It's been four long years - and a global pandemic - since Aussie actress and country singer Clare Bowen has been back home.
And just as long since she had a good meat pie.
"My mother has discovered gluten-free meat pies and I couldn't eat them for the longest time (because) I'm allergic to a lot of stuff," Bowen tells AAP.
"Now it will be me: I ate all the pies."
Accompanying her on the trip back back home this summer is Bowen's partner-in-music-and-life Brandon Young. He is hoping to qualify as an honourary Aussie, despite his own dubious pie-eating habits.
"He puts American mustard on them, isn't that funny?" Bowen teases her American husband of six years.
"I don't think I would have to do it at a footy match because I think I'd start a riot," Young laughs.
Pies aside, the duo - known professionally as Bowen*Young - are coming to Australia to tour their latest material at a series of gigs on the east coast in January, including an appearance at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
But they'll kick off their trip by performing at Carols By Candlelight at Melbourne's Sidney Myer Music Bowl on Christmas Eve, an honour Young says has "put this beautiful cherry on top of the whole trip".
Bowen's brother and fellow country singer Timothy James Bowen will be accompanying them for their tour... as will most of the family, Bowen clarifies.
"I love it that way. And I couldn't stop it if I tried," says the singer, who also played Scarlett O'Connor in the popular show Nashville.
"We can't get enough of each other as a family.
"We've nearly lost each other so many times, I think it's just such a blessing to get to hang out every minute."
At the age of four, Bowen's parents were told she had three weeks to live after doctors discovered a tumour the size of a football on her kidneys.
Three years of treatment saved her, but soon after the family was devastated again when her brother Timothy was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma. He too survived.
The near-tragedies that could have torn the family from Minnamurra, NSW, apart only succeeded in bringing them closer together, says Bowen, adding she feels they are fortunate to have gone through the experience.
"I wouldn't change anything that's ever happened to me. I would change it because the people who love me didn't have to go through it, of course," she says.
"But it kind of fortifies you in a way that you just kind of refuse to let the stupid little things ... worry you. It makes it very cut and dry: who and what you will allow into your life (and to) what you will give energy.
"It makes very clear what and who are the most important people and things in your life. We're all very good friends."
Bowen says she is glad to have such a close inner circle as she says she is "terrible" at networking.
But she must be doing something right. Aussies Cate Blanchett and Tina Arena are big fans who respectively encouraged her move to the US and helped her break into the industry. And the duo were a special guest at Billy Joel's recent Hyde Park gig in London.
They were even married by John Carter Cash at the Cash cabin in Tennessee in 2017.
The raw creative enthusiasm and genuine charm of the couple speaks volumes on stage and off.
"I'm in no way trying to sound hokey, but it's really a dream come true to be able to play music and follow your dream with your partner, with the person that you that you want to spend the rest of your life with," says Young, adding they aspire to the "beautiful dynamic" of other real life musician couples like the late Johnny Cash and June Carter; or Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa.
"I know for myself, having been a solo artist for a lot of years and touring with other acts, you know, I'm a better musician. I'm a better songwriter. I'm a better artist as a whole."
"We get to go around the world and see a bunch of, you know, beautiful different cities and different people and, and make amazing friends. And it would be unbearable if we had to do that apart from each other."
Bowen agrees they have found a special rhythm.
"I don't know what it is, but we just, we really like each other. I figure if you're going to get married, you should probably actually like each other," she says.
"I'm so much happier in a band now with Brandon than I was as a solo artist. I felt very grateful before, but it was lonely.
"We know exactly how lucky we are."
Australian Associated Press