Last month I joined a program created by a blogger “The Lean Green Bean” a.k.a Lindsay a 26 year old Dietetic Tech from Ohio who is pursuing her passion of becoming a Registered Dietician. This program is known as Foodie Pen Pals. Instead of sending letters to your randomly selected pen pal, you send a package of treats created by you within a budget of $15. Along with your package you include something handwritten that lets them know a little about you and/or why you chose what you did for them. In return, you also receive a package from a totally different foodie pen pal filled with treats and notes. Each month the cycle begins again with new pairings, so you have the opportunity to share and get to know people from all corners of the US and Canada.
I was drawn to the concept for a number of reasons. First, food is a manner in which many cultures (including my own) show their love for others. What a wonderful way, I thought, to show someone else who I am. It made me think of the care packages my friend’s mom would send her filled with home baked cookies and other things she missed. Granted, I am a total stranger to this person, but I can bridge the familial gap through my careful and thoughtful selection of food items that appeal to their tastes and dietary preferences. Secondly, I love the randomness of treats that are native to an area. It speaks a lot about the environment and allows me to experience something local and special from a place I may never see. Lastly, it’s a unique way of meeting like minded people without the phoniness of social networks. Food is real, tangible connection. So are handwritten notes that no one else needs to see but you. As part of the program, you blog at the end of the month about what you received from your foodie pen pal. If you’re not a blogger, you can just email your pen pal and let them know what joy their treat box brought you.
My foodie pen pal was a sweetheart of a girl from Waco, TX named Laney. Her blog is A Little Bit of Everything – literally. She calls herself a novice foodie, but her box of treats was like a celebration of all things Texan. She even went to the Farmer’s Market in her area to pick up treats she knew would be absolutely local and unique. Here’s what was in my box:
- The Salt Lick Texas Salsa (can’t wait to try this with some homemade Ranch dressing – a mixture my good friend Stephanie introduced me to who is also from Texas 🙂
- TruBar (nuts and dried fruit bar that was not overly sweet like so many brands NYC delis carry)
- Justin’s All Natural Peanut Bar (better than a Reese’s)
- Apple Pie Native Pecans from the Pecan Shop (my bf snatched them never to be tasted by yours truly…they now reside in his belly)
- Aunt Aggie De’s Pralines (so richly sweet…needs to be eaten in moderation and with strong coffee)
- Wildflower Honey from Texas (almost as good as the mountain honey we ate in Greece as kids)
I can’t believe she only spent $15 but then again, NYC is an expensive city; things are way cheaper in TX. I was so touched by her selections especially since I already had honey and salsa written on my grocery list. Without knowing me, she really picked things out food items that were absolutely in my heart. A true mixture of healthy and sweetness. She did an amazing job.