Going postal

October 25, 2010

Don’t you love getting food in the post?

I have only had this pleasure a few times (apart from deliveries from Feather & Bone, of course, which land at one’s door rather than in the postbox, and when you send them to yourself they don’t really count, I think) and I just love it. Why is it so much fun, I wonder? If it’s a surprise, of course, that’s part of the pleasure, but there’s something else I can’t put my finger on, that makes getting a jar of home-made pickles or biscuits – or a parcel of garlic shoots! – from the postman such a huge treat.

I am starting to investigate the posting of food in a bit more detail, because there are so many times when I would love to send off something very perishable just as a gesture of cookery love. Last Christmas I mailed off a couple of packets of brownies, which worked just fine, but what I have really wanted to send lately, but didn’t have the guts to, is a bowl of chicken soup to a friend who was flattened by illness and general misery.

Is that mad? I thought she might think so, and also find that a dripping parcel of potentially lethal substances might make her even sicker, so I decided against it.

But what do you reckon? Think it could be done? I am going to experiment soon and try it. I think if you packed a tub of soup – frozen solid – in a sturdy insulated container packed tightly with some soft ice packs, and made sure it couldn’t move and taped it down securely, and then sent it Express Post so it arrived next morning, it must surely be okay?

Australia Post proudly chats about a cheesemaker who uses their Express Post service here, so with some extra ice for insurance, I reckon it must be okay. Will test it out first on some siblings, perhaps, before I venture into sending soup to people who might actually sue me (you wouldn’t do that, would you, siblings?).

Other, less perishable food is a total cinch to send. I even sent a box full of preserved lemon, preserved home-grown tomatoes and some chutneys and whatnot to a friend in Switzerland recently, and because I’m an idiot I didn’t realise till I’d left the post office that I’d accidentally sent them by sea, so they took months and months to arrive – but all safely, and to my knowledge without any subsequent poisoning taking place.

More recently, I ordered some of Moon over Martinborough’s gorgeous first harvest of olive oil – if you haven’t read the MoM blog, you’re missing out on some deliciously entertaining writing (and even podcasts!) about the adventures of two American lads landing in New Zealand and starting an olive farm. I ordered their oil from their local wine & olive oil centre, and while the postage made it a slightly more expensive option than usual, it was so worth it for the excitement of its arrival and the quality of the oil itself, of course.

And now, after my barging in on a Twitter chat between @orwellski and @judyhoracek about their love of marmalade from a particular Melbourne annual fete, @orwellski (who, it turns out, happens to be the beau of the fabulous writer Kate Cole-Adams!) has promised to post me a jar of said marmalade! Okay, so I kind of demanded it, but that doesn’t diminish my great excitement at its imminent arrival.

I would love to hear if you too love food by mail – what have you sent or received, and how did you ensure its safe passage?


  1. I love mail-order parcels of all kinds, whether seeds to plant, garden goodies, books – I just love that ‘open the parcel’ mail-order buzz. When I opened one recent very small parcel containing a diecast model Citroen car which I had been waiting on for a while, the parcel was strewn with little packets of colourful German lollies with a note from the sender saying sorry it had taken so long. Such a nice surprise, some food in the mail.

  2. Well I got some freshly tapped Vermont maple syrup from a fellow blogger a while back, and the excitement was unbounded, so I am just passing on the thrill…..I see how you have precluded any vacillating on my part: nice one.

  3. Cool, lollies from strangers, Jamie! I like it. And I agree that plants are almost in the same category; love the Diggers seed packs almost as much.

    And @orwellski! How nice to see you beyond the twittersphere, and yes I thought that was some pretty smooth blackmailing action myself. Was almost going to leave this post until after the marmalade eagle landed, but then thought, ‘Nah, put the screws on …’

  4. Great ideas in here. You are able to send perishable food items through the post as long as they are expected to arrive prior to spoilage. Air and water tight containers are a must to prevent damage to other people’s items. For some more info you can look over our dangerous goods guide via http://auspost.com.au/media/documents/dangerous-prohibited-goods-packaging-post-guide.pdf specifically D3.8, D10.5.

    Good luck with your food parcels!!

    • Wow thanks Nathan! Talk about customer service, good old Aussie Post in action. Will definitely check out your guide and post with confidence. Thanks so much for popping by …

  5. Nice work on the marmalade procurement project, Shuckin’ – yummy.

    I associate food parcels with college ‘care packages’ that used to arrive for some lucky students from their country of origin when I was studying in Canada many, many moons ago. I used to positively gag with envy and curiosity and post lust, so once I was back in Australia, I started sending an Italian friend in the year below boxes of Aussie junk – BBQ Shapes, Twisties, Tim Tams – to fortify him for his final year. And there it ended – nearly 20 years ago!!!

  6. I don’t know any one who doesn’t love parcels,unless they are the ticking kind and I don’t mean mattresses. Even self ordered ones qualify, in fact particularly self ordered ones – books, DVD’s or food – because it is exactly what we would have chosen for ourselves, and prepared to wait for.

    It’s also the separation between payment and delivery, perhaps. The item feels like a present when it so definitely isn’t.

  7. Charlotte, have you read Gay Bilson’s Plenty? There’s a passage in there about sending friends packages of her sorrel soup from her property in South Australia – might be worth checking out! (I’d check for you but my copy seems to have temporarily disappeared.)

  8. I sent a tin of Anzac biscuits to a charming man in America who granted me permission to use material he had the rights to in my book. Admittedly he had dropped a pretty heavy hint in his letter, signing off with ‘I wish Ms Clifford-Smith all the best. I wonder if she bakes cookies.’

    (It was an airtight tin in a padded bag – worked a treat.)

  9. Hmmm. Soup in the mail. I’ll have to think about that one. If you did freeze it, and then put it in one of those FoodSaver bag things that sucks all the air out, (you’d have to do it when the soup is frozen solid, of course) and then packed it in cold packs…just might work if it gets delivered the next day. I love getting surprises in the mail – as long as they aren’t from the Internal Revenue Service or some other arm of the government.

  10. Boarding school mail day.
    We’d all line up behind the boarders from furtherest away – their care packages were the biggest and bound to include home made jam, fruit cakes etc.
    Those girls had the most friends way before facebook!

  11. I did an exchange (from Canberra) with a Melbourne food blogger – will swap food for craftz – and bubblewrapped the jars and wrapped the quince paste in waxproof then two layers of foil.

    The Bruny Island Cheese Club sends me cheese through the post, and last time saffron and rillettes, too.

  12. Meant to post in the link, showing my orsm gloves – http://peasoupoftheday.blogspot.com/search?q=zoe

  13. LOVE LOVE love all these, thank you everybody! Zoe, your gloves are indeed divine and I am very inspired by the swap idea. Must go stalk somebody on Etsy and offer them pickles …

    Hughesy – boarding school, a whole world of food obsession I imagine. My mum used to send Anzac biscuits to my sister and her friends, and my dad sent pork pies, I now remember! God knows how they lasted but nobody was poisoned …

    Grad, good ideas about soup – and I have been meaning to read Plenty for ages now Lucy, so this is a perfect excuse. Her sorrel soup is famous, I understand.

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