Home is a somewhat ambiguous concept for me; my birth country, passport country, "growing up" country and current country are all different. That, combined with years of international expatriate living, means that I have a lot of different foods and treats that I've come to love and miss when they're not available. So no matter where someone is traveling, I usually have a list of a treat or two I'd like them to bring back for me. For instance, if you live in (or are traveling to) England, I would ask for a package of Percy Pigs.
So when my mother-in-law planned a trip to the US and Canada, I had a long list for her. The bonus of traveling there is you can find more than just "Canadian" or "American" snacks.
My mom put together a small suitcase of goodies for my MIL to bring back for me, mostly some Asian goodies that I miss.
1. Dill Pickles - apart from being a stereotypical pregnancy craving, my whole family has loved dill pickles for. ever. In fact, one year when we were home in Canada for Christmas, each of us kids got our own huge jar of pickles as a Christmas present.
2. Chanachur - India and Bangladesh have the best snack foods. There are all different varieties of spices and ingredients, but they are all crunchy and spicy and great with a cup of chai (preferably bought on the street in Kolkata or at a train station).
3. Mango Pickle - The hot kind, pickled in tons of oil and super spicy. Goes great with any curry. Developing a taste for this at boarding school made the sometimes bland meals much more appealing.
4. Spices that are not readily available here in Brazil; Cardamom pods, ground Cardamom, and ground Coriander. Essential for making curries and a home-made spiced tea (chai).
The other half of my list, I left for my MIL to buy as she could. You can tell she traveled during the Thanksgiving season, we really miss a good turkey dinner here. (Although we do usually have a Turkey for Christmas with different side dishes)
5. Turkey Gravy - not much to say about this, what's a turkey dinner without gravy?
6. Dip packets - we find a lot of dressings here, but dips are rare, usually imported and expensive. We also don't have sour cream here (the usual ingredient to mix with the dip packets, but I've discovered that plain yogurt (strained for a while) is a great substitute.
7. Beef Jerky - this is one of hubby's favorites and occasionally we find some (in Canada) that has been exported from Brazil (we have good beef here) but it's not sold locally in this format.
8. Stuffing - nuff said. Can't have turkey without stuffing and cranberry sauce (see number 11).
9. Black Licorice - I love this stuff, and so far haven't found it here, unless by some rare occasion it is imported (and therefore super expensive).
10. Pumpkin Pie Mix - now this one is purely indulgent. I could make a pie from scratch, but given my recent energy levels (and a desire for a full-on turkey dinner) it's nice to have a pie in a can. Of course, I still do have to make the pie crust...
11. See number 8.
12. Apple Cider - this also falls into the "indulgent" category as I could make this stove-top style (and would have a lovely smelling house to boot) but especially given my caffeine limits it's nice to have an easy alternative.
Now it's not that I don't like Brazilian food - I do. I somehow got over my black bean dislike just before my first trip to Brazil. It's just nice to have a "taste of home" (homes) sometimes and I can blame pregnancy cravings on at least some of these items. So we enjoy them while we have them, and enjoy all our other Brazilian treats when we don't.
So if you ever want to send a random care package, these are some ideas. ;)