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What foods have traveled in your carry-on?

The X-Ray tech at Laguardia didn't blink a minute at the 14 bagels I schlepped in my carry-on to Charleston on Sunday. What types of foods have traveled in your carry-on baggage?

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  1. back in the "olden days of travel" chocolate from switzerland,cheese from italy, wine etc. nowadays don't think customs would be as lenient:(

    2 Replies
    1. re: winebarb

      Lao sticky rice, sausage, and laab to eat along the course of the next 38 hours of travel; bresiola, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Pec-Rom and other cheeses from Rome; Oaxaca cheese from DF; smoked cheeses from Nicaragua; dried squid and fish from different places in Asia; plastic containers of ume boshi, rice vinegar, from Japan...

      But that is just a fraction of what I bering back, the rest packed in my check in.

      1. re: winebarb

        You can still carry chocolate and cheese, but not, of course, wine. In fact, I rarely travel without both of those in my carryon, as I figure you can happily survive almost indefinitely on those two foods. I even declared the cheese and they didn't blink (of course, this was Newark, where I swear you could declare a kilo of cocaine and they'd just wave you through). The only cheese you're not supposed to bring in is cheese less than 60 days old.

        Other "frequent flyers" in my carryon: fruit, crackers, peanut butter, cookies, jam/marmalade/preserves/honey. I brought about 5 pounds of Macoun apples back from New England last fall. This last trip I was hand carrying blown-glass stemware, so the food went in my checked luggage (cheese, pasta, chestnut honey, etc.).

      2. nothing. no hams, no dried fish, no smoked meats. i especially never carry wines or spirits.

        1. Before 9/11, all manner of oils, vinegars, yogurts, cheeses, sake, etc. These days I only dare pack solids in the carry on, and these have included unusual varieties of cucumbers, eggplant, and various vegetables and dried fruits I either can't find or are exorbitantly expensive here because they add freight from the coast to the middle of the country. I once froze some manju from a bakery on the west coast and packed that, hoping that their frozen state would not belie how gelatinous they really are. I got away with it, though they weren't quite as delish upon thawing. Still better than anything I get here, unless I venture into manju making myself. I have also brought back pickled vegetables and kimchee, which TSA passed through the x-ray without a word. I was a little surprised at that. I expected to have to give them up, but I guess they didn't look liquidy?

          5 Replies
          1. re: amyzan

            Brought back an amazing assortment of dried sausages and great cheeses from France...just figured if they were going to bust me they'd bust me...nobody even took a glance in my bag...

            1. re: amyzan

              Also pre-9/11, my Belgian grandmother (who lived here on her greencard which made bringing fresh product through SFO really risky for her deportation) brought wine, cheese, chocolate, garlic, and cookies in her carry on. I guess custom agents thought a 5 foot grandmother who spoke with a heavy French accent looked innocent enough to wave through.

              1. re: MIss G

                I don't think any of those -- except some cheeses and maybe the garlic -- are illegal. A lot of people mistakenly think they're only allowed to bring in a limited amount of alcohol, but the limit only applies to the amount you can bring in duty-free. You can bring in as much if you want if you're willing to pay duty on it.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  I thinks it's not a problem when re-entering your native country

                  1. re: MIss G

                    Nope. Duty is owed on certain goods when they're brought into the country, no matter who brings them in. Here's the wikipedia on "duty-free": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duty-free, which says in part: "It is a common feature of most tax systems that taxes are not raised on goods to be exported. To do so would place the goods at a disadvantage to those from other countries. Either the tax system allows the goods to be exported without taxes (stored prior to export in a bonded warehouse), or taxes can be claimed back when they are exported (see VAT).

                    Such exemption also applies to goods supplied for use on ships and aircraft, because they are consumed outside the country. Businesses supplying such goods can do so tax- and duty-free.

                    Goods sold to passengers on board ships or aircraft are tax free. The passenger can either consume them on board, or import them tax-free into the country they are travelling to, so long as they are within the traveller's Duty-free allowance. Most tax regimes also allow travellers entering a country to bring in a certain amount of goods without paying tax on them, the so-called "duty-free allowance"; because it is not economically justifiable to collect the small amounts of tax involved, and would be an inconvenience to the passengers.

                    A duty-free shop works under the same system. The goods must be exported intact (they cannot be consumed in the airport), and they are importing into the destination country under that country's own tax rules."

            2. Once upon a time, I went through airport security at Kennedy with a suitcase that contained a dozen miniature canned hams (thoughtful gifts when touring homes in some tropical countries). When that suitcase went through the metal detector two security guards grabbed me and took me away. That was way too much metal for their liking. It took a lot of explaining but I eventually I got to take the canned hams.

              1. Chiles, beans, vanilla beans, mezcal, chocolate, jamacia flowers, dried oregano, mole paste, sal de espuma del mar (aka salt), gelatina, maguey worms, vino santo, cookies and a maine coon cat.

                1. A whole gigantic NYC pizza, from NY to California. Damn it was hard not eating it when they gave us the crappy airplane food, but we'd been eating it for weeks and were bringing it back for our west coast friends who'd never had new york pizza.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: lkhorgan

                    I think I did the reverse. I brought a burrito from CA to DC. It was wrapped in tinfoil and I put it in a tupperware. When it went through the xray, the screener called another guy over. They looked at it puzzled until she said "I think it's a burrito."

