Speculoos

One of the foods I’ve missed while we’ve been here is graham crackers. A stack of graham crackers with a glass of cold milk is one of my comfort foods! I haven’t found grahams in France, but I figured there was probably something close — a lightly sweet cookie that was almost a cracker.

So I started exploring and happily, early on in my explorations I tried a package of Speculoos. They’re not the same as grahams, but they’re a great substitute when I can’t get the real thing. A tall stack of Speculoos, accompanied by fresh milk from the neighbor, is… heavenly!

Speculoos are actually a product of Belgium, but they’re common in the stores here. Have you ever tried them?

We fly to the U.S. on Thursday and one of the things the kids keep talking about are foods they can’t wait to eat. Rootbeer! Smashburger! Mexican Food! Krispy Kremes! Bagels! I’d love to hear: What food would you miss if you moved from home?

88 thoughts on “Speculoos”

      1. As a Belgian I second this comment: try the speculoos spread. Foods I would miss from my country: carbonade (a beef stew) and vol-au-vent (a chicken stew).

  1. Definately Mexica food! We found cheddar cheese at one of the local supermarkets the other day here in Germany and it was like Christmas! I like speculoos too! Think they would make for a perfect bottom to a cheese cake. I like how they are just a little bit spicy, but not as spicy as a ginger snap.

  2. I got a jar of speculoos crunchy spread for my birthday from my belgian friends. It was the best! That said, being from Spain, what I miss the most when abroad is all pork by-products (jamón, chorizo, etc.) and in most countries I visit, the fruit and vegetables. I have an aunt living in Paris and she takes home fruit by the ton when she visits.

  3. I’m so with you on this post. I’ve been living in Scotland for 4 yrs and I’m with your kids on missing Rootbeer!!

    I also miss:
    Mexican food
    Butterfingers
    Butterscotch chips
    iHop
    Lucky Charms

    among so many {so so many} other foods!

  4. You know there are at least a thousand of us that would air mail you some honey grahams, right? Just so you know!!! :)

    I am not sure what I would miss…I spent three summers abroad when I was in my teens/twenties and I can’t ReCALL missing anything…except boys (ha! young hormones!) …I think the milk sort of freaked me out, I guess I missed North American milk + cereal.

  5. 9 years ago today, I moved from the US to UK. I’m sure I missed more stuff when we first moved here, but pretty much the only thing I still miss is Mexican food. Oh, and In-n-out burger, but I missed that even when I lived on the East Coast. :)

  6. We are in Finland for seven months…return at the end of July. My kids can’t wait to eat Chinese dumplings, cheese sticks (oddly enough), oatmeal squares cereal and pizza with Italian sausage! We’ve have found peanut butter, but it is about $8 for a small jar so I only break it out ocassionally–I think they look forward to eating pb&j for lunch too!

  7. Here in the U.S. Speculoos are called Biscoff. Same Belgian company, same cookie, same great taste, says Lotus on it, just a different shape. We find them on the regular cookie aisle. (I’m in D.C. area of Maryland.) They are fabulous with coffee!

    1. I was going to say these look alot like Biscoff cookies…i LOVE them! And I feel so healthy when I eat them because i know exactly what everything is in their ingredients list :)

      1. And the official cookie of Delta airlines. Or at least it was for a while. I’d always arrive home from work trips with Biscoffs for my kids. And I hear biscoff spread exists as well? We just tried Cookie Butter from Trader Joes which I hear is similar/same. It’s yummy. Especially with Nutella. :)

        1. I first had Biscoff cookies on Delta flights and I hunted them down online where I mail ordered the creamy version of Biscoff spread until it showed up at my local Wal-Mart. I can’t wait to try the crunchy version! You can get Biscoff cookies at Walt-Mart, too!

    2. And they just put out a Biscoff spread!! It is AMAZING. I put a this smear on my toast every morning, and then add some almond butter.

      I also started adding it to my chocolate chip cookie recipe. It is just divine!

      I buy it at Walmart, and saw it at Kings last week. It is fabulous.

      1. german pancakes topped with biscoff spread and a chopped up granny smith apple is the best breakfast EVER! Also delicious in oatmeal.

