I love Milano cookies.
Besides family the thing I miss most about the US are Milanos. There’s nothing like tearing open a new pack and experiencing that shower of crumbs when you take your first bite.
Milanos are the perfect comfort food.
They don’t have them in Norway and they didn’t sell them in England when I lived there so I am now in my fifth year of a Milano-less existence. My sister-in-law once brought me a dozen packs when she visited and although I enjoyed them, with each bite I feared the moment I was left with a pile of empty Milano bags and the cupcake shells they sit in.
It’s just not the same when your favorite comfort snack can’t be part of your weekly grocery shop. (This doesn’t mean I am above accepting cookies my American readers might send me. And no, I am not ashamed of myself).
Getting used to different flavors and the lack of easy access to your favorite food is one of the biggest adjustments when you move abroad. The whole psychology behind comfort food is that the experience of eating your particular favorite – pb&j sandwich, french fries, chicken noodle soup – is nostalgic. Eating Milanos takes me back to Friday afternoons in college when I’d come home and watch TV, eat cookies and fall asleep in front of the TV while my mom pottered about in the kitchen.
When I first landed in Oslo nearly a year ago, exhausted after two international flights with an active toddler, all I wanted was an Eggo waffle. They are another comfort food of mine that I eat my weight in when I’m in the US because you can’t get them in Norway.
In my jetlagged haze I ravenously searched three grocery stores, unable to explain what I was looking for in Norwegian, and came home with a pack of what looked like Eggo waffles but which neither sat in the freezer section nor was savory.
Moving to a strange, new place where you don’t know anyone and then finding out that you can’t get some of your favorite foods is like being turned down for a job you really wanted. And spending hours at various grocery stores trying to figure out what you can buy is an unappetizing experience. It made meal-time a challenge for me during my first few months here.
Being picky about what’s on my plate as it is, it didn’t help that if I wanted pancakes for breakfast (the mix is only available at Centra, a high-brow shop with imported items), I had to use Google Translate to understand the cooking directions.
Not that we’re starving or anything. There are plenty of delicious and unique things here, like smultringers. Denser than the American donut, these spiced, baked delights are everywhere.
Smultringers kept me alive last winter but it will take awhile before they qualify as something to turn to on a rough day. Comfort foods have been psychologically proven to help the body de-stress and reach a relaxed, restorative state of comfort. It’s the friend that never disappoints, never judges and is always on standby in your pantry.
For me that friend is named Milano.