Even though we stepped away from a country which no longer resembled our philosophy on life, there are some humble things we miss, talk about occasionally – and put on the Christmas present list!
Of course – shocker! – decent tea is a challenge to find and has been in various European countries we’ve both lived in over the years. A challenge anywhere, it seems, other than in China or India. Lipton simply doesn’t cut it… so ‘The Mighty Zon’ was called upon to deliver a regular supply of PG Tips – I know… horribly ‘expat’ of us… and it’s not even as if we don’t do the amazing coffee here justice every day. It’s just at ‘that point’ of an afternoon when most Brits will ‘stick the kettle on’ – I say again: Lipton simply won’t do.
But that wasn’t the surprising thing. We knew we’d need tea. Weirdly, the first real craving we had hit us after 4 months of being here. We celebrated the incredible fruits and vegetables, the strong flavors and pungent smells of home-grown, local produce – that you get a 15% discount on at the checkout, by the way! But there was something niggling at the back of our minds.
Of all things… sushi.
We had become regular customers of our local Sainsbury’s sushi counter in the UK and now, in spite of all this wonderful food that, believe me, we did proud… we needed sushi.
Strangely, but wonderfully, the Italians love sushi, too – and it didn’t take long for us to sniff out a couple of local-ish sushi oases, before an excellent offering opened on our doorstep. In the meantime, we had accumulated a number of international friends from various corners of the world and we often congregate for some decent sushi (not so decent, apparently, according to The Californians…). A couple of the local supermarkets also do some excellent sushi selections – far superior to the paltry, dry versions in the UK… (But don’t mention this to The Californians)
Still in the Orient
The next dearth became obsessive after we’d all used up a friend’s very generous supplies of spices from the Middle East… having made up our own ras al hanout and garam massala – there has been no lack of curries! We then all looked at each other, wondering who had lemongrass… and fresh coriander…
Incoming visitors were taxed in coriander seeds and a couple of us managed to get our hands on lemongrass plants from the local garden centre – they had 5 and no one wanted them! Only problem was that it was December… and lemongrass is not known for its ‘frost friendly’ approach to life, so we cut them back and hoped for the best!
I’m delighted to say my lemongrass has survived – God knows how! But not knowing anything about lemongrass plants, I fear it has bolted as there are no thick, familiar stalks – suggestions for development/harvesting/planting out are hugely welcomed in the comments section below…
Our Coriander harvest has been more successful and we are now trading coriander seeds from our own plants. But if you’re heading over, more will be very gratefully received by our little international community over here!
Of course, no expat blog would be without mention of the family favourite, Marmite. Secret Santa obliged this year with a lovely jar of the brown stuff – and it remains on the Amazon wish list for birthdays and anniversaries!
So, what’s next? Strangely, now we’ve finished our home-made elderflower cordial, we’re starting to crave Ribena and Kit Kats! So bear us in mind, if you have hold baggage, won’t you…?!