I'm guessing Black Pudding won't make it past the border...
October 5, 2007 4:10 AM   Subscribe

AussieExpatFilter: What items (probably foodstuffs) are: - essentially English - unavailable in Australia and could be given to a UK expat in Aus?

I'm off to Western Australia from the UK and will be visiting friends who have emigrated. What can I surprise them with from the UK that they won't be able to get in Perth?

These items will have to be relatively lightweight, easy to pack, stay fresh for the two weeks between purchase and presentation and must be able to pass through the Australian quarantine regulations.

Obviously, I have my own ideas but I would hate to stock up on Marmite and PG Tips and find them readily available down under.
posted by SpacemanRed to Travel & Transportation around Australia (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
marmite is here.
posted by taff at 4:23 AM on October 5, 2007

Best answer: Sites like http://www.expatboxes.com/ specialize in giving UK expats what they miss. It could give you ideas of what they might miss (assuming your friends don't use such a service themselves). The Big British Bumper Box includes:
Bird's Custard Powder
Bisto Gravy Granules
Branston Pickle
Cadbury's Dairy Milk Chocolate Bar
Cadbury's Drinking Chocolate
Cadbury's Smash
Colman's Beef Casserole Mix
Colman's Bread Sauce Mix
Colman's Cheddar Cheese Sauce Mix
Colman's Horseradish
Colman's Mint Sauce
Colman's Mustard
Colman's Parsley Sauce Mix
Colman's Shepherd's Pie Mix
Golden Fry Yorkshire Pudding Mix
Heinz Apple Sauce
Heinz Baked Beans
Heinz Macaroni Cheese
Heinz Picalilli
Heinz Salad Cream
Heinz Spaghetti
Heinz Syrup Sponge
Heinz Tomato Ketchup
Heinz Tomato Soup
HP Sauce
Lee & Perrins Sauce
McDougalls Sponge Mix
McVitie's Digestive Biscuits
McVitie's Rich Tea Biscuits
Nescafe Original Coffee
Oxo Cubes Vegetable
Oxo Cubes Chicken
Paxo Stuffing
PG Tips Teabags
Polo Mints Tube
Robertson's Golden Shred
Robertson's Strawberry Jam
Rowntree's Strawberry Jelly
Sarson's Malt Vinegar
Walkers Packet of Crisps
An easy option for you in terms of shopping, carrying, and customs might be to ship a box to Australia for yourself and then present it to your friends in person, but I suppose it would be cheating. But maybe making up and mailing your own package to yourself would be better than carrying it on the plane, assuming you can get fast enough shipping.
posted by pracowity at 4:36 AM on October 5, 2007

Response by poster: Wow. MeFi strikes again! I had no idea these services existed! Thanks!
posted by SpacemanRed at 4:40 AM on October 5, 2007

Looking at that, I can tell you that HP Sauce, PG Tips, Marmite, OXO and Cadbury's are very much available. This lad like Marmite more than Vegemite. Other stuff, like the Heinz range, I can't guarantee are the same, although I know there is a Heinz "traditional english" baked beans available.
posted by Jimbob at 4:51 AM on October 5, 2007

Oh and we've got black pudding. I've seen it with my own eyes. Once again, I doubt it's been air-freighted from bonny Scotland, and I can't vouch for it.
posted by Jimbob at 4:54 AM on October 5, 2007

Best answer: You could check that they can't get any of the items in this British specialty shop in Perth before stocking up.
posted by meerkatty at 4:55 AM on October 5, 2007

Jaffa Cakes
posted by goshling at 5:10 AM on October 5, 2007

What's Marmite?

/ignorant yankee
posted by futility closet at 5:34 AM on October 5, 2007

When I was in London I loooooved the Walkers prawn cocktail crisps. They're impossible to find down here. Of course, they're a fairly unique flavour and it's quite possible your friends hate them, regardless of their availability here.
posted by twirlypen at 6:00 AM on October 5, 2007

Marmite = Delicious to some yeast spread. Most often liked by people who were force fed it as a child and believe that they should torture their own children by doing the same.

