Monday, July 7, 2008

Out of sight, out of mind...well, until someone points it out to you.

Having lived in Australia for the past 8 years, there are plenty of things from home (in this case, Texas) that I've forgone or forgotten. I think my initial years here were more difficult in this sense.

I remember being surprised when I first visited the local grocery store, Safeway. The name was familiar. There was a stage in my youth when we had a Safeway in my Texas town. I thought, This is a good sign. Maybe this Safeway will be very much like an American grocery store and all my faves will be there. Two steps inside the entrance and I knew I was naive to even entertain such thoughts. This place was small. I found the aisles quite narrow and there simply weren't that many of them. I think from one side of the store to the other there may have been 8 aisles and they weren't long. This was the kind of grocery store you'd expect to find in a very small town in the USA, not in a large city like Melbourne.

The next thing I noticed was the selection was extremely limited. It didn't seem to matter what item you were searching for, you'd only find two to three brands of it. I was used to having a plethora of choices in the grocery store I shopped at in the USA.
Upon further inspection, I realised a lot of my favourite items from the USA simply weren't on the shelves here. This meant many of my favourite recipes were next to impossible to cook as their ingredients simply weren't available.

Initially I was a bit distraught that I couldn't get my favourite food items and that I could only choose between Brand A and Brand B for all the other items I was buying, but I guess the longer you live somewhere the more you get used to what is on offer. Over time, I began to acquire Australian cookbooks that called for ingredients that were locally available and I learned some simple substitutes for a few of my American recipes. The recipes I could no longer make or items I couldn't find simply got shuffled slowly out of my mind and replaced with all the new local food I was experiencing. So much so that, after awhile, when people would ask what food I missed from home, I'd be hard pressed to remember exactly what it was I'd been missing.

As time passed and my tenure in Australia continued, I began to discover specialty stores that sold some coveted items from the USA. The only problem with these sorts of stores is that they charge exorbitant prices for items you pay very little for in the USA. For instance, a standard box of Cheerios (a breakfast cereal I'd loved dearly in the USA) at the specialty store would cost $15 AUD. Highway robbery if you ask me. Sometimes I'd be desperate enough for an item to pay the outrageous prices, but for the most part I tried to steer clear of the money pits that were these stores. That is until someone would remind me they were there...

We received a surprise visitor from the USA on Saturday. Since our guest's arrival, we've been discussing all the things we might have requested from the USA had we known she was coming. So much so that today she and I had to drive across town to the USA Foods speciality store and pay the outrageous prices for those items I decided I couldn't go a minute longer without having.
Here's a small sample of what we bought:

As soon as we got home, we ripped these babies open and here's what I did with them:

Put those Graham Crackers on a plate

Topped them with a few squares of the Hershey's Chocolate.

Then topped the chocolate with a warm toasty marshmallow. Can you see the chocolate melting?

Place another Graham Cracker on top and you've got yourself a S'more!! Melt in your mouth goodness. Yum, yum, yum!

Box of Graham Crackers $9.99

Hershey Bar $1.80

Marshmallows $3.00

The satisfying feeling of gooey chocolate and stringy marshmallow dripping from your chin? Priceless.


Annelise said...

Smores! So appropraite for 4th of July weekend too. SO who was the mystery visitor? I was hoping it was me...but alas I was in Mexico, not Oz. Can I click my red ruby slippers (or silver as the book would say) three times and hope for Oz instead of Kansas?

kristin said...

Sometimes I feel like I've gone to the USA Foods specialty store when I go to my local Safeway in Juneau... you'd think we lived in a foreign country with some of the prices they charge for things like limes, avacados, feta cheese. What saves the day here, though, is not a visitor from "home" bringing the wished-for staples, but the local warehouse store that sells you the same limes, avacados, and feta -- but you get like 10 times the amount you need and pay a third of the price. Consumerism! Gotta love it!

Dawn said...

I've started reading your blog and have been really laughing at some of your comments. I met a gal who lives in Perth and we've been writing back and forth through e-mails. One of our recent discussions were of some of the foods that they have over there. Some of these were the party pies, sausage rolls and yes, the "fairy bread". I had mentioned sauerkraut and she'd never heard of it. Even here in the US, it's not a favorite of eveyone.

Enjoy the Smores as they are a favorite here!

Thanks again for making my day a little more humorous!