  8. I used to mix mexican food, and cheerios.

    But the sad thing is once you live somewhere, even when you go home, you end up missing the food from there. You can’t win.

    1. I agree! We lived in London, and we would pay a fortune to go shop at the “American Food Store” on Kings Street (no idea what it was called) but now that we are back in the States, I miss Wagamama, Pret, all kinda of random restaurants.

      1. I’m an Aussie living in England by way of Sweden. From home I miss Tim Tams and licorice bullets (any visitor MUST bring these with them). We visit the Australia shop in Covent Garden when we’re in London but it isn’t the same (not as fresh?). Luckily we can get Vegemite in the regular super markets here.

        I miss quite a few Swedish things as well…. we found the most delicious cereal there and I keep trying different ones here that seem similar but just don’t hit the mark.

        When we leave England I’ll miss Pret, but also M&S pudding aisle and importantly gelatine free cream (haven’t found in Aus yet). Sure there will be loads of other stuff I’ll miss from here, but this is what springs to mind.

        Christine

  9. Funny – graham crackers are what I consider the poor, poor substitute to digestive biscuits. trader Joes sell speculoos spread now, and also speculoos cream chocolate bars. They also have the bistro biscuits which are similar but less spice.

  10. Peanut Butter M’n’Ms and Reese’s Pieces are always in the suitcase when either I or my husband fly back from the States, but honestly, I don’t miss much. However, I’m lucky because I can get Goose Island Rootbeer imported from Chicago at a local deli; I can make a huge batch of Mexican meat for tacos & chimis; I can break up a cheap bar of dark chocolate for chocolate chip cookies. But, my husband still craves Kraft Mac’n’Cheese & British friends beg for jars of grape jelly.

  11. Cheerios! I don’t understand why we don’t have them in Germany when I’ve been able to find them in other EU countries. Whenever we travel we bring a big box with us and munch on it all the way home.

    But the food that will really say “You’re home” to me when we step off the plane in August: a poppyseed hamantasch. My dad better remember to bring one to the airport with him. Actually, he better remember to bring two – last time he ate mine while sitting in traffic!

  12. Just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your blog. We are a bilingual, bi-cultural family (he’s French, I’m Scottish and our daughter is the best of both!), I blog about bilingual parenting. I lived in Lyon, France for 12 years and we uprooted back to Scotland at about the same time as you and your family moved to France! I’m just going through the process of re-finding my feet in my own country (weird!), so it always makes me smile to see pictures like this one of the Speculoos. It reminds me of how at first I found “substitutes”, just like you describe, then how these substitutes became “normal”….now when I look for them in our UK supermarkets, I miss them! Other foods I miss from my adopted home: miniscule pasta for minestrone (alphabet, stars, flowers) perfect for kids, Petit Suisse, lavender honey on fresh baguette…

  13. When I was living in China, all I wanted were ice cubes!! Since I could not drink the tap water, ice cubes were out of the question too. All I dreamed about were tall glasses of water with tons of ice!!!

  14. Do you bake? If yes, I have a fabulous (and SUPER easy) recipe for homemade graham crackers. And they are sooooooo goooooooood! The recipe also made homemade chocolate ganache. Pair that with Martha Stewart’s homemade marshmallows and the the s’more is OUT.OF.THIS.WORLD amazing. The only ‘weird’ ingredient is whole wheat flour and gelatin which I’m sure France has in abundance.

  15. We find lots of digestive biscuits here in Hong Kong and finally looked them up online to find out why they are called “digestive”. Turns out they are supposed to be similar to graham crackers. When we lived in Spain we could find them easily too so I’d bet they’d have them in France.

    I love how almost everyone mentions missing Mexican food! That is tops on my list of things I miss. And actually the longer I’m away from the U.S. the less foods I miss. But something I’ll miss when we return to the U.S. is Hong Kong-style milk tea. Yumm!

