When I walked into Safeway last month, I couldn't believe my eyes. Better than a week of sunny days, better (almost) than a free plane ticket to Australia, there they were: Tim Tams. Available 24/7 just minutes from my house. It was paradise.
I ought to back up a bit. I’m an Australian living in America. Like all expats, I miss home food. Not that Australia really has a national cuisine; it’s a weird mix of residual English boarding-school food, Italian pasta and Asian spice (thanks to our immigrant history) with a bit of native bush flavor and super-fresh ingredients.
As a vegetarian, I don’t miss meat pies, sausage rolls or kangaroo fillets all that much. But one thing we do really, really well is party food. Junk food. Sugar, salt and fat. And boy, after 10 years away, I’m missing it.
Just look at my shopping trips, which seem more like safaris as I brave the back aisles of import supermarkets looking for Milo or Twisties or cheap Vegemite. Look at my parents’ suitcases, full to the brim every visit with pavlova mix and packets of Tim Tams, those gorgeous melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cookies (we call them biscuits) that you can either gobble quickly or use to slam your latte (translation: bite off two diagonally opposite corners and sip your coffee through the cookie like a straw.) Look at my suffering family, who are warned on pain of death NOT TO TOUCH the freshly made lamingtons in the fridge.
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It all pales, however, compared with that glorious day when, after my years of suitcase imports and shopping safaris, Safeway decided to stock Tim Tams. At last – no more hoarding them till the next Aussie visitor. No more hiding them from my kids. No more Oreos. For this Aussie, at least, heaven is here at my local supermarket: Tim Tams in Tacoma.
Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568
Aussie Food Glossary
Tim Tams? Vege-what? Here’s a quick guide to some of the most common (and tasty) Australian foods.
Anzacs: Chewy cookie made with rolled oats and golden syrup
Ginger beer: Ginger-flavored soda
Lamingtons: Sponge cake cubes dipped in chocolate and coconut
Meat pie: Personal-size pie with puff/short pastry outside and meat and gravy inside
Milo: A malted drinking chocolate powder
Pavlova: Meringue-base pie topped with whipped cream and decorated with fruit
Sausage roll: Three-inch sausage wrapped in puff pastry and served, like meat pie, with ketchup
Tim Tams: Chocolate cookie with chocolate cream filling wrapped in more chocolate
Vegemite: A dark-brown spread of vegetable and yeast extract, extremely salty, used on sandwiches and crackers