Getting the goods

by Danielle Del Vicario

“What do you miss most about home?”

After “What made you come to England?” this is probably the question I get asked more than any other. And even though after three years I still struggle to explain why I catapulted myself across the Atlantic for university, I never hesitate when asked what I miss about British Columbia: the food.

Fresh berries from the farmers’ market, big bags of walnuts from Costco, mom’s homemade bread, Anita’s sprouted wheat flour…and the list goes on. Everyday I seem to discover yet another food product which can’t be purchased this side of the pond. (Try making a full turkey dinner when you can’t get a turkey, cranberries or canned pumpkin!)

Getting the goods (2)
You don’t know what you’ve got, til it’s gone

Sadly, shipping food from Canada to the UK is hardly worth the price. So while my housemates ooh and aah over the care packages sent up from their loving parents during exams, I sit and lament the fact that the Brits have yet to realize the importance of quinoa to the student diet.

That said a 24 kg suitcase can fit a lot of food and if there’s one thing I’ve learned during the course of my expensive university degree, it’s that you can do without books and clothes, but you can’t do without your staple snacks. At the beginning of each academic year, I pack my bag with nuts, chia seeds, pumpkin for Thanksgiving and a big bag of quinoa. I then wrap up the breakables (like mom’s marmalade) in the few items of clothing for which I still have space, take a deep breath and fight with my breaking zipper to close my suitcase. Over the next six months, I slowly work my way through bulk bags of goodies until its time to go home and restock—and if I run out early, there’s not much else to do but wait.

Even though food itself might be too expensive to Fedex around the world (and as a self-proclaimed locavore I can hardly endorse the extra food miles), there’s nothing to stop friends and family from bombarding me with new ideas and recipes. The majority of Snapchats that I get from my Canadian friends are of food and phone calls with mom regularly progress as follows: “Hi, how are you? How’s school? Good? Good. What did you have for dinner? Have you seen Smitten Kitchen’s latest recipe?”

And when I really need a comfort package, my parents log on to the Amazon UK and order me a cookbook or kitchen gadget, which gets delivered right to my door. After all who needs clothes when you have a shiny new hand blender? And, for that matter, who needs food sent from home when you can make it yourself?