I'm not sure how I came across the idea of foodie penpals but from the second I visited the website I knew it was for me.
The premise is that every month you are assigned a random foodie pen-pal, from England or further afield in Europe and you put together a package for them to the value of approximately £10. On the same day every month everyone sends their parcels off and around 10 days later blog about what they have received (or not if you don't have a blog). The person you send to and the person you receive from are different so it is a big circle built on trust and a shared love of food and it's completely free to join. Sounds interesting? You can check out full details here http://thisisrocksalt.com/foodie-penpals/
This month was my first and putting together a food package and it was nerve racking. You do contact your pen-pal in advance to see if they have any particular likes or dislikes but even still tastes vary so wildly it is a bit of a lottery. In the end I just wandered aimlessly round Wholefoods Piccadilly Circus (fave place in the world!) and flinging things I liked the look of in my basket, with some help from my bestie.
I've been away on holiday but I came back to my parcel from Alan (http://chalkypilot.wordpress.com/) and it felt like Christmas! It was so well thought out and put together, with local ingredients and even some homemade treats, which made me think hard about what I might send out next month. Here is a selection of the lovely gifts I received.
Chilli is one of my favourite meals so I can't wait to try this out!
A beautiful (upside-down) piece of homemade tiffin, hardly made it passed the front door.
Probably the most intriguing inclusions, Baked Bean curry sounds like a great stand-by meal and I have just taken to eating fish curry, I can't get enough so this is also very welcome :)
Homemade (by Alan's wife) spiced winter chutney - yum, and some lovely chutney made with Tiger Ale which is made locally to Alan.
A very blurry picture of some most delicious local Red Leicester, which I am going to enjoy as some lovely bubbly cheese on toast at the weekend!
I think the best thing about the scheme is that it connects you with likeminded foodaholics (who are a very friendly bunch!) and it has already introduced me to some fabulous blogs and people, long may it continue!