Homesickness is a dish best served with salt and vinegar chips.

 

So, I may or may not have thrown minor temper tantrum at the grocery store the other day. 

You see, after week of tiny catastrophes, general inconveniences, and disappointments varied and sundry (oh, yeah! the sidewalks here are filled with gaping holes that lead directly into the sewers!! I had totally forgotten about that little gemstone!) I was on edge, and not feeling very charitable towards the minor bothers that life in Indonesia entails (i.e. huh, so, what you're telling me is the ATMs just DON'T WORK? Just because? And the bank is, like, totally fine with this situation? So, okay. {HULKSMASHALLTHETHINGS!!!})

The poor girl at the iPhone service center bore the brunt of my eyerolls and exasperated sighs (though, I will say, she kinda deserved some of it? Maybe?? Yes?) Facebook got the rest.

Apparently our return from Canada prompted a Indo-crash, wherein wave of culture shock engulfed me. (In my defence, jet lag, exhaustion, and pregnancy cary-cray did nothing to mitigate this situation.) 

 

So I did what I usually do in these circumstances: I took myself to the grocery store, and rage-shopped all over the place. Oh yeah, Indonesia, you're going to be like that? Well take this 20 dollar bag of quinoa! And Bam! Here's an overpriced block goats cheese while we're at it! And a five dollar box of Kraft Dinner! How do you like them apples!!! 

 

 

Back in China, in the early days of our expat sojourn, when import products were harder to come by (and also bank-breakingly ridiculous), I would go into a local Carrefour and feel a wave of depression as I surveyed the unfamiliar packages, strange flavour combinations, and odd smelling fruits (durian!!!)

And then, maybe 18 months into our China stay, to my great glee, (I mean Marks & Spencer birthday cake level excited) Marks & Spencer opened in Shanghai. It was not the Western-sized clothing that had me excited (though that was what most people were hyping), but the M&S food hall. Suddenly old favourites like salt and vinegar chips were again at my disposal. And good value wine! And smoked paprika! It was like a major deal, and kind of a sign of tide-shift during that posting. Familiar flavours became easier to find and then life kinda got a bit easier, too. 

 

Food is a total big deal when you're an expat. It's a quiet comfort, a familiar call back to the home culture. Staying in touch with foodways of my home is a priority for me. And thus, I'll spend 20 dollars on a bag of quinoa, or travel half-way across the city, visiting four different grocery stores to stock up on cured meats, decent cheeses, and hard to find spices. I spend hours trolling the internet to find companies that will deliver kamut flour to Indonesia, or places where I might order a komboucha SCOBY (found one!!!). It's why I gave over so much space (and weight!!!) in my suitcase for six massive packages of corn tortillas and seven jars of all natural peanut butter. I need that connection to home, the comfort of familiar tastes, and the simple ease of foods I know. 

It's been a rough two weeks settling back into life here. But things are looking up. 

This weekend I have plans for a visit with a fellow Canadian, a meal of good Turkish food, and a coffee date with my shopping list and a stack of cookbooks. Throw in a little pool time, and all will be well. Come Monday, I'll be ready to hit the Jakarta streets with patience and acceptance (mostly.)

 

Until then, can I ask for some help? I'd love to hear your suggestions for favourite comfort foods, expat-friendly recipes, and must-visit cooking blogs.

 

Disclosure: This post was wrtten on behalf of a clinet, however all content and ideas herein are mine alone.