                  2. I visited friends in Germany (Americans) they missed their favorite pizza - I carried one from NY to Germany for them - they loved it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: apples58

                      Thats funny, I did the same but from Germany to the States with about a dozen Bavarian Pretzels....Damn I couldn't take the keg !!!

                    2. Two frozen beef tongues from Tampa to Chapel Hill. Scanner didn't skip a beat. They were cryovac-ed and well-packed with insulation and freezer packs, but I was taking a risk if there was a delay of more than 4 hours!

                      (Explanation, so I sound slightly less crazy :).... I got addicted to lengua tacos in grad school and wanted to make them at home. Unfortunately, the only place in town where tongue was still even on the order list was Whole Foods, and it was almost $10/pound! My schedule often seemed too hectic to hunt elsewhere in the area (e.g. Raleigh, Durham) to find cheaper tongue (grad school food budget). BUT, when I went down to Tampa to meet my boyfriend's father, we went to the grocery store, and lo and behold- TONGUE! For less than $3/pound! I talked with the butcher there about freezing it and preparing it- he seemed quite amused by my excitement. So did my boyfriend and his dad....but, at least they didn't discourage me! And now I have the story to share...:)

                      1. Half a Zuni Chicken from San Francisco. My wife and I were on vacation and we scored a last minute table at Zuni the night before we were leaving. We ate half of the chicken at the restaurant then packed the rest of it up and kept it in our hotel fridge overnight. By the time we got on the plane and we ready to eat, it had come to room temp so that was our lunch. Best. Airplane. Food. Ever.

                        When my wife had to fly to Kentucky for work on a semi regular basis, she used to bring back (to Philadelphia) BBQ ribs and pulled pork in a little cooler. Security asked her what she had in there and she replied, "Just ribs and pork." They waved her through.

                        We have also brought back dulce de leche (and various other candies) from the Dominican Republic and wine from Sonoma (pre liquid ban),

                        1. I bring bagels back whenever I visit the folks in Montreal. I've also snuck Corn Bran cereal, Ace Bakery organic granary bread and various PC products across the border.

                          When I came back from Italy a couple years ago, I brought back obscenely shaped pasta and artisanal tarallucci.

                          Generally, bread and grain products work well because they don't leak or smoosh.

                          1. Way back when - blood oranges from Italy. This was ages before we had heard of them in the U\.S.

                            1. back in the good ole days, almost anything.

                              I love the girls at LGA -- they always let my cheese cakes thru. Gotta bring back Stage Deli for the hubster.

                              Arthur Bryant's burnt ends have come on a few trips with me too.

                              I'm really digging the crappy food on the planes these days. It's motivated me to bring on good food. The Rainer cherries and Humboldt Fog on Triscuits I ate on the flight back from SFO made the trip seem so short.

                              And lately I have been stuffing my carryon with mexican candy since I can't find most of the best stuff here in TO.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: orangewasabi

                                I've never had a problem with cheesecake - I regularly schlep it from LGA and JFK to RDU (Raleigh Durham) for the boyfriend...Junior's original, of course.

                                Snuck an entire chorizo from Spain back to NY very recently. Was sweating all the way through customs.

                                1. re: theannerska

                                  Ha! I got you beat. A whole chorizo AND a whole Serrano ham. Yes, customs was a rather tense moment, but well worth it.

                                  1. re: Bat Guano

                                    Nice work!!! Wish I had some jamon for Christmas...

                              2. I traveled with a cheesecake, too! I brought a large frozen cheesecake from St. Paul, MN, to Geneva, Switzerland as a hostess gift (actually, a "host gift"). It defrosted on the way and my friend devoured almost half of it as soon as I gave it to him.

                                And I always have chocolate in my carry-on. On the way there, it's plane food, and on the way back, it's the results of our shopping.


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: AnneInMpls

                                  Count me in as one who travels with cheesecake. Homemade, frozen, wrapped in plastic wrap then foil. I offer to unwrap for inspection and there's never a problem (all post 9/11).

                                  I once flew home with 10 pounds of frozen rib eye steaks in a small cooler. Back then, they didn't even check what was in there.

                                  Snack foods don't count, IMHO. Gutsy move on the Serrano there Bat Guano. I'm envious.

                                2. I am almost at the very end of the jar of home-cured capers I smuggled home from Greece last summer. Just sprinkled some into a salad tonight. I will have to dole the remainder out one caper at a time. Not much left.

                                  1. A suitcase full of freshly-picked Ohio sweet corn from the field - straight from Columbus to San Francisco; burrata from Italy to eat the same day; Maui onions - my vacation not-a-lei souvenir; a 10-lb. bag of Walla Walla onions.

                                    1. I just brought back a paper bag full of candied mandarin oranges and candied rose and violet petals from Florian's, outside Grasse. I was pulled for a random customs check when I arrived back in the States. I told them I had food, they looked at the bag and waved me through. Other things have to be cryovaced. I brought some parmigiano from Italy a few years ago. My luggage didn't come in at customs- when it was finally delivered, it was without the cheese and with a note from the inspectors. I think dogs sniffed the cheese and the my luggage was pulled out for a check.

                                      1. Pastrami sandwich from Carnegie deli, caviar and cheese from Zabars. bottled beer from Czech Republic, big pretzel from Munich; also other stuff like wine, candy, bottled saffron and snacks. Many of these things were before 9/11.

