Whenever friends or family from the US want to give Kay or me gifts, I often find myself asking for a care package instead of anything else. Shipping to Switzerland is so expensive, so I really appreciate how much it costs to send some of our favourite American staples by post.
Most of these items are either not available to buy here or are extremely overpriced, like $8.50 for 200g/0.44lb of brown sugar. No thanks! Other things like shredded coconut are almost impossible to find and local suggestions to buy the dry, powdered, ultra-fine shredded coconut are not appreciated.
- Brown sugar. The real kind, not the “Braun Zucker” kind here, which is not really brown sugar at all, but brown-colored cane sugar.
- Imitation and real vanilla oil, because often you only find real vanilla beans or an expensive vanilla paste here. I know I could make my own using the vodka method now, but coming by a lot of vanilla beans is still expensive.
- American baking powder. It’s just stronger and better in all ways.
- Baking soda. Like Swiss baking powder, Swiss baking soda only comes in these absurd little individual packets with about a teaspoon inside. This is helpful to… Swiss bakers baking Swiss baked goods. That’s about it. And so much waste with all the packaging for these little packets!
- Shredded coconut. Because for whatever reason, you can either find some very expensive fresh chunks of coconut here, chopped up into chunks that makes it impossible to shred, or you find a bag of dry, more-dry-than-you-think-is-possible coconut that has almost no flavor and a terrible sandpaper texture. Kay and I love stockpiling on sweetened coconut and then adding it to Brazilian tapioca.
- Real and imitation maple syrup. I prefer the fake stuff for pancakes because the thicker consistency sits on top of my pancakes instead of making them soggy. Kay prefers the real stuff and we use real maple syrup in cooking often. I even add it to smoothies in an attempt to sweeten things like buckwheat oats without using refined sugar.
- Canned black beans. Now, this one is a bit of a splurge. We can buy dried black beans here easily, but I’m really too lazy to make them sometimes. If you are making a salsa recipe in the summer, sometimes you just want to open a can of beans instead of spending 3 hours cooking dried ones. Kidney beans are available everywhere in abundance in Switzerland and make a poor substitute for black beans. You can buy canned black beans from the Mexican grocery shop, but they cost like 5CHF a can, so I just don’t do it.
There are a few other spices that we cannot find anywhere here, but we don’t use them that often, so I either sub them out in recipes or we pick them up on travels.
I feel a little ashamed that my list is mostly sugary items or items used in baking, but to be fair, we don’t use them that often, so if we stock up once a year it usually lasts us the whole year.
If you moved away from home, do you miss any food or bring back certain items with you?