Expat food lusts
Today was a sad day. The last of the dark chocolate digestives ran out.
As much as I love Turkey and its food, the lack of dark chocolate digestive biscuits and other foods I lust for but cannot find, is a cross to bear. I try to stock up while I’m at home, or rely on outside suppliers. Like my aunts who, alongside their wedding hats, packed golden syrup, oat bran, stem ginger and jars and jars of peanut butter, alongside several packets of McVities dark chocolate digestive biscuits. But Turkish Airlines *only* gives you a 20kg luggage allowance, and consequently supplies are limited. I managed to make three packets of biscuits last for three weeks but now they are gone (and yes, for someone who can demolish a packet during one episode of GBBO, this is an achievement). With no prospect of a trip home or any guests until the New Year, I’m facing the prospect of a long, cold, chocolate digestive-free winter.
Relatively speaking, as an expat living in Turkey you’re pretty lucky on the food front. Turkish food is great, and there are enough well-stocked international supermarkets here that you really can buy most things. It’s not like living in Bangladesh, where cheese from a tin was something to celebrate, and a bar of Cadburys chocolate used to cost 1/10th of my monthly salary.
But I do still suffer food lusts, from time to time. Some are satiable with home-made approximations, like spicy tomato chutney or good quality choc-chip cookies. But others are not. Inspired by a piece featured by Yabangee recently, here are my top five insatiable expat food lusts. If anyone has any intel on where I might procure any of the above in Istanbul, I’ll buy you a drink:
- Peanut butter. Yes, you can buy it here, but I have yet to find peanut butter that is both sugar-free and chunky and I’m reserving the right to be unreasonable here. Me and Whole Earth peanut butter, we have serious issues. I currently have 9 jars of it in my kitchen. That should last for a while, but I’m taking no chances.
- Cheese. Particularly mature cheddar, because despite what most translations would tell you, kaşar does not count, and good parmesan, with good being the operative word here. Turkey boasts an impressive selection of cheeses, many of which I love. But unfortunately there’s an itch that only Cornish cruncher or a solid parmesan can scratch.
- Pig. I’m told that Aksaray is the place to go to satisfy your pork cravings, but I lack contacts and, frankly, I’m not sure I’m brave enough to go there alone. In Bangladesh, my Christian colleagues would occasionally and stealthily smuggle me pork in black plastic bags with a wink and a nod, but no such luck here. Perhaps I should think about importing a few whole salami next time I go home…
- Porridge oats and sugar-free muesli. Again, you can buy both of these items in Istanbul, but they tend to be either eye-wateringly expensive or just not very nice. Oats are often so jumbo that they take about a week of soaking before you can make porridge with them, and muesli is generally sweet enough to give you diabetes in one sitting.
- Salted butter. This might come across as an odd one to miss in this country of dairy lovers. But all butters here tend to be a bit strong on the cow flavour. I long for a rich yellow salted butter that is good enough to eat on toast, just as it is.
What foods do you miss when you’re away from home? What’s the best way you’ve found to sate your food lusts?