                                        1. My daughter brought me Bread (tons), Sweet Butter, piri-piri sauce, pastries (pasteis de nata) and other goodies from Portugal (I missed the last trip there). I trained her so well... My favorite is pates from all over Europe. When my daughters were younger they thought the customs people really were the "pate police" - my name for them :)

                                          1. In December, I brought home a whole pizza from Philly to Dallas. I couldn't come back to Dallas without having some of my hometown pizza.

                                            1. A tupperware container of hot sauce from L'As du Falafel in Paris, which my husband acquired with his very fractured French.

                                              1. popovers.. diddy reese cookies... loco moco... rum cake... honolulu cookies... malasadas... cup o' noodle... etc etc =)

                                                1. Returning from Paris a few years ago, I had managed to get on the plane with a nice piece of Bucheron. I look back at it now and can't believe it wasn't confiscated on the spot. I mean, it was only wrapped in a paper napkin. I had been to dinner the night before, and had decided it was just the thing my sister-in-law would absolutely love to have, so I asked the waiter to wrap it up for me. No problem, madame!

                                                  1. Well before the security problems, I brought back live lobster from Boston. Cheesecake and Bagels from New York. Lots of liquor from islands and jars of jams, spreads and condiments from all over. Green Chilie from Albuquerque. Oh and My Dad used to smoke his own salmon and albacore and pack it into jars and canned it, and I brought that delcious goodness back alot. Every trip inlcuded jars and jars. Loved it. How I wish I'd written his instructions down...We thought about a cooler full of ice for shrimp and crab, but I never did it/ such a quick flight from SF to Olympia, but just didn't do it.

                                                    1. Well, I just traveled from JFK back to Texas a few days ago with a bunch of bagels, some nice goat cheese, chocolates, pizza, cheesecake, and doughnuts. The one item they confiscated were several bottles of Poland Springs Raspberry Lime sparkling water that I had put at the bottom of my carry on luggage near the toiletries. They asked if I had bottled water and I fessed up; I was so disappointed b/c it was a surprise for my S.O. who used to live in NY and loves that water. What was so infuriating was that they confiscated my mineral water, but not my pepper spray (a TX girl going to NYC alone, can you blame me)... Not very comforting!

                                                      1. I carried a bag of frozen shoulder bacon and nine vaccum packed dry-aged rib-eye steaks out to Seattle and then came back with a bag full of fresh copper river salmon. Considered it a fair trade! The security screeners were drooling over the rib-eyes!

                                                        1. Oh boy:

                                                          - 30 pounds of ribs and brisket from Sonny Bryan's in Dallas, Texas (this occurred bi-monthly for 2 years) to NJ
                                                          - 2 "Pop-a-Pizza" (half baked) from Giordanos from Chi to NJ. This was almost weekly for 18 months
                                                          - sausage and cheese from Germany
                                                          - Wine from Israel
                                                          - Cheese from France

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                            Wow, jfood, you must have REALLY liked Sonny Bryans!
                                                            I have yet to try the place, believe it or not.

                                                            1. re: QueenB

                                                              Best BBQ I ever had! Love their slogan, too: "Open 6:00 am until the food runs out"

                                                            2. re: jfood

                                                              heh heh, I hear you, jfood. Before 9/11, I carried about 30 lbs of RAW chicken, ribs, and racks of lamb on the shuttle from LGA to Washington DC ! Packed in ice in a duffel. I was doing a BBQ for my office down there, and I wanted to rub and prep the meat the day before.

                                                              When that meat and bones went through the x-ray, the tech looked at it on the screen, looked at me, looked at the meat, looked at me, and called her supervisor. The sup looked at the meat, looked at me, looked at the meat, and looked at me. I put my hands in the air and yelled "BARBECUE!"

                                                              She asked to look in the bag (big surprise). I showed it to her. She took a long look at me, then just said "have a nice day." I did!

                                                              1. re: woodburner

                                                                jfood's favorite Sonny's story. If you knew the skinny guy with a cigarette in his mouth, it's actually his story, made a little PC for this board.

                                                                Two Japanese businessmen going back to Tokyo. They call Sonny;s and ask for about 200 pounds of stuff (meat, ribs, ham). They pick it up and sinny had it all nice and boxed. They pay thousands for the boxes.

                                                                The next day the phone rings, "Mr. Sonny, Mr. Ito here." We went to DFW and checked all the boxes of meat. When we got to Narita and went to the luggage carousels, the meat never showed up. Any idea what might happened?" The skinny guy responded "I have no idea, but I heard there was a really big freaking BBQ party at DFW last night." (Insert laughter).

                                                            3. When my parents moved from Texas back to California ( I was around 10 or 11) the one thing they found they missed the most was Texas-style hickory barbque. Right before Thanksgiving a year or two later my mother had to return to Texas to defend her thesis. So she decided to bring home a hickory-smoked barbqued turkey on the plane for the upcoming feast. Apparently it caused quite the commotion in the cabin, as everyone was turning her way and trying to determine where the smell was coming from.....

                                                              I can't for the life of me remember how she actually packed it.....

                                                              My carry-on foods have been somewhat more boring....although when we went to Tunisia late last year we were given some beautiful bottles of wonderful olive oil by our guests. I knew they wouldn't make it through security, but I was sure they wouldn't make it home to Reno in our regular packed luggage. Well, they did, and we thoroughly enjoyed the oil for several months afterwards!

