What an American musician misses most

What an American musician misses most


norman lebrecht

August 11, 2017

Our Berlin-based diarist Anthea Kreston has spent the summer with her family back in the USA.

Our vacation in the States is coming to an end, and it has been lovely. I have a bit of a reverse culture shock – there are so many things I miss about Berlin, and am looking forward to returning next week – settling back in, and returning to our new lives. But here are some of the funny things I missed about America. 

46 things I missed about America:

1 Stores open, always

2 Ridiculous breakfasts

3 Peanut butter

4 Air conditioning

5 Jaywalking

6 Mexican food

7 Trader Joe’s

8 Panera

9 Huge grocery stores

10 (That are always open)

11 (And have everything you could ever dream of, always)

12 Luxuriously spacious parking spaces

13 Being nerdy

14 People bagging my groceries at the supermarket 

15 Laughing loudly in public

16 County fairs

17 Laser tag

18 Bagels

19 Bowling

20 Wearing a “fanny pack”

21 Thrift stores

22 Peanut butter crackers

23 Peanut butter pretzels

24 Wall of peanut butter at the grocery stores (which are always open)

25 Kick-boxing


27 Target

28 Fries with that

29 Smoothies

30 Drive-through everything

31 Over-the-counter medication

32 Maple syrup and brown sugar

33 Random people asking how I am doing

34 Very few rules

35 Out of season foods available always

36 Mohawks 

37 Epically large portions 

38 No cash

39 How big the country is 

40 Nature, lots of it

41 Relentless optimism 

42 Ice, in everything

43 Going to the grocery store in my pajamas and flip flops 

44 Bizarre appliances

45 To go coffee, to go everything

46 Public drinking fountains

47 Did I say peanut butter?



  • NN says:

    Peanug butter, bagels, bowling, smoothies, to go coffess, all availabe in Germany now as well. And you get “Trader Joe’s” products also at “ALDI”, who owns “Trader Joe’s”.

    • Scotty says:

      Those German bagels are barely bagels, at best. And a vast selection of two kinds of peanut butter? Please.

  • CJ says:

    Thank you, Anthea, for all your letters, I really love them.

    Concerning the 46 things you miss in the US, I notice that the vast majority of them are causes of obesity, like fat, sugar, big portions, driving everywhere, food shops open 24/7 and so on (I dare say it because I see from your photos that you and your family are not threatened by this problem! ;-)).

  • Steve P says:

    #34 is quickly changing, I’m afraid.

  • Sue says:

    Wonderful diary and loved the lists!! Yes, still an optimistic country full of (mostly) friendly people. That’s what my relatives tell me who’ve been there lots of times.

  • Brian says:

    Fun list. I might question #20 (Wearing a “fanny pack”). They had their moment in the early ’90s but…

  • Cyril Blair says:

    No, people. Please don’t go out in public in your pajamas and flip flops. Please.

  • Roberto says:

    I loved your list!

    To add: Despite of what Americans say, incredible lower bureaucracy compared to Europe.You can resolve almost all your problem over the phone.

  • Hugh Jorgan says:

    The USA economic “recovery” in 9 charts after 8 years of Barky Obola:


    Exploded upwards:
    –student loans, food stamps, federal debt, money printing, health care costs, black inequality

    –median family income, labour force participation, home ownership

    USA! USA! USA!

    • Terry says:

      Anthem was describing what she missed, not giving a political commentary.

      I have lived in five countries, two non-English speaking: there’s always a wish to have the best of all and none of the annoying stuff. But life is never that simple.

    • Scotty says:

      As an American who has lived in Germany for more than a decade, I can testify that it’s possible to miss an imperfect country.

      Similarly, my ex-wife missed me when I toured and she would testify that my imperfections are numerous.

  • Jeannette Kreston says:

    Now let’s hear what you miss about Berlin!

  • Marg says:

    Having lived in the US for 22 years I really miss the pharmacies that carry absolutely everything non-medical, such as wine, snacks, stationery, photography stuff, etc. Not in Australia. I do NOT miss loud blaring music in vehicles driven by young people, especially at night with the car windows down. Nor young men walking around with their underwear showing because their jeans are hanging halfway down their butts! But I do miss my good friends there! [Sorry for my late comment Anthea. Once again I seem to have fallen off Slipped Disc’s email listing and so I have had to go search for your post on line every week for the last month or so]