No Man Is As Island. Except Me.

When I decided to move from San Francisco, the two places I narrowed it down to were Honolulu or Paris. The beauty of living in Hawaii is…well, the beauty of Hawaii. Lots of warm beaches and surfing, alarmingly-fresh sushi, tropical fruits galore in your backyard, and an accumulation of frequent-flyer miles from trips to the mainland.

Paris, on the one hand, was France.

So I moved to France.
Here I am, going about my everyday life: in line at the boulangerie waiting for my baguette, negotiating with the fromager for the most interesting cheese of the season, and sitting in cafés all afternoon reading Kant and Kafka.

So this year I won a blog award, and was thrilled that my prize was being donated by ‘Ono Kine Grindz from Honolulu. The prize turned out to be two oversized, heavy cookbooks on Hawaiian cuisine. So instead of the books (one of which I had), Reid offered to send me a selection of tasty Hawaiian products instead.
“Awesome”, I thought, “I can’t wait.”

But wait I did.
And wait some more, did I.

Then then I waited some more.

I know it’s kinda rude to ask, but I finally shot him an email asking him if he had indeed sent it, which he had way back when.
Now I don’t know if it’s La Poste or the US Post, but living in the US I always received packages, most arriving relatively quickly. But in just a few short years in Paris, the arrival rate for packages is hovering at about 26.4%. I mean, where are they going? Are they sitting in some warehouse? Are they being pilfered or stolen? Do packages just simply vanish?

(Note: If any French people have anti-US Postal service stories, post the link to your blog entry in the comments section. Similarly, if anyone works for La Poste and would like to anonymously give some clues as to the whereabouts of my other packages…no questions will be asked. And I promise never to write anymore about lost or stolen packages.)


So even though I didn’t move to the island of Honolulu, I realize that I’m living on an island right here. One that is impenetrable when it comes to deliveries.

Anyhow…so my second package from Reid managed to arrive this week, and I was so happy when I unwrapped all the fabulous things:


Loose-leaf Pacific Place Tea, which I am busy brewing. This dark, long-leaf tea is beautiful, scattered with colorful little petals of marigold and cornflowers, with tropical fruit aromas as well. I hope it’s not sacrilegious, but I’m brewing up some iced tea with it.

A sack of real Kona Coffee! Most of the time if you go to Hawaii you’ll get served something called ‘Kona’ coffee, but if you look at the percentage of real Kona coffee in it, you’ll find it’s blended and the actual amount of Kona beans in it is around 10% (my delivery rate is better than that!) I was at Peet’s coffee once and was served true, 100% Kona coffee. And it was amazing and well worth the lofty price tag.
And mine was a gift!

I screwed open the jar of Kiawe White Honey and stuck my finger in the blank-colored, crystallized honey. Boy, was that good! This very rich organic honey is made from the flowers of the kiawe tree which grows from the volcanic soil of Mauna Kea.


Poha Berry Jam. Poha berries are related to what are called physalis in France and Cape Gooseberries (or Ground Cherries) in America. Poha Berries resemble tomatillos with their papery leaves hiding the dull-orange fruit inside. At the market recently, a Frenchwoman told me they were called, “les feuilles d’amour”, the leaves of love, in French.


I remember reading about Lilikoi Curd from Planted by the river from Heidi. I adore anything with passion fruit in it, one of my favorite fruits ever. This jar of curd has li hing mui, dried salted plums added. I’m thinking of making Heidi’s Lilikoi Passion Fruit Curd Cake but I fear I’m going to eat it all for breakfast instead. (In fact, I’m certain I will.)


Being a baker, I am avidly interested in vanilla and always looking for unusual pods to sniff and bake with. Vanilla beans are the most labor-intensive crop in the world, hence their price and scarcity. In 1998, Hawaiian Vanilla began planting vanilla orchids in Hilo, and now they sell vanilla beans and extracts, all cultivated and made in Hawaii. When I pulled the pod out of the glass tube and gave it a sniff, it was sweet and fragrant, one of the best-smelling vanilla beans I’ve had. I’m going to use it to make some Vanilla Ice Cream, plain and simple.