                                                              1. My funniest food souvenir was a whole round of pecorino from a small cheesemaker near Pienza in Italy. That I shlepped it home wasn't the funny part. What was hilarious was that my 3 companions and I purchased these cheeses on day 5 of a 3 week trip through Tuscany and Umbria. What we didn't consider at the time was the actual logistics of carrying semi-perishable cheese around in a car for 2-1/2 weeks. One time we even had to take our cheeses to the beach in the picnic cooler because we couldn't leave them in the hot parked car. I am very sorry I didn't take a picture of the four cheeses lounging on the beach chair...

                                                                Incredibly - they not only made it through the trip, but they also made it through customs (along with many other miscellaneous food items too numerous to list). I mean, how can you not bring food back from Italy?

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Nyleve

                                                                  I'll say it again: it's perfectly okay to bring back cheese, as long as it's aged more than 60 days. Meat products, on the other hand, are a no-no.

                                                                2. A smoked turkey (pre 9/11 - well wrapped in foil & tossed in a duffel bag.

                                                                  1. Chicken salad sandwich from the Carnegie Deli; Flatbread crackers w/ Humus, Baba & that delicious spread with small fish roe in it. Stilton cheese on dinner rolls

                                                                    Pre 9/11: a nice David Bruce Pettite Syrah in a bicycle water bottle

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: neil

                                                                      I just realized in reading these responses where my "food souvenir" roots began. As a child of the 80's I was obsessed with the Hard Rock Cafe restaurants. My first and only visit to one was in Dallas, upon which I transported my leftover french fries on the flight back to Atlanta. Of course, I left them on the plane. I'm sure my mom accidentally on purpose forgot to remind me to grab them. I did however manage to remember my neon pink logo t-shirt.

                                                                      Ketchup Lay's from Nova Scotia
                                                                      Sugar Cane Skewers, Kona Coffee & Pineapple from Maui

                                                                      1. re: charlestonebayer

                                                                        Whole sweet potato pie from Thanksgiving @ Mom's every year for the last 7 years.

                                                                    2. cinnabon cinnamon rolls...we didnt have them in N.M. at the time...

                                                                      1. Wow, I am not nearly as adventurous as all of you. The only time I have EVER transported food, other than my typical trailmix/power bar snack, is when I haul an obscene amount of citrus from FL to IN for my family at the height of the season. I tried once to avoid this by going to one of the places that sends the citrus for you, but my family swears it is not the same as the stuff I pick myself and carry on the plane so I suppose once a year I will continue to be the crazy orange lady on the plane, haha..

                                                                        1. 10 pounds of chopped pork shoulder and BBQ sauce from Memphis every time I went there on business. I would call ahead and they would freeze it for me.

                                                                          1. Those of you that have brought food into the US--do you declare it on your customs form? And what happens if you do?

                                                                            When I went to London a year ago I brought back a LOT of Cadburys but didn't declare it, reasoning that chocolate isn't really food (LOL) and fortunately didn't get the special search. What are the rules--no meat or unaged cheese, what else?

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: coney with everything

                                                                              Unprocessed plants/fruits/vegetables -- exotic pests that hitch a ride on someone's smuggled fruit or cuttings (justified by "you just can't get real XXXX here") cost the US government (that's you and me, the taxpayers) and agriculture hundreds of millions of dollars (maybe more) every year. Personally, I think the government shouldn't police stuff like meat and cheese: if we want to risk the tiny chance of making ourself sick, let us. But when you smuggle those "real" mangoes you're endangering the whole agricultural system for your personal pleasure.

                                                                              To get back to the question of what to declare: declare it. If it's legal (like chocolate), then you don't have anything to hide, but if they find out you didn't declare the legal stuff, they're going to think you're dishonest and wonder if you've got any illegal stuff you also didn't declare and you'll be in trouble. Besides, the more you write on that little form, the less likely they are to read it! Don't lie to the government unless you have to! ;-)

                                                                              Finally, try to go through customs in Newark -- in several trips through there I've never seen them inspect anything or give more than a cursory glance at my documents.

                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                re: the more you write, the less likely they are to read it: Since a lot of my travels are to go somewhere to dive, which means the spots I am going to aren't necessarily food meccas (often I spend most if not all of the trip on a boat) and how many t-shirts does one need anyway, both of which mean that sometimes I come home with little or nothing purchased...and I worry they will get suspicious if I tell the truth and say I spent nothing on souvenirs! I find myself wondering if I should make up typical tourist stuff and write it down, just so I don't have the delay of having them search through a bunch of scuba gear...

                                                                                I did bring home olive oil from Tunisia, successfully packed in my luggage, and dates...wondered if the dates were legal, declared them, no problem....but in my family it was my mother who won the prize: in the sixties we had recently moved from Houston to the bay area, and one of the few things the family really missed about Houston was fabulous smoked turkey from a bbq place (Alas, name of the spot is lost to history)...Anyway, my mother went back to Houston for a visit shortly before Thanksgiving and came home with a whole smoked turkey and bbq sauce, in her carry on! Most chowish thing my mother ever did without a doubt!

                                                                                Edited to add: oh, didn't read all the way down, and I see Janet beat me to that story... :-) oh well, I still remember how wonderful the turkey tasted!

                                                                              2. re: coney with everything

                                                                                Last year, returning from india, I had biscuits in my luggage. I declared them and they gave me a hard time. The immigration chap acted like it was contraband. Quite irritating but I think its because I usually look guilty and can never lie with a straight face. My DH on the other hand can bring in 'anything' without a problem. never gets asked or checked.