  16. We had the opportunity a few years back to live in the Netherlands for 6 months. We missed all things corn. Corn on the cob, cornbread, grits, and popcorn were at the top of our list. We also missed Lipton tea bags! I guess it’s pretty obvious we are from the South…

  17. We’ve been in France for 8 months now…loving the food and the wine. I have found many new favorites! But I do need to say I miss:

    Corn on the Cob (especially grilled!)
    Peanut Butter (love it on celery)
    Maple Syrup (luckily brought my own gallon when we moved!)

    Good Mexican food and popcorn!

    Thanks for sharing and by the way I love Speculoo’s too!

  18. Do you need someone to send some Trader Joe’s Grahams? Definitely try making some with the kids! Maybe the next Olive Us episode? They can even go get milk from the neighbor! Back on track, I bet homemade would be soooo good…

    I would really miss avocados – do you have them in France? They probably grow in Spain right?

  19. Biscoff are the cookies that Delta Airlines hands out, and I have loved them ever since my first flight as a child! We have a friend who works for Delta and brings boxes home to share on occasion…I never thought to look for them in the grocery store!

    Also, Trader Joe’s stocks “Cookie Butter”, which is the same as the Speculoos spread other’s commented about. It is divine. We’re totally hooked.

    Mmm. Now I’m hungry!

  20. You know Trader Joe’s has Speculoos spread now? It’s called cookie butter spread, but its the same thing!

    We missed a lot of foods while we lived in Britain. Probably the biggest for our family was real Mexican food. We’re Texan, so we are used to lots of great Mexican places.

  21. I have seen those Speculoos crackers/cookies and the names just cracks me up, it isn’t very appetizing in English. I know they taste good though! I would miss Mexican food (eating it at restaurants anyway) but I could make do at home “abroad” if I could locate cilantro. I say at home because we usually stay in apartments when we travel abroad.

  22. I would miss sourdough bread if we ever left the SF Bay Area. It’s the only bread my daughter will eat and when we visit family in Texas, she refuses to eat sandwiches since the sourdough isn’t the same. I have to admit, I agree! I just attended a sourdough starter class this weekend in hopes that I can make our own but I have a feeling she’s still going to want to stand in line at Acme Bakery to get her fix.

    1. Shawna, this stuck a cord! My family moved to the East coast from SF area before I was born, but still have family in SF area, so we traveled there often. My dad traveled monthly to SF for work for many years and he would bring back loaves of sourdough that we could keep in the freezer to pull out and eat! We didn’t care about trinkets, but we always hoped he’d come back with the sourdough. And I agree, I’ve never had one that tastes as good as SF sourdough. I’m gluten free now and have been dying to try a GF sourdough bread.

  23. I have a friend that is visiting the US at the moment and I’ve asked her to please bring back some Cinnamon Teddy Grahams…….I’m 44yrs old!! I’d also love some Fruit Loops :O)

    1. you know what, I love Cinnamon Teddy Grahams as well, but our local Target and grocery store don’t have them anymore! I’m hoping they still make them.

  24. How embarrassing that when I was in Australia I missed Kraft Dinner. They have it there, but it just doesn’t have the same taste as the canadian/american version (maybe more processing is involved…so healthy), and root beer was on my list too. You could find it but at the time and where I was it would cost me $5 for one can!

  25. Mexican food and chocolate…I know, I know, Europe has lots of great chocolate to choose from (believe me, I’ve tried most of them in our travels) but I would leave them all behind for a real Snickers bar (preferably chilled).

  26. We’re visiting my husband’s family in France (we live in Canada) for the month of September and he is planning to have a pastry a day (if not more). Eclairs, pain au chocolate, mille feuille….yum!! I might have a few too ;)

  27. I lived in Holland for a few years and I miss chocolate Vla (like thick pudding), Spekulaas, cheese, better bread, Indonesian food, ollie bollen (a doughnut without a hole).

  28. 10 days in Ireland and I missed American bacon. Missed it sooo much. Those Irish breakfasts are great, but their bacon is thicker, more like ham. American bacon is just so superior in its thin, crispy, goodness. On that 10th day, I was with an Irish guy and he was on a mission to find pancakes for me (despite the fact that I’m really not a pancake fan). We found something even better- French Toast! It was soooo yummy. He thought I was crazy. :)

    We’re going to the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany next year and I pretty much guarantee I will miss typical American breakfast food. I keep reading about hard-boiled eggs and yogurt for breakfast, and both make me want to yack.

