Tuesday 13th March 2012
Foods from the homeland bring back similar nostalgic waves of emotion in the same way as certain foods from my youth do. Wagon Wheels, Fray Bentos’ Chicken & Mushroom pies & Golden nuggets all hold a special place in my heart.
When we first moved away from Britain, the bags on our return were always ladened with everything we missed from home. From baked beans & rice pudding to tea bags & washing powder! But during the course of our 18 year residency here in Barcelona we’ve become more accustomed to the way of life, customs & of course the Mediterranean diet. (Well…that & the fact that there being a significant ex-patriate community here, export of these goods has become somewhat more profitable for shops to stock. 😉 )
Nowadays, our tastes have changed. Gone is our penchant for back bacon, out with the dish water went the individual bags of Walkers worcester sauce crisps & after all, you can only eat so many custard cream biscuits & still get away with not spending an extra 20 minutes on the running machine!
However, there are certain aliments that for one reason or another I like to sneak into my, already over-full, suitcase.
Maldon Sea Salt, for one, is four times the price that it is in the UK so a few boxes are a must whenever we’re there. Vegimite is another. You can’t get it here at all. Not for love nor money. And a more recent addition to my ever diminishing wish list, is lamb mince.
It’s just so difficult to procure.
Our recent trips back to Blighty have allowed me to stock up on some of the above. But as we were trying to travel light, we only took hand luggage which in theory is supposed to speed up the whole process of travelling short distances for just a few days. But in practice just presents a different set of complications, in terms of what I can bring back, that is!
Dry goods are no problem to carry in walk on bags. Liquids are slightly more tricky. As it says on our carriers websit, ‘the word “liquids” has a wider meaning than you would perhaps think… For example: lip balm, lip sticks, hand creams, deodorant, and hair spray are all considered liquids…’ The rules clearly state that each container can only have a maximum volume of 100ml or ‘You’ll be asked to dispose of any liquids that don’t match these requirements…’ It continues. But then who consults the website before they travel? Not me clearly!
So armed with reading & viewing material for a long day’s travel, we hit the airport to join a succession of queues. First boarding passes, then ticket control, then passports, then customs control.
After taking off my boots, belt, watch, rings, coat, hooded sweatshirt & cap, I push the plastic tray towards the conveyer belt that took them into the scanning machine & walked though, virtually naked.
I was waiting on the other side for my bags to come through when I saw my case exiting down the wrong side of the belt. Guilt flushed through my face. Had I packed the case myself? Were there any sharpe or flammable objects inside? Did I remember to put my underwear in a temporary dirty washing back or did I just pop them on the top in my hast to pack?
“Whose is this?” The customs guy shouted holding the case at waist level.
I raised my arm sheepishly & he began the process of rummaging through. He knew exactly what he was looking for & emerged seconds later brandishing the culprit.
“Sorry mate, you can’t take that through.” He told me flatly hold up the incriminating jar of Vegimite.
I wasn’t in a position to argue my case that breakfast on a Sunday morning without a piece of warm chapatta bread generously smeared with Vegimite, just wouldn’t be the same, especially as he had been quite careful to squeeze my two packets of ground lamb mince into my case as he zipped it back up.
“Ok, don’t worry about it.” I replied willing him to send me on my way.
Which he did. Underwear & all.
‘You win some, you lose some.’ They say. Well I guess in my case, this seems to be true.