                                                                              3. About 25 years ago or so, I brought a Honeybaked ham home from law school with me.

                                                                                Amateur on the 14 bagels. I routinely take 3-4 dozen from NY to an out-of-town cousin, but that goes under the plane. On the plane, I routinely bring my cousin danish; italian heroes (marinated mushrooms and peppers are in containers, on the side, to help preserve the bread); tongue and potato salad from a specific Kosher deli; smoked fish. Occasionally, since a certain brand of mozzarella cheese goes on sale here and is 2-3 times the price in the cousin's city, it's a few pounds of Polly-O mozzarella. I sometimes bring back various flavors of sausage. When I last traveled, I accidentally put a bottle of salad dressing in my carry-on and the TSA guy was really nice about it. He said if I opened it and tasted it, he would let me keep it. I did, so he did. And now that the airlines serve only beverages, I usually pick up a sandwich or some cold side salads to snack on on the plane. I try not to pick stinky stuff for the plane ride, though.

                                                                                When Mom used to travel to visit the same cousin and her mother, she often brought smoked fis/appetizing, including a whole smoked whitefish (not the little weenie chubs, either).

                                                                                I am waiting for some friends to bring me arequipe (dulce de leche) and obleas from Colombia in about a week.

                                                                                1. The usual suspects like cookies candies etc. are assumed. Before the liquid can, my partner and I routinely carried 6 bottles of wine back from every trip. We may now have to invest in one of those suitcases meant for wine in checked luggage.

                                                                                  Some of my more interesting carry on items: Homemade Kimchi and other Korean specialty items like salted plloack roe(makes you very unpopular!) Vinarterta (Icelandic prune torte that is very popular in Winnipeg, but no where else! What a shame) Jeanne's cake (every Winnipegger wil understand this) pizza bagels from Gunn's bakery, smoked arctic Char.

                                                                                  Our most impressive load occurred when we were moving back from North Carolina. I didn't want to pack food in the moving truck because of the heat (Moving in July). This lead to many food adventures, including how to transport the contents of our wine fridge back to Canada (Husband, I-95, houseplants and 150 bottles of wine...) When we cleaned out our pantry, I realized I had a bunch of half-finished products that I couldn;t bear to throw away. So they came in our carryon (prior to liquid ban). There were 29 different bottles/jars, and they included things like aged balsalmic vinegar (20 years! How could I just toss it?) very expensive olive oil, scuppernong jam (can't get that just anywhere!) Watermelon rind pickle, chow-chow, BBQ sauces, corn relish, you get the drift. Oh and how could I forget the 500 individually wrapped chocolate mints (did I mention that I am crazy? Yet another odd story)? And the sweet potato pies from the lady at the market. If the had opened our bags at security they would have locked us away. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. But perhaps I say that only because we didn't have to go through the embarrassment of being caught...

                                                                                  1. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar, in happier, less panicky times. Now I have to seal them in a million plastic bags in my checked luggage and pray to avoid leakage. Kilos of chocolate for everyone I know whenever I go to Europe. And most recently two dozen frozen kolaches, a Texas favorite I can't get in DC.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: mordacity

                                                                                      When we went to Tunisia last year our local host gave us a parting gift of Olive Oil...very nice olive oil in very nice large bottles. There were five of us in our party, and we each got a bottle. Of course it couldn't go in the carryon...so we wrapped it very carefully and I worried about it all the way to Paris. We had a week's lay over in Paris, just because, and one of the bottles we opened and enjoyed in our rented apartment there (leaving the open and half-finished bottle for the landlord...)...the other bottles made it in the checked luggage to SF, no problem. But I did worry about them....

                                                                                      Once I went to India (long before 9/11) with family, and my BIL asked me to take a carryon for him, as he had too many. I never looked or thought to ask what was in it; I just knew it was heavy. So of course customs in India asked.....I thought I had heard something sloshing in bottles in there, and I knew my BIL had a newborn, and I had a little one too, so I quickly said "Baby Formula!" It was strictly a guess. But a good one; baby formula was exactly what they found when they opened the bag......

                                                                                      My mother once brought home a whole hickory-smoked turkey from her favorite Houston BarBQue place when we went back there to defend her thesis a few months after we had moved out west. Everyone in the plane was trying to figure out where the smell was coming from.....

                                                                                    2. I was very lucky in transporting 15 bottles of wine from Italy and bottles of OV...they even gave me a wink in covering duty fees...worth it for the pain of lugging this soly thru Campri to Rome to Toronto!

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: burlgurl

                                                                                        Chinois Chicken Salad LAX-MIA.
                                                                                        Latin American Cuban Sandwich Especial MIA-LAX
                                                                                        Geno's Pizza ORD-MIA
                                                                                        Carnegie Deli Pastrami on Rye JFK-MIA
                                                                                        Joe's Stone Crab Claws MIA-LAX
                                                                                        East L.A.Salsa Cruda LAX-MIA

                                                                                        Of course all of this was pre 9/11. I really have avoided air travel since then. Not so much cause of threat, more so because of cattle mentality now prevelant in the airline industry and cause I'm also just tired of frakin flying.

                                                                                      2. I bring at least a couple dozen bagels back every time I visit Montreal. They travel in my carry-on because I don't trust the baggage handlers to be gentle enough with the precious tori. Perhaps my most delicate mission was carrying around two packs of Chocolate Sables from Balthazar in New York for four weeks. They traveled with me by train from New York to Syracuse, then by car to Clayton NY in the Thousand Islands, Massena NY on the St. Lawrence and Cornwall, ONT, then by train to Montreal and finally by plane to San Francisco I delivered them in good order to the person who craved them, packed snugly in a Gas-X box, which happened to be a perfect fit.

