A girlfriend asked me what she should ask her travelling husband to bring her back from Australia. Food. Lollies. Biscuits.
"Tim Tams," I spit out, before she's even finished her question. "You've GOT to try Tim Tams."
"Ok," she stammers.
I wonder if I've frightened her with my enthusiasm, so I add, "they're really good. Seriously. Ask the others. They've tried them." I pause, and mutter, "even if it only because my mother guilted me into sharing them."
It's been a while since I've been to Australia. A while since I've been exposed to more Australian goodies than those my family and friends send over in their care packages - Cadbury chocolate, Caramello Koalas, and, of course, Tim Tams.
I'm a little rusty, and am not sure what else to advise her, so I get online and ask Google to help jog my memory.
And oh, how my memory is jogged. The mere glimpse of a certain packaging is enough to make me smile or laugh out loud.
Tic Tocs remind me of a night spent in a tent on the Primary School oval, staying up late, gossiping with one of my oldest friends and biscuit crumbs having to be shaken out of our sleeping bags the next morning.
Barley Sugar reminds me of doing the 40 Hour Famine in High School, sitting around and waiting for the time to be up so that we can eat something substantial, forgetting all too easily why we were doing it in the first place.
Mint Slice, Caramel Crowns, Licorice Allsorts and Columbines make me think of my Gran, and long afternoons of playing Scrabble or endless games of 500 with her and my sister.
I'm reminded of how we would break Saladas into four pieces, spreading them with margarine and vegemite, then jamming them together hard so that the margarine and vegemite mix would be squeezed, worm-like, out of the little holes in the crackers.
Saxa salt makes me think of the corner cupboard in my Grans kitchen. It always smelled of interesting things, but for some reason, I was always loathe to touch the jar of mint jelly, and would prefer to push it out of the way with another jar in order to avoid coming into actualcontact with it.
Cottees jam snaps me back to the Primary School playground where we would sing the song from the Cottees cordial ad, "my dad picks the fruit, to make the cordial, that I like best..." and then transform it, as kids are wont to do, "my dad picks his nose..."
For some reason, the Bushells Coffee tin reminds me of the church kitchen. I'm glad I didn't drink coffee back then because it might have scarred me for life. Likewise, Mint Patties bring me back to stops at the Milk Bar on the way home from church, to pick up the newspaper and the occasional treat.
Barbecue Shapes remind me of lying on the lounge room floor watching Monkey Magic with my sister, and licking the little red and green spicy flakes off our fingers.
Wrigleys Juicey Fruit reminds me of the glovebox of my dads ute, crammed with different bits and pieces that he would use on the farm, his breath fruity and cheeks bristly whenever he hugged me and my sister.
I'm not sure why Choc Ripple makes me think of cheesecake and, curiously, the kitchen windows over the sink on the farm, or why Marie biscuits remind me of baking and my mums reliable old Kenwood, but Peppermint Crisp reminds me of Grandma and yet another version of pavlova.
I'm still not decided about what to recommend, but I think at least this has given me a vague direction. Not to mention a sweet moment of reflection.
And is it too early for me to start writing a list of things I want to eat in Australia at the end of the year? Is that weird? heh.