Basterd Suiker and Imported Cranberry Sauce, the Struggles of Living Abroad During the Holiday Season

For the most part, I have easily adapted to the food here in Germany.  I love the easy access of fresh food, and I really do love many of the regular dishes that are prepared here.  It makes me so happy that there are fewer fast food chains around than Stateside.  Even though I do not eat red meat or pork, I really do find it easy to eat well here in Germany. (I know , I know, the stereotype of the German diet is all sausage and kraut.  But, you actually can find a lot of veggie options here too!)  Also, the prices of food here are fantastic compared to shopping in the States, it’s another great bonus of living here in Western Germany.

Except when it is time for the holidays.  Then it gets a bit costly.  You see, I am a bit of a purist when it comes to my American holidays like Thanksgiving.  I want a turkey, pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce that holds the shape of the can when I put it on the plate to serve.  There are other things I want too, like mashed potatoes, but those are of course easily found here in Germany.

We have been lucky when it comes to the turkey.  Our local grocery store, Rewe, carries frozen turkeys.  I was able to get a decent sized turkey(not too big or it wouldn’t fit in my Easy Bake Oven, I mean Ikea oven) there this year for 2.99 a kg.  In the States, I don’t think I ever paid more than .59 cents a pound for a turkey that was the size of a small dog.

Finding the pureed pumpkin in a can was a bit more of a struggle.  It is available on Amazon for around 6 Euros a can.  Yikes!  I got lucky and found it at the English Shop in Cologne.(It’s a store that imports items from the UK and the USA).  I know, I know, I could bake a pumpkin and make it from scratch.  But that ain’t happening friends!  It’s not that I am unable, it’s just too much damn work here in my micro-kitchen.  When I lived in the USA, I had an oven, I also had a roaster oven and I had a ton of counter space.  I do not have that luxury here.

We were lucky when it came to the cranberry sauce.  My friend Suzi, from North Carolina, came for a visit earlier in the year and she brought us two cans.  They went quickly and I was left struggling to find more for Christmas time.  It’s available online for close to 18 euro, No Way!  Again, the English shop came through for me and I was able to get some for under 6 euro a jar.  The expense of this stuff makes me feel like I am eating cranberry flavored gold!

My other struggle with living abroad during the holidays is trying to find brown sugar for baking. You can easily find raw sugar, which is brown, but not the real American brown sugar that is made with molasses. It’s just not used here in Germany.  I once paid around 10 euro for a bag online.  That makes for some very pricey cookies!  This time my friend Julie, who is currently living in Amsterdam, saved the day.  She came to visit recently and brought 4 bags of brown sugar gold for me.  What makes this sugar even better is the name.  In the Netherlands, brown sugar is called Lichte Basterd Suiker.


Clearly, my sense of humour runs on the low brow end of things.  But come on, Licked Bastard Sugar is really funny, right???

Do you live in a different area of the world than where you grew up?  To what lengths will you go to obtain your favourite items from home?


30 thoughts on “Basterd Suiker and Imported Cranberry Sauce, the Struggles of Living Abroad During the Holiday Season

    1. I agree. It’s really only twice a year that I buy these things, so in the grand scheme of life, it’s not that costly. It just seems so crazy to spend so much on items that are so inexpensive in the States. Of course, when we lived in the USA, I used to buy my husband’s favourite curry ketchup as an import item, and that was costly there. It all balances out I suppose.


  1. That’s the best name ever, I don’t know that I would have had the heart to open that, knowing me I would have put it on display somewhere!

    I meant to ask, how did you get on with the Tamales? Did they come good or were they not up to much?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Difficult here to get my Christmas goodies..We now grow our own turkeys which solves that problem…Potatoes are hit and misss this year was ok and the sprouts, and parsnips my son bought over from the UK. Brown sugar I can get although I like your named brown sugar much better…Cranberry I make my own …Sausages for pigs in blankets were the size of 3 small sausages much too big…Apart from that and having no Christmas atmospher whatsoever it was ok ish 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is funny! Especially at holidays you want your home comforts. When I lived away from home I wanted stotties which you can’t get outside of the north easy if England. They are a specific type of bread and I would always get some when I came home or if people visited me they’d bring me one or two.

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  4. I am ALL ABOUT bastard sugar! Speaking of turkeys, my father-in-law once paid top dollar for a fresh turkey — then he put in in the freezer. By the time his daughters and I realized this, it was too late to thaw it. We had hamburgers and cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving dinner.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Funny we never missed NZ traditions while in Europe. Our background is a mish-mash of the UK and Europe. Snowy Christmas cards until some enterprising person drew kiwis with a Santa hat and jandles 🙂 My brother always cooks a tasty Turkey for my parents which we got to eat this year.

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  6. About how much do you think it would cost me in October to ship you all of these (dry) staples so you would have them for the holidays? If I were living abroad, I would want this stuff too. If it wouldn’t be too much, I’d be happy to ship you some of these basic staples! I mean a can of pumpkin or cranberry, what would that cost per can? $1-$2 at Kroger? My mother in law always takes care of those so I really don’t know. Let me know and happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that is SO sweet. It would be super expensive due to the weight of the items. Thank you for thinking of me!
      My daughter is hopefully coming for a visit this Spring, and she has been instructed to bring the following: cranberry, pumpkin, brown sugar, Afrin nasal spray, a giant bottle of Benadryl and a small bag of Jalapeno Cheetos.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. After 13 (I think–who’s counting?) Thanksgivings in Cornwall, we’ve finally given up on the last of the traditions. The first to go was the turkey (it’s expensive here too, but we gave it up because it’s hard to find here unless it’s Christmas). When that goes, what’s the point of cranberry sauce? This year I made a pumpkin pie, but I was the only one who ate a slice so what’s the point of that? So we have a party. Everyone brings some food. We make food. Everyone’s happy. And only tree of us really know the difference.

    And because Thanksgiving’s not a holiday, the party’s on a Saturday anyway. We haven’t gotten the date right yet.

    Liked by 1 person

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