My foodie penpal this month was Heather Tucker, a fellow American expat living in the Netherlands. Before I got involved with the FP program, I had no idea just how many expats were living in Europe, or how many of them were American. Or maybe there aren't that many, but we all happen to participate in Foodie Penpals. Either way, it's nice knowing I'm not alone over here.
Although I rarely make specific requests when asked about parcel contents, I couldn't resist the opportunity to ask Heather to look for some more of the strawberry cream rooibos tea that a previous Dutch penpal had sent me back in November; it was delicious, but, sadly, seemingly not on sale anywhere in the UK.
It turns out that Heather couldn't find any in her neck of the woods, either, but she did the next best thing: She bought virtually every other flavor made by the same brand. She also threw in a couple of others just for good measure. I have already had some of the vanilla and cocoa black teas and can confirm that they are as tasty as you would hope from something that essentially blends into one container both a warm beverage and the cookies that you might eat alongside it. I'm intrigued by all the other flavors, as well, but am particularly looking forward to having some of the caramelized pear; I have purchased a couple of other pear-flavored teas over the years and have very much enjoyed them.
Not wanting to be too limited in her selection, Heather also threw in some snacks:
She didn't know it at the time, but Sasha is a particularly big fan of the rice crackers on the left, so I generously handed the bag over to him. I am always happy to munch on fruit-and-nut mixes, but I was a bit skeptical about the wasabi peas. I had some college friends who really loved those, but I could never quite see the appeal and so tended to avoid them. However, in the spirit of adventure, I gave these a try, and quickly understood why my friends would make the long drive to the health food store specifically to stock up on this particular snack. They are, as the Brits would say, extremely "moreish," and I find it hard to stop eating them once I've begun. Plus, they really help clear out the sinuses!
In the note that Heather included inside the package, she informed me that she'd done all of her shopping at Lidl and Aldi, two stores that are considered quite respectable in Holland, but are fairly low on the poshness ladder here in the UK. I find these sorts of regional differences quite interesting. We don't have an Aldi here in Falmouth, but we do have a Lidl, and I have shopped there from time to time because it is on my walk home from school. The majority of the products there are foreign--some with little or no English anywhere on the packaging. The prices tend to be pretty rock bottom, and while you do sometimes get what you pay for, you can also find some awesome bargains. I am particularly enamored of an Eastern European brand of chocolate-and-banana flavored granola bar (£1 per box!), and Lidl is one of the few places in town that sells standard pretzels. Some Brits complain about the influx of foreigners (Poles, in particular) into the country, but it is thanks to them that places like Lidl stock international foods, and continue to thrive despite intense competition from British shops. No complaints from me--though, of course, I am a foreigner myself, and so I am inclined to feel sympathetic to other outsiders.
In any case, thanks very much to Heather for all the goodies, and for giving me an excuse to consider purchasing an additional tea caddy to add to my collection.