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.
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.