As a child, I can remember once or twice a year the mailman would stop his white and blue jeep at our front curb and carry a large and ridiculously taped box to our front porch. Oh, the excitement that boiled up inside me when I saw that package covered in my Grandma Silva’s careful hand-writing and her tropical address—Honolulu, HI!
I knew what exactly what awaited me inside: a large pail of fortune cookies and frosted ginger wafers that my brothers and I would snack on for the next 3 days, eventually fighting over who got the last fortune cookie or who had to settle for the less desirable sesame seed crackers. Looking back, I see things a little differently. I’m sure my dad enjoyed those boxes for far different reasons than us sugar-greedy little kids.
That box held a small sampling of his homeland, the foods that he had loved and longed for since his move to the mainland when he married my mom. Dried seaweed, li hing mui seeds, char sui and curry seasonings, sushi cones, macadamia nuts, each of these he would lift from the box and set on the kitchen counter, his tribute to the beauty of Hawaii in the mundane and flat surroundings of western Ohio.
Funny enough, I can identify with the feelings my dad probably had all those years ago. When Shawn and I lived in England for 4 years, I had the wonderful luxury of my mom visiting me about every 3 months or so. And every time she came, she would stuff her suitcase with all the edible comforts of the States: Fruity Pebbles cereal for me, Lucky Charms for Shawn, Oreos, pretzels and easy cheese, anything with peanut butter and chocolate (the English don’t really go for that combo)… Wow, I’m beginning to see that my list isn’t nearly as impressive as my dad’s was. It seems he was looking for culture and I was just looking for a quick sugar high. I think my list might be a little different if I lived away now, at least I’d like to think so.
What would that suitcase include for you? Are there foods that just transport you back home no matter how far away you travel?