Importing A Taste Of Home — Chiles, Chocolate, Cheerwine

Turkish Delight I took this photo myself.
Turkish delight. Yum!!!Image via Wikipedia

No matter where I live — and it’s five countries so far — I miss Canadian candy: Big Turk, Crunchie, Aero, Oh Henry, Crispy Crunch, MacIntosh toffee, wine gums and liquorice allsorts. Yesterday I finished (sob!) the last of my wine gums, brought back from my recent trip to Vancouver.

They have nothing to do with wine and they are not gum. Think of something chewy, translucent jewel colors, in subtle flavors and different shapes.

But Big Turk is it! (Dark chocolate covered Turkish delight, soft, pink, chewy.)

One American friend won a whole new level of respect for his sophisticated palate when he begged me to bring some Big Turks back to New York with me. Most Americans have never heard of it, nor of Turkish delight. I can’t even explain the delights of Crunchie because it’s sponge toffee….which is orange and crunches and melts in your mouth.

Just try one.

Once you’ve developed a taste for something that reminds you of home, and something that just tastes amazing, you need a pipeline. From today’s New York Times:

Although Internet buying makes sense — why haul a treat through Customs if a computer click brings the same result? — plenty of purists favor lugging over logic. For them, a treat bought at its source and carried home by their own (or a loved one’s) hands is somehow more genuine, more delicious, more earned, than one secured in an easy, remote transaction on the Web. This is particularly true now, with the height of summer travel upon us. Food souvenirs are food, but they’re also souvenirs, and as such are evocative of people and places.

“The whole experience of getting it in its context is something you cannot duplicate if you’re not there,” said Michael Stern, a founder of, a Web site about local restaurants and foods across America, and the co-author of many books on those subjects. Such food mementos are “appealing for the same reasons that anyone travels anywhere,” he continued. “We could all sit in our den with the windows closed and watch TV and see every corner of the world, but having the experience of breathing the air somewhere other than our living room — the whole, complete sensual experience — isn’t something you can replicate.”

Anna Sturgeon, 27, a movie content reviewer from Cincinnati, agrees. She is a big fan of Cheerwine soda, a drink that sounds sweet enough to make your teeth ache.

For my sweetie, it’s pozole, used to make soup. We keep a big bag of it in the freezer since it’s what he ate growing up in Santa Fe.

What’s the food that makes you homesick? Do you cart it back from trips? Ask others to bring it for you?

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Emotional Eating — When You've Gotta Have Some Salt/Fat/Sugar

Brussels Waffle (known in the USA as Belgian W...
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been so good — eating much less and much healthier than ever before.

But yesterday I fell so far off the wagon it was lost in the the distance.

Because I had to say goodbye to my Mom, who I see, at most, once a year and sometimes only every two years; we live very far apart and the costs of hotel (small apartments for us both with too-big personalities) make it a challenge to do it frequently. She lives in Canada, and I in the U.S., having traded our native countries.

I hate that goodbye, not knowing when, or if, I’ll see her again. She’s 76, in OK health, living alone. I’m her only child.

She beat me bloody at gin rummy and I trounced her at Scrabble. That’s a good visit for us.

So it was a plate of Belgian waffles, (whipped cream and strawberries), that morning on the ferry ride back to Vancouver. It was a beer at lunch, and some of the fries that came with my fish and chips. It was a package of wine gums (a chewy candy I can’t find in New York.)

Yes, dammit, all in one day.

Comfort food. It didn’t heal my sadness, but at least I’m now quite conscious when I make lousy choices and why.

Today I took a long bike ride around Stanley Park, admiring herons and seaplanes. Healthier, more fun, fewer calories.

The first wagon-abandonment — and the first time I was really aware of this comfort connection — was the day True/Slant was suddenly sold to Forbes, putting my future with them (still) in doubt. I had a small scoop of ice cream and it tasted very good. Wrong choice, yes, but the day a carrot really makes me feel better I’ve turned into a rabbit.

What’s your comfort food? What pushes you to (over) indulge in it?

Chocoholic Fun: Filmed Today By The BBC

Cadbury Dairy Milk packaging
Image by renaissancechambara via Flickr

The things a blog post can lead to! Cadbury, as some of you may know, is facing a potential bidding war between Hershey and Kraft soon to take over the venerable British confectionery firm. I blogged about this recently so today was filmed — shriek! — talking about the deal for BBC, to be shown in Bristol, where Cadbury is located. My voice, husky right now with a tenacious cold, is apparently going to be used in BBC radio reports.

It was odd fun. We filmed the piece at Tea & Sympathy, a great candy and tea shop on Greenwich Avenue in Manhattan, with the proprietor, Nikky Perry, a woman my age who’s a hoot. For someone who loves really good chocolate, being surrounded by boxes of Maltesers and Crunchies was heaven, even if I had to be lucid, for multiple takes, about business. Nikky made me a good strong cuppa’ (tea) which I sipped between takes and we shot several angles of me pretending to buy a Crunchie, a bar of infinite deliciousness.

Her British husband dropped by, wearing a wool sweater whose entire front panel, neck to waist, was a huge Union Jack. Loved it.

I lived in England ages 2-5, then moved to Toronto, where British traditions still reigned and some, today, still do. We drink a lot of tea, make it in a large china teapot and put on top of that pot a woolen or cotton object that looks like a hat — a tea cosy — to keep the pot warm. Nikky’s shop had Christmas crackers (the kind with toys inside) and handmade tea cosies and even a mosaic portrait of Queen Elizabeth — who I met in 1984 while covering her visit to Canada.

On a bitterly cold Manhattan morning, what fun!

Step Away From The Twizzlers! Candy-Crazed Kids Can Turn Into Criminals

Chocolate Buttons
Image via Wikipedia

A large British study , of 17,500 kids, suggests that eating too much candy  — i.e. every day — is strongly linked to criminal activity in later life. Creating in children the fixed idea, by caving to their shouts for sweets, that delayed gratification is so old school — wait?! — apparently sets the scene for some mighty anti-social behavior later in life.

Reports Time:

“Intrigued by this association, Moore turned to the British Cohort Study, a long-term survey of 17,000 people born during a one-week period in April 1970. That study included periodic evaluations of many different aspects of the growing children’s lives, such as what they ate, certain health measures and socioeconomic status. Moore plumbed the data for information on kids’ diet and their later behavior: at age 10, the children were asked how much candy they consumed, and at age 34, they were questioned about whether they had been convicted of a crime. Moore’s analysis suggests a correlation: 69% of people who had been convicted of a violent act by age 34 reported eating candy almost every day as youngsters; 42% of people who had not been arrested for violent behavior reported the same.”