I have worked at several offices where my colleagues have returned from overseas trips bearing edible gifts for the office. American candy, Canadian maple syrup cookies, French macaroons, Swiss chocolate and German gingerbread gave us a taste of their trip and eased the pain of being left behind to man the fort while our colleague hobnobbed at conferences on their overseas junket. Even if this is not the case in your office, you can’t go wrong returning from a trip to Oz with a few Aussie delicacies to introduce to your foreign colleagues. Your fellow Aussie expats will also appreciate the taste of home.
Light packaged food travels best. Twisties, Burger Rings and Cheezels are cheap and easy and often have the added entertainment of Aussie expats wearing the Burger Rings and Cheezels as rings on their fingers or attempting to whistle through the Cheezels. Your foreign colleagues may be familiar with European Twisties (Fonzies) but assure them that the Aussie version differs. Musk lifesavers are unlikely to be a hit with your foreign colleagues, ‘tastes like perfume’ was the unimpressed consensus in Nato’s office. ANZAC biscuits travel well, they were designed to be sent to the Australian and New Zealand armed forces serving overseas so a quick flight in a suitcase to an air-conditioned office is a breeze. Chocolate is always a winner; Caramello Koalas, Freddo Frogs and Tim Tams all go down well. A plate of Caramello Koalas recently lasted under an hour in my office. Tim Tams are available outside Australia (Indonesia apparently has cheese flavored Tim Tams), but again the Aussie version differs. Tim Tams were named after the winning horse in the 1958 Kentucky Derby. Should one of the other horses in the race come in first we would all be eating Benedictos, Ebony Pearls, Flamingos or Silky Sullivans!
Whilst overseas you will likely have to work on ANZAC Day and Australia Day. Try to forget that your friends back home are enjoying a day off. Don your green and gold and impress your work colleagues by baking for the occasion. Don’t worry if you are not a confident cook, even primary school kids can make fairy bread, and the sugar and nostalgia will send your Aussie colleagues silly. ANZAC day calls for ANZAC biscuits which are also easy to bake. Nato rather rashly promised to bring lamingtons to work one Australia Day. We and our tiny London kitchen wore a thicker layer of chocolate icing and desiccated coconut than the sponge cubes we were trying to coat, but the resulting lamingtons were worth it. An ambitious Aussie could attempt to bring a pavlova to work (is it Australian? Is it from New Zealand? Call it antipodean and have a slice – it’s delicious!). I’ve nervously transported pavlovas to events in the past and can report that the pavlova roll and individual mini-pavs made with meringue nests both travel better than the traditional large round pavlova.
I had always seen the expat experience as an opportunity to absorb another culture, not a way to expose others to mine. However foods, in particular sweets, are a fun and easy way to share your culture with your colleagues, and perhaps to find your way via their stomachs into their hearts.