad. (It sounds gross, but it’s not really cheese, just a layer of thick cream on top of any flavor of tea, from green to mango. It’s delicious and refreshing, I like it even better than bubble or milk tea. Also the place next to my apartment also makes a kickass cheese coffee. And yes, there is a Starbucks on every corner but I WILL NOT.)
As it stands, there are enough yummy things to fill my stomach so that I don’t have to pay inflated Western prices for sometimes unsatisfying Western food. At least, not often.
And whatever goodies I miss from America, they cannot possibly be better than the fact that I can absolutely stuff my face on steamed buns from the stand across the street for less than $1 USD.