I was looking over my blog posts of the past 8 weeks, and I was startled by how its colour scheme shifted abruptly from yellows & greens when I was in Manila, to blues and reds since I’ve been in the U.S. The difference between mangoes and berries, I guess!
Get ready for the shift back to yellow (I’ll get you started with this gorgeous Colorado wildflower,) because my summer vacation is nearly over and I’m heading home to Manila at the end of next week, taking with me a heart full of memories, and a suitcase full of healthy food. It’s been an amazing summer from start to finish, filled with family and friends, beautiful cities…
an afternoon at the rodeo…
creative time in the kitchen…
… and a duffle bag full of hard-to-get food items that help me stock my pantry for the coming year. All of us ex-pats bring back stuff, it’s just a question of what we bring. I was introduced to this concept in our first year overseas, at a party. It was 2004 and the grocery store shelf of imported foods was woefully short. Nevertheless, the proud hostess brought out a plate of sausage rolls, which flew off her serving plate and into nostalgic mouths long before ever making it to the appetiser table.
“Oh yes,” she said breezily, “I bring back Jimmy Dean sausage from the U.S. every summer, frozen in my suitcase.”
And so I was enlightened…
I have yet to get to the point of using dry ice in my luggage, but I truly appreciated the lesson on, “what you can’t get and really love, IMPORT IN YOUR SUITCASE.”
So, take a look at what is important enough to me to rate precious weight and volume in my luggage allowance:
This is actually not all of it, because before I had the brilliant idea to do this post, I bubbled-wrapped the following for packing:
6 jars of almond butter
2 jars of cashew butter
2 large jars of extra-virgin coconut oil
4 pounds of raw almonds
1 pound of pine nuts
and 3 more packs of Ghirardelli 60% chocolate chips
Why these choices and not others? Here are my criteria… it must:
1) Contribute to my family’s health in some way (ok, I can feel you looking at my Ghirardelli chips with a wry nod, but hey, chocolate contains loads of anti-oxidants, and besides, adding them to my banana oat cookies makes my kids eat more of them!)
2) Be either unavailable or outrageously expensive in Manila
3) Not make an unrecoverable mess in my bags if it breaks or spills (hence the primarily plastic containers, and lots and lots of bubble wrap.)
Some of these things will be gone within a week of our return… but some will last me the whole year (like the 5 cans of tahini… and the Ghirardelli chips, of course!!) Plus, in case of a major typhoon, we’ll be able to feed the neighbourhood for a month.
Bringing back familiar (and healthy!) food from my home country is not only a means of nourishing my family, but also another way of prolonging my summer memories, and of creating yet another bridge between me and my beautiful host country, Republic of Philippines. I’m always sad to leave the U.S., but I do have to admit I’m always happy to come back home.