09 Oct Penguins
I happened by a Scottish bakery yesterday and popped in to see what sort of goodies they offered. Currant-filled eccles cakes, buttery shortbreads and various meat pies lined the display case. The woman in front of me had placed a very large order and was about to leave when she spotted something on the shelf above the counter.
“Are those Penguins?” she asked in a thick Scottish accent. I mistook the note of excitement in her voice to be a charming Celtic lilt.
“Yes, they are,” said the clerk in an equally thick brogue.
“How much?” The woman sounded positively eager.
“A pound thirty-five.” The clerk held up a bar the size of a family-sized Kit Kat. She pointed to the price printed on a corner of the bright blue package. “But here, they’re three ninety-five.”
“Ooooh… I’ll take three.”
The clerk lifted three floppy packages off the shelf. “Careful,” she said, handing the stack to the customer like Prince Charming presenting Cinderella with the glass slipper. “They’re worth gold.”
The woman left with her treasure. When it was my turn to order, I asked what Penguins were, anticipating a long, rapturous explanation. The clerk shrugged and said, “Chocolate biscuits, dear. Now, what’ll you have?”
Clearly, if I had to ask I wouldn’t understand.
I’ve no idea whether a McVitie’s Penguin is superior to other chocolate biscuits or not, but it was obvious this was a taste of home for these women. Having lived abroad, I know that what I missed most wasn’t always top-of-the-line cuisine. Why else would friends have mailed me Tim Hortons’ rims when I was studying in Australia?
So, set your food-snob preferences aside and tell me ― When you’re abroad what says “home” to you?
Photo © Steve Deger, published under a Creative Commons License.