Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Political interlude and émigré goodie bag

United Kingdom is currently the presiding country of the European Union. Apart from the UK attempting to solve lots of worthy worldly causes (agree on the next EU budget, eradicate world poverty and provide more trade opportunities for Africa), this has personal implications for me. You see, lots of EU meetings take place in the UK, and some of these take place in Edinburgh. And that means that some of my friends inevitably end up in Scotland sooner or later discussing important EU matters.

So it happened that a good university friend of mine was in Edinburgh on a business trip from late Wednesday night until Saturday morning. I only got a final confirmation about her arrival on Tuesday morning. This was followed by a prompt email to my Mum, who compiled a quick goodie bag for her émigré daughter. This was picked up by my friend on Tuesday night, and gratefully accepted by me at a hotel lobby in Edinburgh late on Wednesday.

Here’s a typical Estonian émigré goodie bag:


On the top right there’s a huge 300 gram bar of Kalevipoeg chocolate. This is a lovely darkish milk chocolate with large hazelnut chunks. Very suitable for émigré Estonians, as it depicts the hero of our national epic, Kalevipoeg (Son of Kalev), making it a prime example of a patriotic chocolate. Similarities to the Finnish national epic Kalevala are purely coincidental, of course...

Then there are two pink bars of Geisha chocolate from the Finnish Fazer company. These are utterly delicious, with a soft nougat filling. Not really Estonian, but Helsinki and Tallinn are just 80 kilometres apart, so that’s close enough and shows strong Finno-Ugric unity…

Then three packets of hõõgveinimaitseaine alias mulled wine seasoning. It is getting unusually chilly in Edinburgh – there’s been frost for few mornings in a row now. And mulled wine is absolutely essential for survival in colder climates and mulled wine seasoning mixture is therefore part of any survival kit...

In a proud centre position is a huge loaf of sour rye bread. As Estonians, we have a very special relationship with our bread. We honestly and truly believe that it’s the best bread in the world. I am no exception. This is a fine example of the light rye bread with caraway seeeds – Tallinn’s fine bread - named after the capital of Estonia.

Next to the bread, a small packet of sweets. Well, those of you who read my story about the ubiquous Estonian roasted and ground grain mixture, kama, know about the kama ’chocolate’ bar – indeed, at least 2 other European bloggers have by now had a chance to taste kama ’chocolate’ bar. You may also remember my recipes for kama truffles and kama mousse. But that’s not all. We can stretch kama even further. Here’s a packet of kamabatoonid, alias chalky textured kama flavoured sweets. Definitely a very acquired taste and texture :), but again, totally essential in a goodie bag sent to any young Estonian abroad...

A loaf of white bread with sunflower seeds, päevalilleseemnesai. Not essential, but a nice touch from my mum.

Two packets of sliced Estonian smoked sausages. Go very well with Estonian rye bread (see above).

October-November issue of Vikerkaar, the official monthly magazine of Estonian Writers’ Union (a bit like Granta in Britain). Included in the goodie bag as it has my name on the cover page (the dark bit on the third line, you see) and an Estonian de-academised version of the conference paper I gave in Estonia in August printed inside. Very pleased with that one, as it’s nice to have something published in my mother tongue for a change.

There you go. It would be fun to read what other dislocated and displaced foodbloggers would (want to) find in their goodie bags. Maybe I should start a meme...

4 comments:

joey said...

Love this post Pille, as you know I love to hear all your Estonian themed stories :) My cousin was just in Finland and she is bringing me back some much loved (by me at least) Moomin trinkets :)

Anne said...

Oh, cool! I can say from experience now that your mom is indeed great with the goodie packages. :)

I love Geisha too! Let me know if you run out, because that I can VERY easily get. :)

Tanja said...

Mmmmm Geisha is SOOOO good!!

Never heard of kama before, is it available in the UK?

Pille said...

Joey - Moomin trinkets!? Haven't had those yet, but Fazer chocolates are delicious!

Anne - thanks! My mum is very good indeed, I've got quite a few foodie goodie bags from her over the last 6,5 years. I'm going home for 3 weeks in mid-December, so will stock up on Geisha etc, but if I run out again in the new year, I'll email you:)

Tanja - another Geisha fan:) I don't think kama is available in the UK, although you get a rather similar texture and flavour sensation if you use oatmeal. But if you're keen to try, I can send you a small packet in the new year - just let me know!