We live in a time when we can – without ever changing out of our PJs – easily order some authentic food item from overseas and be eating it the very next day. But there is nothing like walking down the aisles of a store, seeing and touching things, especially if those things are imported and invoke some kind of nostalgia.
Growing up in Hong Kong when it was still a British colony, you are not exposed to a lot of traditional English cuisine per se, but you could buy the many imported packaged goods on the market. Especially things like biscuits, candies, chocolate, other confectioneries. For me it was Fruitips, Polo mints, and the original Lucozade in the glass bottles (otherwise I probably had more Asian junkfood). I think my mother would reminisce about things like McVities digestives.
Of course, McVities and Fruitips are not foreign to our supermarkets. But if you grew up on this continent you’d probably only have seen them in one light – North American packaging. A far cry from their original incarnations – which when encountered invoke much nostalgia for the non-indigenous folks. One place you can experience this kind of kid-in-a-yesteryear-candy-store-nostaglia is at the British Home Store in Steveston. It’s a little shop, but they have tons of British goodies – cookies, teas, spreads, chocolate, candy- all in their original packaging, and freshly made treats like pies and stuff. Bought some goodies, some of my mother’s favorites (I think):
Essex apricot jam from Tiptree.
Fox’s Ginger Snaps.
Irish Breakfast tea from Taylors of Harrogate. (Irish Breakfast is not quite the same as English Breakfast, it has a slightly stronger flavor but is similarly comforting. It is not easy to find. They have them at The Secret Garden tea house, but as loose tea leaves and not bags. Twinnings sell boxes of IB tea bags, but no store I have been to have had them in stock.)
What is really a shame is that the city has decided to let developers tear down years of history on this block of Steveston Village full of its little speciality stores and heritage buildings, including the British Home Store, to build condominiums. That’s right, this very landmark Steveston block that has stood in Richmond since what seems like the beginning of time. Luckily the British Home Store will be relocating elsewhere in Steveston, but still, the whole thing angers me.
British Home Store
3986 Moncton Street (corner of Moncton and No. 1 Rd), Steveston Village, Richmond
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