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Living abroad, naturally, one of the great joys in life is getting a care package from ‘home’.

A box arrives unannounced from a friend, and it’s a wonderful surprise. You rip it open and find it’s packed with all sorts of things that you miss about your country.

For an American, especially one who bakes, contents might include, say…corn syrup, peanut butter, a mini-Sharpie keychain (yes!), and a homemade potholder.

I’ve also gotten local newspapers, chapstick, and dried apricots and sour cherries.



I hope the next one reunites him with Marie…


    • La Rêveuse

    Sharpie markers and chapstick–the two things I probably missed most! How the french survive without sharpies, I have no idea. With Sharpies and Duct Tape, you can do anything.

    • Pille

    Hey, I got lots of odd things in my care packets over the years in Edinburgh, too:) But they still always made my day (especially the compulsory bit of any respectful care packet, which in my case was dark rye bread, and during the last few years also a bar of white chocolate with dried blueberries)

    • Derrick Schneider

    Ha, we heard the other side of the corn syrup shipment.

    • sam

    Our English care packages most recently contained Dutch peanut cookies, walkers chicken crisps and Galaxy Minstrels.

    Our French ones contain Maille Veloute, Maille Dijon and Cote d’or chocolate.

    Now I want to know Derrick’s story.

    • Trig

    Surely you are too old for the Osmonds?

    • David

    Derrick: well, I hope Marie was on the other side. Donnie misses her.

    Trig: That’s not possible!

    Pille: Never seen dried blueberries, but come across dried sour cherries once in a blue moon. The last ones I saw were 52 euros per kilo (about $65 for 2.2 pounds.) Fortunately I have my stash for ’07.

    La Reveuse: I did have a rather painful experience with ductape, so I’ll pass. But one of my friend’s mother thought her new front teeth looked too perfect, and she wanted to see what they’d look like with a gap. So she took a Sharpie and drew a line there.

    Unfortunately, she didn’t read the word ‘permanent’ on the side of the Sharpie….

    • matt

    I’ve always thought of you as a little bit rock and roll, now that I think about it…

    • mimi

    Reminds me of the care package my chef father made for me once — all things I could not buy on campus.

    No Donnie Osmond stuff, though. Darn!

    • Kristen

    Seriously… you all don’t have Sharpies there? I am a Sharpie addict. I had no idea they weren’t everywhere!

    • David

    I know!
    My French friends go nuts when I give them one from my stash, which I collected on last year’s crime spree.

    I’m pretty well stocked (at least until 2009) but there’s a Monoprix in the 15th, one place in Paris I know, that has them. I almost flipped when I moved here and only brought one.
    Who’d a thunk it?

    (btw: That’s a mini-Sharpie car behind the Sharpie…do I have some great friends or what?)

    • Tea

    Ah, the ex-pat care package–it ranks just below the joy of the friend-coming-to-visit-from-home-what-can-I-beg-them-to-bring-me package. I once convinced my poor mother to lug four dozen corn tortillas and a gallon of salsa along on her visit to me in Vienna (even less decent Mexican food in Europe in the early ’90s than there is now). I don’t think I’ve ever adequately thanked for for making me and my American and British friends so very happy.

    Enjoy your Sharpies, David!

    • faun

    David, May I ask your professional advice please (before I may need medical advice). I made the recipe that you posted awhile back for preserved lemons, and I have kept them in the refrigerator since… but now I just noticed that there’s kind of this white haze at the bottom of the jar, with these white floaty type things at different levels. I’m a little nervous, is this normal?

    • David

    hi Faun: Hmm. If you use grey salt, there’s likely to be a silt-like substance in the jar (a bit of clay). However I can’t say for sure since I’m not there. I would probably toss them and start again, making sure to use pure white salt.

    Also make sure your jar is sparkling-clean before using it. Some people say to sterilize it first, which you can do usually by running it through the dishwasher. Elise has a good tutorial here.

    • faun

    Hi, thanks David, I’m feeling a little better about it. After looking at it again this morning, it looks like it might be the lemon pulp? I’m not sure what gray salt is though – I used Kosher salt? I’ll take a taste of it – it would taste bad, no, if there was something wrong with it? So if you don’t hear from me again….. hehehe…Hey that’s not funny :)

    • samin

    hi david,
    i think i ran into mary jo at monterey market when she was buying some of that stuff for you! i’ve always wanted to say hello in your comments, but never have. i work for c.lee, and used to work at cp. i’ve met you once or twice in the kitchen there, but it was years ago (i also lived and worked in tuscany for two years, and came to know your friend judy there), so our paths have crossed once or twice.

    i just wanted to tell you that i love this blog, and i am so excited for your ice cream book. we use “room for dessert” practically every day at eccolo.

    next time you are in berkeley, please come say hello to us. we’d love to meet and feed you, and i know that chris would love to see you.

    • Carolyn

    David, I discovered your blog while my husband and I were living in Paris this past fall. Even for those short months, we kind of wished for a care package too. Maybe one containing Listerine, sharpies, and peanut butter. But then I happened on peanut butter in the local Shopi grocery! (yes, we went there occasionally for a few things, even though we mostly supplied from Richard Lenoir and Bastille markets). I was amazed. Parisiens sneer at peanut butter. But here was the real thing. There’s a Shopi on Rue Amelot in the 11th, a block down from Oberkampf. (Of course now that I’m back in the States, I think maybe I liked that PB so much in Paris because I just needed a little care package.)


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