Vegemite is the Aussie equivalent.
posted by langeNU at 6:09 AM on October 5, 2007

Based on my experience in NSW, there's such a big British community in Australia that there is pretty much nothing your friend won't be able to get over there. There are a number of shops that specialize in British stuff, and supermarkets like Woolworths even have a small section for it.

Which is not to say the gesture won't be appreciated!
posted by caek at 6:18 AM on October 5, 2007

From reading the Wikipedia article, it seems the Marmite available in Oz might not be what your friend is used to so taking a mite of Marmite might still be a mighty good idea, mate. Sorry.
posted by merocet at 6:34 AM on October 5, 2007

Take 'em the latest Tatler Magazine. As a UK expat myself, this is my ghastly guilty pleasure - a glossy mag devoted to upper class Brits, their parties, country houses & pursuits.

It'll remind your friends of all the good reasons they quit dear old Blighty.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:34 AM on October 5, 2007

I'm not sure surprise foodstuffs are such a good idea. I'm a pretty traditional English person, and there are only about five things on that list above I could consume with a reasonable semblance of pleasure. With the possible exception of the crisps, it reads as if they stocked up the warehouse some time in the 1950s, using only goods that would keep for a hundred years in unrefrigerated conditions without materially deteriorating.

I'd ask your friends what they'd like. Maybe you could ask wife what husband would like and husband about wife, etc.
posted by Phanx at 7:51 AM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

Maybe find out their favourite sweets or junk food? Things like Revels, Haribo and chocolate oranges, and Penguin biscuits so they can see how exponentially better Tim Tams are for sure. Ask them what they miss the most.

In my (rather extensive) experience, Aus customs is fine with commercial products in original, unopened packaging (that aren't meat or fresh product-based).
posted by goo at 10:14 AM on October 5, 2007

Derail ahead, sorry.

Take 'em the latest Tatler Magazine... It'll remind your friends of all the good reasons they quit dear old Blighty.

I had the happy good fortune recently of partaking in Singapore Tatler, with articles such as "Winnie Cheu, 18, recently returned from finishing school in Switzerland, takes her spoodle Chichi Labelle to the new pet cafe and boutique in Ngee Ann City and tells us all about it" and photos of swish parties held on islands.

posted by goo at 10:27 AM on October 5, 2007

For me (British who left for the USA when a child), the things I want from England are overwhelmingly candy (and often the cheap kind, not nice stuff -- think sherbert candy and very artificial things, but also things like butter mintoes -- and, ooh, Mars bars) -- and then things that people either love or don't. For me these are pork pies, digestive biscuits, Branston Pickle and Branston's pickled baby beets. I haul these things back in quantity whenever I go to visit family, not because I can't get them here (although that's true of some of the candy and of the beets), but because they are SO MUCH CHEAPER there. So I would make 2 observations:

1. Even if the specialty British nostalgia merchandiser sells all the things on the list, they probably cost an exorbitant amount, preventing them from becoming daily use items. So a gift is awesome -- it means you can have a Branston Pickle sandwich without thinking about how it cost you $10.

2. I definitely nth the suggestion that you ask them what they want -- this idea that surprise gifts are always better isn't really true for food, and if you want that element, you could always bring way more than they expect, or still include more risky things that might entertain even if they end up not satisfying.
posted by obliquicity at 11:04 AM on October 5, 2007

As an expat myself, I'd like to also nth the 'ask them' suggestion. There's probably something very specific and odd that they have been pining for and can't find any local substitute. I have a list of things I've asked mom to stock up on before I go home for a visit next month, and she probably couldn't have guessed any of them.
posted by happyturtle at 11:48 AM on October 7, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks all - I've marked the "Best Answers" on the basis of the websites, which I never imagined existed (they *are* expensive and carriage is exhorbitant) but thanks especially to everyone who nth'd asking first.
posted by SpacemanRed at 5:59 AM on October 8, 2007

Response by poster: Update: I took lots of Cadbury's Dairy Milk Chocolate, which apparently tastes different out there, it went down very well!
posted by SpacemanRed at 3:27 PM on November 19, 2007

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