Mahalo to Reid at ‘Ono Kine Grindz. Go visit his site.

Never miss a post!


  • May 7, 2006 10:39am

    David, your mention of La Poste reminded me vividly of a news story on France2 about a year ago (we get a 1/2 hr here everynite in NYC). A postal strike was going on and postmen(persons?) were shown tossing the mail into the village fountains?! I’m still shocked by that image. It isn’t all perfection. On the other hand that Poha Berry Jam picture takes my breath away…

  • May 7, 2006 10:59am

    I don’t know what happens to mail when it travels internationally, but I have similar troubles when sending/receiving packages over the Canada/US border. Sometimes it takes a week, at others, a month. You are not alone.

  • May 7, 2006 1:48pm

    Hawaii is the best, especially for a midwest flatlander. After 22 years I still enjoy the avocados, 4/$1 and papayas, 4/$1. Talk about terroir! And you can get fresh roasted Kona coffee from local growers for ONLY $16 a pound…a real bargain.

  • gladys
    May 7, 2006 3:36pm

    Maybe after you tire of France you can move to Hawaii, by the looks of this post your blog would be just as interesting based in Hawaii!

  • May 7, 2006 7:49pm

    You are a lucky man indeed, that lilikoi curd is stunning – one of my favorite products. Ever. And the honey…

  • May 7, 2006 8:43pm

    We send packages from Australia to Poland and for a while there nothing was getting through, we complained to Australia Post who politely told us it couldn’t possibly be their fault, but they wouldn’t tell their Polish counterparts about it unless they received enough complaints. Perhaps they shouldn’t have told me that for soon after there were enough complaints and eventually we found out that two polish postmen had got the sack for pilfering.

  • May 7, 2006 9:42pm

    Hi David, you might be pleased to hear you are no longer alone on your island. The last two packages I received from France (to the US) have been so delayed (I actually still do not have the second one) that we got worried they got lost as well. The first one got me worried since it contained tons of chocolate and pastry supplies. Definitely an issue with the PO lately here as well….

  • May 8, 2006 12:52am

    Could the problem be with US mail? I have no problems with US mail within the US, but sending packages home to South Africa from the US is like playing Russian Roulette. If it doesn’t disappear, it’s sent via Trinidad and Tobago, or Malawi.

    Glad you got your package, though, and that it included cape gooseberry jam!

  • May 8, 2006 1:18am

    For years, all packages coming into Europe went through the German Post, and they had lots of problems (and those Germans are supposed to be famous for their organizational skills. In protest, I would sell my Mercedes. That is, if I had a Mercedes…)

    In all my years living in the US, though, I’ve never had anything get lost in the mail. I’ve been here 4+ years, and have had at least 7 food and other packages mis- or non-delivered. I even have a guardienne in my building who’s here to accept packages and deliveries for residents.
    (Although she has been looking a bit plump lately…hmmm…)

  • May 8, 2006 4:55am

    That honey is the BEST! I always have a jar on hand.
    I had my first poha berry this summer in Newport, RI. Some friends had gotten them at a local organic market. They are really interesting.

    great package. lucky.

  • Alisa
    May 8, 2006 8:12am

    David, I have SO much to say :)……
    When we first moved to Paris, my mother sent a large package of food stuff and other dry goods items to me, from Los Angeles. She “foolishly” listed all the items on the customs thingy, and then, thinking she was being one step ahead of “them” completely exaggerated the worth of the package. Due to the mentioning of edible items and the inflated ($250) value of the package, French customs decided to hang on to my box for 6 weeks – THEN they sent me a letter that I owed duty fees, and after I paid said fees, they would deliver my package. Since then I have learned and instucted anyone who wants to send something to France, the following:
    List everything as GIFT
    Say it’s books, stationary, clothes, anything BUT an edible product.
    Never list the value over $50
    Since adhering to the above guidelines, I have received all of my packages within 12 to 18 days, unopened, without fail.