                                                                                        1. Carne Adovada burritos from the Frontier in Abq and tea cookies from Riley's Bakery in Bowling Green, Ky. Without fail. Back in the good ol'days I would bring vinegar, wine, cheese, and oils from Italy.

                                                                                          1. I am so surprised that no one has mentioned bringing back a muffaletta from New Orleans! That, Roast Beef Po Boys, and many other things!
                                                                                            Tamales, cheese, cookies, sauces from Costa Rica.
                                                                                            Long list of other stuff!

                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Isabella

                                                                                              Not a muffaletta, but an oyster po-boy and beignets back to Florida! And another time: a soft-shell crab po-boy from the now defunct Uglesich's. I still dream about that soft shell crab....

                                                                                                1. re: moh

                                                                                                  I ate there once on a visit to New Orleans and loved it. Saw him on Emeril once promoting his cookbook but have not seen it anywhere -- have you? Wonder if he'll ever reopen.

                                                                                                  1. re: walker

                                                                                                    You should be able to order the cookbook online.

                                                                                                    I really doubt if he'll reopen tho.

                                                                                                2. re: Isabella

                                                                                                  jfood has brough muffs from central grocers back to NJ a long time agi.

                                                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                                                    I brought back jars of olive salad from Central Grocers - though not in my carryon. Wrapped very carefully in my checked luggage.
                                                                                                    It was so sad to eat the last of it!

                                                                                                3. Vegemite....I got a little hooked after a month in Australia....love it!

                                                                                                  1. i spent years transporting dozens of H&H bagels from nyc to atlanta and l.a. no one ever gave me a second glance.

                                                                                                    thanks to numerous dietary/health restrictions i can rarely eat what's available at the airport or on the plane, so these days i always carry on string cheese, nuts, bags of dried fruit, celery sticks & carrots, containers of cottage cheese or yogurt, and sometimes homemade tossed salads or leftovers like grilled veggies with some sort of protein. however, there is one thing that never ceases to amaze me. for at least 7 or 8 years now, i've been traveling with a container of powdered stevia. it's the only sweetener i use besides agave nectar, and a lot easier to transport than a bottle of sticky liquid...and since i drink so much tea, i always have it on hand. never once has any airport security person or baggage screener questioned my vial of white powder. it's just so bizarre. they've made me unpack bags before because of a measly pair of tweezers, but no one cares about the stuff that, based on appearance, could very well be cocaine or anthrax powder.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                      Do they let you take yogurt through > TSA in miami made me throw away my yogurt saying it was not allowed. i had to throw an icecream cone that i bought at the icecream place across from TSA at san diego airport. i wanted to bring back some goat cheese from a farmer's market in waimea but did not dare. takes me back to pre 9/11 days when i brought back beluga caviar from dubai.

                                                                                                    2. I recently carried fifteen pounds of shrimp with me in a cooler bag...the X-ray guy asked if he could have some, so I pulled out a half-pound bag and gave him one!

                                                                                                      1. I'm notorious for this among my circle of friends and glad to hear I'm not alone. I have been caught with whole pizzas, tons of Chinese food, prepared masalas, frozen Italian beef kits, entire turkey dinners and entire turkey carcasses. Interstate travel is really just an excuse for me to bring food from one home to another.

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: JungMann

                                                                                                          On a recent trip to Chicago, I was stopped by TSA to have my carry-ons searched. The agents eyes widened as he discovered 2 lbs. of frozen Italian beef, 1 lb. of frozen Vienna Beef hot dogs and 4 lbs. of Gino's East pizzas. "So I guess you like deep dish pizza, huh?"

                                                                                                          As an aside, the new check-in luggage fees are killing me b/c frozen foods I could once store in the cold underbelly of the plane now have to come onboard with me and with the ever-increasing delays and cancellations I am encountering (4 hours sitting in the sun before cancellation on the last trip), it's a wonder that I can bring anything home at all.

                                                                                                          1. re: JungMann

                                                                                                            "As an aside, the new check-in luggage fees are killing me b/c frozen foods I could once store in the cold underbelly of the plane now have to come onboard with me and with the ever-increasing delays and cancellations I am encountering (4 hours sitting in the sun before cancellation on the last trip), it's a wonder that I can bring anything home at all."

                                                                                                            This is indeed a big problem. My biggest issue is transporting my mother's bulgogi and kalbi, which she freezes into nice little packages to serve 2-4 people at one time. We now pack a separate cooler with our food, put in some freezer packs, and try to avoid traveling in the summer. If you get delayed in Winnipeg in the dead of winter, it's usually just fine... Of course, there is the issue of being in Winnipeg in January.

                                                                                                        2. Ha ha-- I like this thread!

                                                                                                          I recently schlepped back a bunch of Russ & daughters bagels from NYC. But my mom is to blame for the bigger food items. She made me bring her back a bobka and a frikkin HOT DOG from a street vender. I cant imagine it tasted very good after a 5 hour flight! She made my sister fly from NYC to SF with a slice of Brooklyn pizza.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: burritobelle

                                                                                                            One question... on that hot dog: mustard and onions, or mustard and kraut?

                                                                                                          2. Ha ha! Onions, mustard AND kraut. It was a stinky-ass carry-on!

                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: burritobelle

                                                                                                              LOL Like a big ole Sabrett cart flying through the sky!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Luckily, I wasn't sitting next to you, or I'd have eaten that thing when you went to stretch your legs!

