Five Things I Miss from Miami

The obvious is family and friends. It’s a given that I miss them so I’ll go with a few other things.

1. Cuban Food

You can find decent Mexican food in Melbourne, trendy and overpriced Spanish tapas restaurants, and even some Brazilian food, but you won’t easily find Cuban coffee, Cuban sandwiches, pastelitos, croquetas, bocaditos, arroz con pollo, carne con papas, platanos, dulce de leche, flan, and tres leches. These and other foods are on every corner in Miami. I can make some of these at home, but ingredients are hard to come by.

2. Coffee Variety

Melbournians are very proud of their coffee, which is puzzling to me because at home many of them drink instant, and in the cafes there are only about five drinks on the menu: cappuccino  latte, flat white (espresso with milk and little or no foam, much like a latte), short black, and long black. You may also see a mocha on the menu from time to time as well as hot chocolate and hot chai, which is actually tea. Melbourne coffee shops generally only have espresso-based drinks, no drip coffee, and I’ve never seen flavored drip or large bean counters. Flavored espresso drinks are uncommon as well as are drinks unique to a particular coffee shop. Frappéd coffees are unusual also and generally there’s only one type of iced coffee and it has ice cream in it, which is delicious, but I stress there’s only one type and it always has ice cream in it. And so I miss those iced caramel macchiatos, pumpkin spice lattes, and Santa’s White Christmas as well as iced chai.

3. Central Cooling and Heating

It gets very hot in Melbourne. It also gets very cold. And yet many homes, businesses, and even some trains, trams, and buses don’t have central cooling or heating.  It may be in part because energy is so expensive in Australia.

4. Great Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt

As I just mentioned above, it gets very hot in Melbourne and it’s not unusual to see adults and kids treating themselves to an ice cream on a scorching afternoon. But these ice creams tend to come from the supermarket, markets, milk bars, and mall stands. There aren’t a lot of places to go out for great ice cream and frozen yogurt. I miss Cold Stone Creamery, Ben & Jerry’s, Carvel, and even the Dairy Queen.

5. Paganism

There is a large and vibrant Pagan community in Miami as well as the presence of the Afro-Caribbean religions such as Santeria and Voudou. I miss all of it – the drumming and dancing around bonfires on the beach under the full moon, the rituals, the offerings under the ceiba trees, the sounds of the African drums, the sight of initiates dressed all in white except for their brightly colored bead necklaces.

About the featured image: The full moon drum circle in Miami Beach by ASK Media Productions.

9 responses

  • I think the reason Melbournians have taken so long to embrace central heating and cooling, is because we like to kid ourselves that we don’t need it. Having now lived in the almost constant hot of Florida, as well as the almost constant cold of Glasgow, we have determined that we want reverse cycle central heating and cooling in our next Melbourne home.

    I miss S Florida’s dramatic thunderstorms and the warmth.

    • It’s funny because Melbournians do complain (It’s so hot! It’s so cold!) so you’d think that they would embrace central cooling and heating. I’d love to have it in my home. Florida thunderstorms are pretty awesome. Thanks for your comment!

  • Cosette, if you have won the lottery, Ben and Jerry’s (not all flavors of course) can be had at many small grocery stores and delis now (at least up our way). It costs about $10 – $13Au a pint depending on where you buy. I’ve bought it a couple of times, but try not too as I tend to eat the whole pint! ;-) We also have several Cold Rock ice cream parlors – not as flash as Cold-Stone, but they do add the ‘mixins’, and also expensive compared to an ice cream at the Dairy, and that my friend is why you see whole families walking down the street eating their favorite treat on a hot day! You may have noted that unlike America, people are rarely seen walking and eating – no ‘messin and glomin’ as my dear mother would say! Eating is still a sit-down affair and with the lack of fast foods, tends to remain so – at least for the present. Personally, I do not miss those flavored coffees – the majority of which are flavored with chemicals, but that’s just me (too, flavored coffees are fairly new to even the American culture sort of within the last 25 years…new to me!!! Ah ha ha ha).

    Hedonistic – Pagan rituals: sorry mate, can’t help you there, but we do have a lot of Hare’ Krishnas hanging about and beating their drums in the park on Sunday evenings – does that count??? ;-)

    Finally the old heating/air-con question: ah yes, pull up your socks and get over it! ;-) That’s the attitude anyway, and I’m not trying to be disrespectful! Cosette, if I told you all my horror non-heating and non-air con stories, I would have to write the Blog! Hang tough and make sure if you ever get the opportunity to build your own home, do it right!

    • Sharon, your comments always make me laugh. I’ve seen little cups of Ben & Jerry’s at 7-Eleven, but yes, you’re right, pricey! I’m still not over price sticker shock here. I will have to check out Cold Rock.

      I’m not a big fan of the walking and eating thing. With a few exceptions, like strolling down Lincoln Road with an ice cream or lemonade, you rarely see this in Miami. I think that’s something Hispanics share with Europeans and Aussies.

      Ascetic life is not for me, lol, but in Miami, the Hare Krishna temple always has good food. I’m sure they do here too. There are Pagans in Melbourne, but it’s a smaller, less-connected community.

      As for the weather, being from Miami, I don’t mind the heat too much and it the hot days haven’t been many so far, but oh how I am dreading the winter. I’m tropical!

      • My husband lived in Melbourne for three years after enduring dental school at University of Otago in Dunedin back in the day – no heat of course because why would you need it in freezing cold and rainy weather? Duh. We lived in a Victorian house in Mt. Eden, Auckland which was colder on the inside than the outside, and I am not kidding. This is the truth: I used to put on sweat pants, socks, sweater, gloves, ski jacket with hood, woolen scarf, and get into my sleeping bag to watch Sunday night Mystery Theatre (and the room had a fireplace)!

  • There are a few Baskin Robbins around and there is also Dairy Bell if you want real ice cream. I’ve seen a place called Jock’s Ice Cream at Albert Park Lake. But you know what Melbourne does have a ton of? Gelato places! At first I was all like, “No, I want real ice cream!” But now I actually like gelato better and there are some GREAT gelato places all over the city. You should try them!

    As for the heating and cooling… our air conditioner was the best $4000 we ever spent and I don’t understand why anyone would think they don’t need one when it’s over 100 degrees every day in summer. If you want to sit there and sweat all day long, that’s fine, I guess, but don’t come crying to me that you’re too hot, I say. :-p

    • I like gelato too and there’s a good place nearby, thank goodness. I think what I’m bemoaning is the commonness of these things in Miami. I know there’s ice cream, frozen yogurt, flavored coffees, etc. here and there, but it take searching and traveling. In Miami, these things are everywhere. There’s a great juice bar in the CBD that I love, for instance, but I’m not traveling 30-45 minutes in a hot, crowded train and then walking half a mile in 100-degree heat just to get a good mango smoothie.

      And yeah, I don’t get the whole anti-cooling/heating considering how much everyone complains about the heat and cold. Puzzling.

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