Your foreign correspondent writes …

It is no secret that I travel a lot for work. In fact, I get very excited when I know I have a stretch of a whole week or two of staying within the UK and usually tell everyone I know about it 😉

I often find the travel tiring and stressful. However, that is not to say that I don’t enjoy it. I love the opportunity to be in another country and appreciate the differences between wherever I am and home. I find myself in Brussels a lot and I’ve now discovered a couple of lovely restaurants as well as some beautiful vantage points in the city.

Having a small and mildly odd memento of my trips is all part of the process of discovery and acknowledgement of difference. Something mundane or belonging within a category of mundane things back home can become interesting when encountered abroad.  On my last trip to Norway I picked up a tube of chocolate hazelnut spread from the canteen of the client offices I was visiting.  I just knew my friend Misch would love it and so she did. Last Thursday, in Brussels, I was perusing the breakfast buffet in the hotel and discovered pots of speculoos pasta (or spread). I’ve never seen or heard of it before and have a penchant for sweet things so, naturally, I picked up two pots and put them in my handbag. I did the same thing the next morning. For research purposes, you understand.

It has the consistency of peanut butter and tastes very like those little biscuits often found wrapped up in plastic perched alongside a cup of coffee, with the added benefit that it is smoother and it makes the roof of my mouth tingle ever so slightly. In short, I could happily eat a lot of it. I mentioned my discovery to my Italian colleague who disinterestedly told me you can buy jars of it, as you can peanut butter. And on my weekly shopping trip to Waitrose, guess what I spotted? Jars of the very same stuff. That I’ve been oblivious to all this time. I shouldn’t really find it exotic at all, but somehow I do.

I thought briefly and resolved there and then, on the spot, to NEVER EVER buy a jar of it. The results could be disastrous* as I think its novelty will make it more addictive than Nutella, at least for long enough for me to have demolished several jars.

2014-02-15 14.49.53

*Although I note that this website assures me it contains “good, unsaturated fats” and “is rich in Omega 3”


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