                                                                                                              1. re: burritobelle

                                                                                                                my sister once schlepped a couple dozen bagels from nyc back to college in madison, wi, and decided to stash the bag in the overhead compartment during the flight. unfortunately, there were some onion and "everything" bagels in there, and when the plane landed and everyone went to retrieve their belongings, a man in the next row started flipping out and threw a total fit because he had stored his cashmere coat in the same bin, and it reeked from the onion & garlic. sis was too embarrassed [and scared of the guy] to claim her bagels, so she got off the plane without them, waited until the other passengers had cleared out, and then went back onto the plane to retrieve the bag.

                                                                                                                it's been a running joke in our family for years that the only bagels now allowed for transport are plain, sesame & poppy.

                                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                  This is the deal with the everything bagels. No matter what you do to attempt to prevent it, the aroma of the garlic and the onions can't really be contained. As indicated in an earlier post, I transport dozens of bagels to family in Texas on a regular basis. In anticipation of my cousin freezing them, I package them by the half-dozen in freezer-thickness zip-lock bags. Despite the bags being sealed, whenever I open the baggage in which the bagels are contained, you know what's inside. And the cashmere coat, too bad. If the guy could afford cashmere, he could afford a dry cleaner. What if he were in a smoky bar or restaurant? Personally, I'd rather smell like bagels than an ash tray!

                                                                                                              2. Since I have been to Europe at least once a year in the last 23 years I brought a lot of wierd stuff over time. After 9/11 I am more careful, and stick to china rather than food items (but these are still in my suitcase). But the most memorable must be a box of chicken and biscuits I got at Knottsberry Farm in LA (now, that was 20 years ago or so, but I still remember)

                                                                                                                1. My son-in-law packed a huge frozen wild salmon in his suitcase and flew from Vancouver to Ottawa with the plan of giving it to us for Christmas. Yup, they lost his luggage. Fortunately, when it was found, the salmon was still cold so he brought it over and we cooked it on the spot. Delicious!

                                                                                                                  1. Pierogi and kielbasa from various Polish delis in Chicago to San Francisco. Once I lined an entire rollaboard with styrofoam and fit about 15 dozen pierogi in there... kept us very happy for a couple months!

                                                                                                                    1. Salmon and various sausages from Pike's Place Market have made the Seattle -> Phoenix trek a few times, but my absolute favorite carry-on item is cannolis from Mike's Pastry in Boston. The only problem is, the string on that white box isn't strong enough to keep me from digging in before making it home!

                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: azhotdish

                                                                                                                        I have heard the tales of Mikes Pastry but have yet to get there. Have you carried this on recently - given the TSA restrictions and the fact that I don't check luggage, I've wondered if they would have a problem with the cannolis

                                                                                                                        1. re: AlaskaChick

                                                                                                                          Interesting question, making me think of "Leave the gun, take the cannolis." Perhaps then you'll be ok.

                                                                                                                          I have not had problems with bakery danish, italian heroes or potato salad as recently as July, 2007, flying from LaGuardia to DFW. But friends of mine flying from Bogota, Colombia to JFK this month were told they had to either dispose of or eat the ariquipe (sorta caramel/dulce de leche) they were bringing back. For me. Sob.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Shayna Madel

                                                                                                                            personally, i think it's a crapshoot. i've sailed through with really suspicious-looking stuff, yet they confiscated my mom's unopened dannon yogurt at LAX on her way to EWR.

                                                                                                                          2. re: AlaskaChick

                                                                                                                            Last time was about two yrs ago, and at the time they didn't take issue with them. Not too sure if anything has changed...

                                                                                                                        2. I was in Portugal, in a villa that turned me into a clean freak as any speck of food would attract an army of ants, and I oh so freakin' foolishly tossed some chouriço into my suitcase while packing a few hours before departure.

                                                                                                                          You can probably guess what happened.. I've never seen so many ants in my life. And the chouriço never got home.

                                                                                                                          1. Whenever I travel, I try to get some local honey. It always returns in my carry-on (sealed inside a plastic bag), because I shudder to think about what a couple of pounds of honey would do if they broke inside a checked bag. At least there's not so much to get sticky in the carry-on. Thinking about it, though, I guess I'd rather have honey-soaked clothing than a honey-soaked iPod or camera.

                                                                                                                            1. Bottles of Mendocino Hot & Sweet Mustard. And yes, some have broken but I now double wrap in platic grocery bags just in case (this would also work for honey).

                                                                                                                              1. Airport Sandwiches: A couple of nights before leaving on a long trip (like Europe) have roast beef and mashed potatoes and gravy, make lots, and freeze enough for dinner your first night home (it will be so, so welcome). Then grind the rest of the meat coarsely in the Cuisinart, bind with ketchup, and flavor with salt and garlic powder. The night before you leave, make a couple of thick sandwiches apiece and refrigerate until morning. Then pack them with a small chemical ice pack between each two sandwiches. We have eaten Airport Sandwiches on planes, standing in lines, and waiting at gates. They smell like heaven too, with the garlic---a few times I thought we would be mugged for our sandwiches.

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                                                                                                                                1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                  Sounds great, but usually overseas can still be served ok on plane I thought? And I for one would like an empty stomach to indulge of native fare asap after clearing customs!

