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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Chocolate Wars Heat Up As Cadbury Faces Takeover Bid From Hershey

Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars are pictured...
Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

If you’re a chocolate lover, read this as Kraft’s bid for Cadbury has got Britons’ knickers in a twist. It’s as though someone from their side of the pond had decided to re-make KFC or New York bagels or  whatever beloved, all-American food icon works best for you. Chocolate, for many Britons, is one of the major food groups.

Sure, you can take refuge here in pricey choices like Godiva, but Americans still eat only half the amount of chocolate — about 12 pounds a year — as Britons. If you’ve ever lived in Britain, or traveled there and eaten some of its candy bars, you understand. What Hershey calls chocolate is an abomination. So says the mayor of London, Boris Johnson (and I agree):

But for many Brits, the business impact is beside the point. The prospect of Americans taking over production of their beloved Dairy Milk and Flake bars has sent the country into an emotional tailspin.

“When it comes to protecting our chocolate — the taste of British childhood — then we turn and fight,” wrote Mayor Boris Johnson of London in The Telegraph this month.

“We face an appalling choice of succumbing either to Kraft, makers of the plastic flaps of orange cheese, or to Hershey, whose Hershey bars have been likened in flavor — by independent experts — to a mixture of soap powder and baby vomit.”

Whenever I go home to Canada, I stock up on the candy bars of my youth, made with a British version of chocolate, both tangier and smoother than anything I’ve ever eaten made by a mass-market American manufacturer. I just don’t eat American chocolate.

Instead, the treasures I stockpile there and keep safely hidden at the back of the fridge are Big Turk, Crunchie, Aero Bars, Crispy Crunch. I can barely explain the allure of the first two brands as their contents, sponge toffee and Turkish delight, are also little-known to most Americans as well. On my worst days, a bite of Big Turk, with its chewy, sweet, translucent reddish center, can soothe just about anything.

Try them once, and you’ll understand too.