Sometimes I feel like I am in the Import and Export business. I'm pretty sure this is a common feeling many Expats experience because there are always food things you miss from your old 'home' and things from your new 'home' that you are excited for friends in your old 'home' to try. Whenever we have house guests from overseas there is always a list of things we'd like them to bring too... I don't do all the work myself, I do delegate sometimes.
I started importing and exporting way before we even moved away from the UK. We would take potato chips and Indian food items from the U.K. to Switzerland and return with delicious Swiss Chocolate and Cheese for our U.K friends.
The quantities were never huge, often just enough for one meal... unless its chocolate - then the whole office wanted some, so I'm pretty sure no laws were being broken, and often one small packet of un baked Naan bread or a large pot of yeast could make you a welcome house guest.
The I&E business continued when we lived in Hong Kong.
Cheese was always high on the list of things to bring back. There was a miserable selection of cheese at the time and it was certainly one of the things my husband really missed. When we lived in Singapore it was wine. Wine was outrageously expensive. House guests would bring wine and leave with Laksa spice kits or Beef Rendang curry sauces.
In the USA it was trips to Canada that supplied us with proper back bacon... that streaky stuff is just not what Bacon Butties should be made with. Trips back to Switzerland ensured we had Gruyere Cheese and Chocolate as anyone European in the USA knows 'Swiss Cheese' and anything from Hersheys is completely unpalatable.
Trips to the UK would allow me to stock up on Coleman's Mustard and HP Sauce.
Requests for things from the USA often meant trips to Nike and Michael Kors before a flight to Europe.
My Last trip to the UK I managed to find the stash of goodies in the picture above. Thankfully I wasn't travelling alone as I would have gone straight over my luggage allowance...those tins of treacle are fairly heavy.
Luckily now in 2017 I can buy 'most' things in Switzerland but there are a few things that are so expensive that I always throw them into my luggage when returning such as Baking powder and yeast. In Switzerland they are only sold in sachets. These sachets are too much for one bake but never enough for two. In the UK I can buy tubs, for a fraction of the cost. Made by the same people but in much more user friendly sizes for a fraction of the cost.
But best of all is my current favourite import, Prawn (Shrimp) Crackers. I can buy these in Chinatown in London for a couple of pounds for a big bag but somehow these have never made their way to Switzerland even though there is a strong Thai community here.
They are by far superior to the puffy Chinese Prawn Crackers which I can buy in Switzerland but are not even a close substitute.
I buy as many of these as I can fit in my suitcase.....
Before a Thai curry and with some sweet chilli dip whilst enjoying a Tiger Beer there is nothing better.
I accept that we are completely spoiled and that this has lead to the movement of food around the globe in my suitcase. If we didn't travel so much I would have no idea that the tonkatsu sauce bought in the supermarket in Tokyo is by far superior to the ones I attempt to make myself, And once you have eaten proper Thai Prawn Crackers on a beach in Thailand, nothing else really hits the spot.
So, whilst I am thankful that we get the opportunities to travel as much as we do... it has made me an accidental international grocery trader.
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