  29. I live in São Paulo (Brazil) for almost 9 years and I’m from Argentina. What I miss more are “medialunas” which are like sweet croissants typical from Argentina and we eat them in breakfast or tea time with a big cup of coffee and milk. There are other typical argentinian things that you can easily find here in São Paulo, but I’ve never found a substitute to “medialunas”!!! I’ve been in Buenos Aires 10 days ago and eat almost every day!

  30. I miss the original plain Cheerios (the ones in the yellow box). And graham crackers too! (I even have a favourite recipe which calls for graham cracker crumbs. I have to have my mom ship them over to London for me!) She also sends me chocolate chips to make chocolate chip cookies.

    Enjoy your time in the US! (I bet you’ll miss the croissants, the butter, the yoghurt, the bread…)
    xxx

  31. I studied abroad in Paris and was so desperate for Kraft Mac and Cheese that I spent like 10 euros for one box at the American grocery store (I know, I am pathetic!)

  32. BRIOCHE !! I’ve lived in the U.S for almost 3 years now, and every time I fly back to Paris I just can’t wait to have my favorite breakfast _brioche, warm Kaiser baguette with some Echiré butter (I’ve actually found a pretty close substitute, the Organic Valley Cultured Butter and Wholefoods brioche, unfortunately we have to drive about an hour to get them !)

  33. I’ve been traveling overseas a lot this year for work – hither and yon, that sort of thing. In India, what I craved most was fresh green salad — since lettuce just cannot be sanitized for visiting westerners.

    Whenever I’m popping in to visit family in London, their standard request is for cans of green chiles and peanut butter cups. Last visit, I threw in a large canister of taco seasoning and one of a new BBQ rub too. Flavors of home! And what do I bring home from London? Twining’s Chamomile & Honey herbal tea and Chocolate Lime hard candies from the Greenwich candy shoppe (avoid Tesco brand – blech!).

    As someone said… wherever you go, there’s always a flavor you miss. ;)

  34. When my family was living in France I’d go through phases of what I missed – mostly junk food – but the thing that was really different for me were the milk and eggs. I wouldn’t eat them in France – they tasted totally different to me (probably cuz they were free-range or something, lol. something I’d love to get my hands on now that I’m older).

    I do remember craving plain old cake from a box one day. And one time a friend from school brought back some good ol’ Kraft Mac and Cheese from the base in Germany – I was so happy I hugged her.

    Have you tried the petit ecolier cookies yet? They were our favorite- the kind with the creme in the middle- I can’t remember if they called it au lait or avec creme, but whatever it was, it was good! I can find the kind without creme in the US but I’ve never seen it with creme. And the pepito cookies we loved too, have you tried those?

  35. I’ve just arrived in the US (We live in Sweden) and I love reading your lists— and readers. Hands down: I miss real Mexican food and classic Amercian breakfasts (omelettes, hash browns, etc). I’m a rather whole food person in general but, I shock my family with regular bids for these restaurants! I love Grahamn crackers, too! I will look for the cookies you are recommending when we return to Sweden in August. What a fun post.

  36. When I moved from northern New Mexico to the east coast, I really missed Mexican food. It’s very much a regional thing – even 100 miles away, it’s just different. But when I went back for a visit, a Chili Works burrito never tasted better!

  37. I’m from the southwest so Mexican food is the one thing I miss most when we travel – the kind you get out here, not east of say…Texas.
    Rootbeer – yep, me too, and ice in my drinks.
    My mother is English and having spent so many childhood summers there, there are foods from there I miss as well (mostly sweets) :)
    My husband always misses pizza, except in Italy, he did like it there :0

  38. Oh yes, Speculoos spread is amazing! Be sure to try the crunchy one…heaven! The thing I missed most was iced cold fountain pop. Sad, but true!

  39. Oreo’s, Twiller’s, & Peanut Butter!!!
    But now that I’m settled again in the US, I miss Speculoos Cookies so much. Some stores are starting to sell them so it’s a nice treat when I can find them.

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