Being part of an international population, firstly at Oxford University and now at my workplace (an international school in Paris), showed me the extent to which international food bargaining is rife. By this I mean simply that whenever anyone got wind of someone travelling to a country where they had fond memories of some sort of food product located there, a conversation would ensue along the lines of “I’ll pay you x £/$ to bring me back this much (insert foodstuff here)”/”I’ll love you forever if you bring me back a box of (insert foodstuff here)”…and so on. It was by this token, for instance, that I acquired a much-treasured and quickly-consumed box of Lucky Charms from an American friend (thanks Matt!).
However, while this method of acquiring hard-to-get foreign foodstuffs is still alive and well (as evidenced by the food trades that students in my school seem to make after every major holiday, and even among staff, particularly with Cadbury products), there are also other ways. While the internet is increasingly popular as a method of importing foreign confectionery, the holy Grail of international sweetie lovers in Britain is undoubtedly located on Garrick Street in West London. Even though the Cybercandy store also has outlets in Brighton and Birmingham, the one in London is arguably the true original.
Here you can buy just about anything, from chocolate-covered insects to Pocky to Lucky Charms to Ghirardelli chocolate to Mountain Dew, as well as many other unidentifiable Asian delights. The shop is small but perfectly formed, and instead of baskets to carry your goods in as you shop, they offer brightly-coloured heart-shaped buckets. There’s also a webcam located in the ceiling which you can use to wave to family and friends who know you’re going there. (Sad? Maybe.) Be careful, though – it’s all too easy to spend an awful lot of money in this place. This time I got away with a conservative spend of £7.77, but on a previous visit a friend racked up a bill of over £30 (though he says it wasn’t all for him – that’s what they all say…).
I won’t lie – admittedly this place is expensive at £6.50 for a box of cereal and 50p per square of Ghirardelli chocolate. However, unless you have the (mis)fortune to live in the area, a visit here is usually only an occasional treat for most people – so feel free to go nuts.