    Me too, I was drawn to Heidi’s Lilikoi Passion Fruit Curd Cake, if you make it, report back :)

    And congrats on finally getting a package, unharmed. Maybe it’s a new trend for you!

  • May 8, 2006 11:15am

    Hi David,

    although German Post may not be responsible for packages not coming to Europe anymore, their service certainly hasn’t improved over the last years… I stopped counting how many packages never made it to our home!

    And then there was this one special incident: our KitchenAid, which we had won at a cooking event. We had the chance to select the color and were told, that it would be sent within a week. We waited. One week. Two weeks. Then our neighbor paid us a visit, carrying the KitchenAid (as light as it is…) under his arm. What has happened? He was walking his dog, when he met another dog owner, who asked him, if Nicole and Oliver lived at his house. Yes, but why? Because the postman had left him a huge package – for us! This guy lives 3 streets away and we never even met him before! And no, the postman didn’t leave us a message about where to pick up the package he had for whatever reason delivered to somebody else… The package was even labeled correctly! Postmen gone crazy or what? Just for my personal sake, I wrote not one but two complaints, but go figure, they never answered it :)

  • May 8, 2006 11:55am

    man, look at all the comments you have here. everyone’s been in your shoes :) you know first world (i.e. USA)is still the best. Organizational efficiency, work ethic, customer service i can go on and on. When I lived in the States, most incoming international arrived intact. But I´ve lost many goodie packs the other way round. Most recent postal horror I heard was my friend´s package to Czech Republic. She declared the value of the books and CDs and other goodies and now her poor friend would have to fork out 60 bloody bucks for customs. And I hear the government is not letting him go. He has to pay and claim the package. No other way out. Poor Czech friend.

  • May 8, 2006 1:06pm

    What a great package. Huge fan of the white honey!


  • May 8, 2006 6:38pm

    That first photo of chocolate candy made me hungry! I have that problem at work, as we have created chocolate candies out of blown-glass, and they look too real – might be a hazard to find a dish of them at a party, although the ornament hangar should be a hint. They make a festive small “tree” on garden twigs in a vase for a centerpiece. They will be on our web site in late May. Or ask for a catalog (they are in there) – just hot off the press. 800-330-3382. We’re a small company, so can’t get everything ready at once. Oh, I must take a chocolate break! Thanks.

  • Taina
    May 9, 2006 5:43am

    If you’re ever on Kauai, you must visit Aunty Lilikoi, a small family-run shop in Waimea that specializes in, you guessed it, lilikoi products! My favorites are the lilikoi butter (amazing stirred into mashed sweet potatoes) and the lilikoi wasabi mustard.
    Thanks for the heads up about the Hawaiian vanilla; I’ll be on the Big Island next month & will definitely look for it (if you want me to pick up more for you, just let me know).

  • May 10, 2006 4:52am

    David, it works in both directions. The package I sent for European Blogging by Post took a month to make it out of France and I’m still waiting for the word from Delicious Days about the prize for Best new blog. So you are not the last to receive your prize from that little competition!!

    (That said, I’m sure I procrastinated much longer than ‘Ono Kine Grindz – oops…)

  • May 10, 2006 6:18am

    Hi David,

    Great write up. I’m glad you enjoyed everything. If there is anything you’re craving let me know!

  • May 10, 2006 8:47am

    Funny, I just wrote up my experience with receiving packages here in Argentina on my blog. So I’ll just point you off that way for my version.

  • May 14, 2006 6:29am

    We used to have a problem getting any Amazon or packages sent from abroad when we lived in the 6eme of Lyon, then we moved to the 1ere and the problem mysteriously dissapeared!

    Man that vanilla looks good. Enjoy!