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Oct 11, 2007 10:38 AM

What should I send my sister living overseas?

My sister is living in Taiwan teaching English for a year. She missed good 'ol American food, but when I asked her what I could send her from home she couldn't really think of anything. Most packaged foods (candy, chips, etc.) is actually available there - it's the real food that she is longing for. I would be sending her a package via Priority mail, which would probably take a week or two to get to her. She does not cook very much but she does have a large toaster oven and some type of frying pot (she has tried explaining it to me but I don't understand what it it). Any fun ideas?

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  1. It's always the small things from home that you miss when you least expect it. Peanut butter, waffles, breakfast sausage, etc. I reckon there must be some brand names that she can't get in Taiwan to which she's partial. Maybe some Mint Milanos, Pringles or Hershey's chocolate syrup.

    8 Replies
    1. re: JungMann

      My British colleagues like Mexican stuff (spices, peppers, etc), and peanut M&M's for some reason.

      An American who works for my company but lives in Germany makes sure that when someone goes to Europe on business, they bring Nestle's toll house morsels, as she can't find an equivalent there.

      1. re: coney with everything

        You mean she takes CHOCOLATE to Germany? I've heard everything.

        Hint: to make chocolate chips - chip them - or simply chop them up.

        1. re: lagatta

          Toll House cookes are not Toll House cookies without Toll House morsels - much as I agree with your general premise about the chocolate. I believe that MakingSense actually posted elsewhere about also bringing US flour and sugar from Miami to Latin America in order to replicate the Toll House cookie! There is something about living abroad - however wonderful, exciting and eye opening it is - that sometimes makes you crave things that taste "just like home."

          1. re: MMRuth

            Yep, I really did cart flour and sugar to Latin America just for Toll House Cookie for my kids - and the Nestle's chips too. Chipping chocolate does NOT work for the "authentic" thing if you grew up with them in the States and my kids knew the difference.
            I also bring Nestle's Toll House Morsels to our former au pairs in Europe every time I visit. They fell in love with the "real" Toll House Cookies here and just won't accept substitutes.
            This is NOT about chocolate, it's about Toll House Cookies.

            1. re: MakingSense

              So, to help the OP - are you sure Priority Mail takes that long? I wonder how a box of frozen Toll House Cookies made by you might fare!

              1. re: MMRuth

                Priority mail will likely take less than 5 business days. I often mail photographs overseas in the 10x12 GP cardboard mailers. If I mail on Friday, they often arrive in the UK by Monday and Hong Kong well within a week. Assuming that a larger box won't take any more time, you could reasonable expect the package to get to the Orient in less than a week. GP is very reliable.

                1. re: chocolatetartguy

                  Uh, depends on where you're mailing from, too. It can take a few days to get to whichever coast they go through, then depending on whether the recipient is in rural Taiwan or Taipei could make a difference. I'm still bitter about the priority mail packages that took four and six weeks to get from Seattle to Bhutan, USPS' estimate of 6 to 10 business days was WAYYYY off, it took ten days for one box to get to the east coast. I feel like my mail is not their priority after all, even for $37 postage, grrr.

                  Things I'm missing in landlocked Asia are good cheese, the variety of American supermarket produce, wine in bars...the kinds of things that don't ship.

            2. re: MMRuth

              I have lived in several countries. I'm sure there are things I miss from Qu├ębec but I'd have to give it a think...

      2. Please don't laugh but I've lived overseas and the darnedest things aren't available and when you miss them most are the holidays when you have to have those traditional foods that you only make once a year from the recipe on the back of the can.
        I know this will sound terribly un-Chowhound but it's only once a year...

        Canned Pumpkin for pie. The recipe uses Libby's canned pumpkin and evaporated milk. In some countries, you can't even find an acceptable substitute for American pumpkins and if she doesn't cook much she's not going to go beyond the back-of-the-can recipe anyway.
        Green Bean Casserole has to have French's Fried Onions and Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup. Send along Libby's canned green beans anyway.
        Graham crackers for any other pie she might want to make. I have no idea why these are so hard to find outside of the USofA.
        Marshmallows for the sweet potatoes which she can probably find.
        Wild rice for a holiday meal. Even if you send the Uncle Ben's White and Wild mixed. It will be a nice change and if she has Asian friends for a holiday meal, it's a way to integrate their necessary rice into an American native grain product.
        Corn Bread Mix.
        Stuffing Mix.
        Canned Cranberry Sauce, whole and jellied.
        Canned whole corn and creamed corn with directions for a "corn pudding."
        Pecans or walnuts - whichever your family traditionally prefers.
        A packet of gravy mix. (OK, I know that stuff is pretty bad but she may not have any other way to make gravy and what's Thanksgiving without gravy?)
        Anything else your family always HAS to have.

        Your sister should be able to put together a pretty funny, half-way decent Thanksgiving meal for herself and a few American and Taiwanese friends with your CARE package and some chicken from the local market.
        I know some of this stuff sounds like dreadful convenience foods but sometimes for nostalgic holidays like T'giving, when you're far from home with friends who are also far from home, they make you feel a little less far away.

        4 Replies
        1. re: MakingSense

          Great ideas. When I lived overseas as a kid - and even though we hadn't yet lived in the States, only visited, we craved Wonderbread with Skippy peanut butter and oreos!

          1. re: MMRuth

            That sounds a lot like the list of items I missed as a kid overseas- Wonder Bread just had that spongy, light quality to it that did not exist in European sliced bread market- and Skippy peanut butter with GRAPE jelly. In Sweden, where I grew up, grape jelly did not exist, and we had to eat our PB sandwiches with strawberry jam. It's just not the same. We also had to bring back Duncan Hines cake mixes for all of our neighbors whenever we visited the States- they couldn't get enough of it!

            1. re: MakingSense

              All of the above can be found at Jason Supermarket located at the basement in Taipei 101. I don't underestand why people think peanut butter would be hard to find - it's on EVERY supermarket's shelves in Taiwan (Skippy brand). Everyone eats it.

              For more information on what can or cannot be found in Taiwan - visit

              I strongly encourage your sister to spend some time on that forum. Very useful!

            2. Agree with MakingSense. My list for an American living overseas long enough to long but not long enough to forget: peanut butter, saurkraut, canned pumpkin, canned cranberry sauce, dried cranberries, can of Campbell's cream of mushroom, can of Chef Boyardee raviolli, cornmeal...

              Similarly, send me saurkraut, masaharina/masaseca, corn husks, peanut butter, aburage, frozen mochi, canned and packed Japanese vegetable pickles, ume, mole, canned cranberry sauces, dried mushrooms from everywhere, cheeses from Italy, dried fish, smoked fish, smoked eel, caviar, ........aaakkk!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                When I lived in Rome, it was peanut butter, American jelly (alas no longer as good since they introduced corn syrup) and graham crackers. Popping corn, too.

              2. When I was in Europe my favorite things to get in care packages were peanut butter, maple syrup, marshmallows, Reeses' and Girl Scout cookies.

                1. Having lived overseas I can relate to the elation of getting care packages from home. Now my daughter lives overseas and the torch has passed to me to be the shipper. Some of the things she craves are bottles of various hot sauces, jars of nopales, bags of masa, Patak's curries, and cans of thai curry paste to name a few.

                  Each breakable item is wrapped in bubble wrap and all items go into individual foodsaver bags. That way, if anything breaks, there is no leakage.

                  A few weeks ago, I vacuum packed some sliced Jamon de Serrano (prohibited to send to their locations) and placed it in a false bottom I created in the shipping box. The vacuum packaging keeps the aroma from being detected and they didn't seem to notice the false bottom of the box.