As I mentioned in my last post, I was recently at home in Canada for a few weeks' holiday. Just before I left, someone asked me what things I would be indulging in at home that I can't get here, but I couldn't really think of an answer! Most things I could think to want are available here in Hanoi, or I can create a reasonable facsimile, but as I was there I kept stumbling upon things that it turns out I did miss.
So, in no particular order, here are a few things I enjoyed eating while I was at home:
Ok, I know I said no particular order but first and foremost HAS to be Grandma's apple cake. Anything at all made by Grandma, really, would always be my first choice of things to eat. I mean how could you not want to eat something made by a 96 year old woman who still lives on her own, works in her garden, and only gave up driving this year? It's gotta be amazing, right? Simple, moist, and delicious, you can see here that I have two slices on my plate. My first one was very small, so when I made a fuss about it, I was given a second slice! Yum!
Some of you are probably saying "HUH?", but I love the A&W Teen Burger. I don't know how they do it, but somehow the combination of just the right amounts of condiments make it so, so yummy! I know it doesn't look like much, but just thinking about it now is making my mouth water! And of course, it HAS to be accompanied by sweet and creamy A&W Root Beer! And some fries, I guess.
One of the things I miss most about home is the delicious seasonal fruit in the summertime. One delicious berry comes after another, along with cherries and peaches. I was a bit too early this year, so these cherries came from California and weren't nearly as good as the ones just off the tree, but I just needed to have a little taste!
One day, I met up with friends and spent part of the day helping their little people Owen and Myla look for crabs under every single rock on the beach. Afterwards, we watched a big choo choo train go by, and then found a restaurant serving cheap, fresh fish and chips. I don't eat too much fish in Hanoi, mostly because I don't trust it, and delicious battered fish and chips are even more of a risk! (They NEVER live up to my hopes) These were delicious, but I have to admit that by the time I was done I felt pretty gross. I guess I'm not used to eating quite so much grease!
This is a no-brainer. First of all, fish and chips just taste better with beer. Secondly, you just can't get beer like this in Hanoi, which is why half of it was gone before I remembered to take a picture. This was some kind of Honey Brown Lager from I can't remember which brewery but I remember thinking it wasn't Okanagan Spring! (Although that would have been just as delicious)
At this point I'm going to make some honourable mentions of Twizzlers, cheesecake, and my brother's Beer Can Chicken, all of which I plain old forgot to take pictures of! Strawberry twizzlers are simply one of those candy items that once I stop eating them, I can't stop! Trish made a beautiful cheesecake one day, which I don't make here because cream cheese just costs too much. Yum. And Paul's Beer Can Chicken fell off the bone in the most succulent, delicious way that I'm unbelievably upset that I can't make it here (my oven isn't big enough to stand a chicken up in). I think I ate more chicken in one sitting that night than I ever have before. And that's saying a lot.
On one of my last nights there, Dad and Dorothy took me to a Greek restaurant. When Dad got his menu, he didn't even look at it because he already knew what he was having: roast lamb. If Dad likes it that much, then as a lamb lover who doesn't get it much here, I had to have it too! This thing was ENORMOUS, and required no cutting because it simply fell right off that bone with only the slightest pull of the fork. I have had lamb here in Hanoi, but it has NEVER tasted like this!
On a hot, sunny day in Vancouver, there is nothing quite like a Slurpee. Coke flavour for me, always. Sugary and icy, it satisfies like nothing else. I regularly drink sinh tố (smoothies) in Vietnam, which are probably healthier, and are also delicious, but I needed one of these.
One of my most favourite, least healthy snack foods is Hawkins' Cheezies. So crunchy. So cheesy. So good.
I took these on my trip to Mexico with me, and told the girls they were the best Cheezies ever. "Better than Cheetos?" they asked. Yes. Very yes. I don't think any of them even tried them. Their loss. More for me!
On a sad side note, James Marker, the inventor of this deliciousness, died just a couple of months ago at age 90. Let's hope the company survives for many more years!
Like cherries and berries, corn on the cob is one of my favourite things about summer at home. Also like the cherries, this corn comes from California, because at the time of year I was there the delicious B.C. corn was nothing but a twinkle in the farmer's eye. California corn was still pretty good, and I wanted it all the time. I begged Dad to go buy some for dinner, repeatedly. I want some now.
What is this, you ask? Do these ingredients give you a clue?
Ok, I'll tell you. It's dill pickle dip. I'd been looking for an excuse to buy some and eat it all, but it wasn't until I was staying at my brother's and we decided to invite my sister over for an evening that I finally had the chance. But then instead of going out to buy it, I decided to stay home and make it! And it was so, so good. Dangerously good, because although I can't buy it here, now I know how to make it anytime I want. I always eat it with plain, salted chips. Ripply ones so the wrinkles trap more dip. And that's what makes it so dangerous, because although I rarely eat chips here, with this dip I just won't stop.
The last item on my list is the one thing I always want when I go home - a Boston Cream Donut from Tim Horton's.
Most people dream about Timmy's coffee, but I'm not a coffee drinker so this is my Tim's fantasy. Soft, light donut, with sweet chocolatey glaze on top, and smooth vanilla custard inside. I remember back in 2003, when I arrived back home from 15 months travelling in New Zealand and Australia, on the way home my parents asked if I wanted to stop for anything. Yes. We stopped at Tim Horton's, and I had one of these. Because I don't make it to Tim's very often, this is the only kind of donut I've had there in years.
And now that I'm thinking about it, I might need to try making some kind of Boston Cream confectionery of my own!
Now that I've made myself ridiculously hungry, I hope you've enjoyed my list of all these things that I didn't know I missed!