When people move to what’s known in diplomat-land as a hardship post, many Western food products are impossible to find. We are as far from a hardship post as you can get. You can find anything in Hong Kong, for a price, as the ol’ expat saying goes. (See me feeling so expat-y and experienced?) When we are seriously missing our families and the rhythm of a life we knew well, we can go to Starbucks and taste the same burnt coffee we tasted in Seattle. Mmm.
Although I run across familiar stuff all the time, finding a favorite American item is like running into someone you know in public. And for the record, running into people I know in public is one of the top-ten happiest things in a day. I LOVE it when that happens.
On the other hand, we didn’t move to Hong Kong just to pay 30% more for pumpkin granola. We better sit up and look around and learn how this culture is a brilliant new-to-us reflection of humanity. One of our goals is to rise above we-just-moved-here hibernation and soak it up, man. Even if it causes the culture shock to flare up again. We are working on a list of places to visit, habits to cultivate, and customs to experience so we don’t just leave here as essentially whitebread as we came. (Is that ironic? White people making a list for their fridge about cultural exposure? I can’t win for trying. I’m going to think about this all night.)
But while I freak out about my cultural blind spots, I will continue to grocery shop. Here’s some of what I’ve found lately.
The problem with this label is…Wait. There are several problems with this label. First, if you have to clarify that the food is SAFE and HYGIENIC, you have already made me panic. And also, are your pigs sitting around talking about raw food and Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook? How can pigs be health conscious? The label also makes me feel inferior to these health conscious pigs, because tonight I ate some (more) British cookies and loved them. P.S. What the heck is SPF technology?
Lest you think that America is the only Western country capable of making disgusting food for children…HA! Tell Jamie Oliver to take the plank out of his own eye, on behalf of the entire United Kingdom. (Except I love you, Jamie, and I am obsessed with your new restaurant here and its beautiful branding, and please don’t be mad at me.)
One funny thing is that every time you go to the grocery store, the selection is different. Especially dairy products. The inconsistency makes my mind go to the dark place of “How long was this sitting on a hot shipping dock?” But this week I found some Tillamook, and I decided to live on the edge. WORTH IT.
I’m sorry, but I have nevernevernever heard of Hooland. Is this a joke? Also, fresh currants are kind of too much. They are the fruit version of the person* you just met at a Christmas party who will not stop talking. Tone it down. *I fully admit to being that person sometimes.
New life motto: If it’s in French, take it/eat it/don’t ask questions. I am drinking in chicness with this stuff.
To summarize…we are not starving. And I will never be sad to receive Trader Joe’s snacks in the mail.