                                                                                                                                2. From Phlly - Philly cheesesteaks (for family, not me), TastyCakes, Philly Soft Pretzels (you aren't allowed off the plane visiting my family w/o them)
                                                                                                                                  From Israel - Kosher Wines, Bazooka Bubblegum, Elite Chocolates, Kinder Eggs, Dried Wild Rosemary Springs for Havdalah - for a scientist I should know better, but I couldn't resist a reminder of Shabbat in Jerusalem or my wanderings around the Old City walls before davening
                                                                                                                                  From the Carribean/Mexico - Tortuga Rum Cakes, Specialty Tequilas, Rums, Vanilla Extract, Xtabentun Vallisoletano

                                                                                                                                  All of this, no problem - but the open bottle of Sprite I had to toss in the trash. Good thing they didn't know I had forgotten to stow my pocket knife.

                                                                                                                                  1. Honeymooned in Paris and had a Duck dish on the last night that I couldn't finish but couldn't leave behind. Froze it in my hotel room that night and burried it in my checked luggage. The Beagle Briggade at JFK stopped me but I didn't give it up on a hunch that they wouldn't locate it. It worked - I heated it up that evening in my own kitchen and enjoyed it with a big glass of Bordeaux..... Never let them see you sweat!

                                                                                                                                    1. squid jerkey and parsimmon on a flight from Seoul to Detroit, got stopped. Jerkey made it, parsimmon took the fall.

                                                                                                                                      The best was carried on a burrito from taquarlia la bamba (arguably the best burrito in the bay area) and dim sum from chinatown on a flight from SFO to washington. One of the most enjoyable flights because the food was good. Yes I did share with the person sitting next to me.

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                                                                                                                                      1. re: Soup

                                                                                                                                        Ohh, an oyster poboy from Mothers on a flight from New Orleans to Wash.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Soup

                                                                                                                                          I got the ham and roastbeef w/debris (fully dressed) earlier this week to bring home. It didn't make it to the plane.

                                                                                                                                      2. Injera and tupperware containers of Eritrean food from my inlaws (injera travels well in the garment bag compartment of the suitcase). Also lots of Vietnamese leftovers from my wedding (I enjoyed every bit but was then violently ill for the first few days of my honeymoon).

                                                                                                                                        1. Usually only very breakable stuff in the carry on - luxemburgli most recently, and crispy manjus from Hawaii.

                                                                                                                                          All other food stuff goes into checked luggages - chocolates usually, and one time a bulk thing of still frozen portugese sausage from Hawaii, and dried porcini mushrooms.

                                                                                                                                          1. Few but they were interesting.
                                                                                                                                            Including fresh cheeses, sausages, a fully roasted goat, a few spirits, candies, cookies, tangerines/oranges, pomegranates, breads, ham....ok so maybe quite a bit(for personal use only) but it was over many years (and many years ago pre-9/11).

                                                                                                                                            1. i travelled x-mas time with a large purse full of deer meat for my dad, wouldn't fit in my carry on which was filled with all sorts of other things including chocolates.

                                                                                                                                              I travelled back with cod cheeks for friends. And two bags of shredded cheese i got on sale, hehe.

                                                                                                                                              1. I'm off to an 8oth bday party at the end of the month and really want to take along a homemade lemon meringue pie. The question is whether TSA would question that as carryon. Anyone have experience with carrying something like this?

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: AlaskaChick

                                                                                                                                                  You can take it, but TSA resulations require that at the inspection point you take the meringue off the top of the pie and take a big bite of the filling, to show the inspector that it's not actually plastic explosive. Plus you have to be able to fit the whole pie inside a one-quart ziplock plastic bag. Hardly seems worthwhile.

                                                                                                                                                2. I have family in Denmark and so a few years back I asked my cousin if there was anything I could bring her and she asked for Bagels and cream cheese. I stopped at the Bagel shop on my way to the airport and boarded the plane with 2 dozen garlic bagels and a pound of cream cheese. I put them in the overhead bin, and promptly fell asleep. The next morning when we landed I openend up the overhead bin to get the bagels and the smell of garlic was OVERWHELMING. it was all I could do not to laugh, as I heard people around me asking if they were smelling garlic.
                                                                                                                                                  My cousin was very happy....

                                                                                                                                                  1. I used to carry all sorts of seasonings and condiments on my carry-on before the fascist liquid restriction thing. Now I'm a bit nervous about checking that stuff in, given how they throw bags around and most of the foodstuffs I'd be interested in come in glass bottles. I do still bring home a lot of dried stuff from Japan whenever I go. Also, when I go to Japan, my parents like getting sun-dried tomatoes, almond butter, etc.

                                                                                                                                                    I bring food on the plane for eating-- crackers, olives, fruit, cheese, dark chocolate, tapenade, etc.

                                                                                                                                                    Oh, and recently, a friend of mine brought cranberry relish as carry on. It got flagged during the security check, but when the two security guards inspected it, they thought out loud "I would classify this as neither a liquid nor a gel" and let him board with it. I thought that was funny.

                                                                                                                                                    For the record, if you try to bring frozen water (which is a solid(!), not a liquid!!) on board and try to argue with the security guards that it is not a liquid, it does not work. I've tried. :) I find it obnoxious that the "liquid" ban includes frozen solids!

                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: anzu

                                                                                                                                                        TSA has announced that they plan to ease restrictions sometime in 2009 on carrying on liquids. Their equipment has gotten better. Solid food has never been a problem, just liquids.

                                                                                                                                                      2. I did a lot of chowhounding on my latest trip to the East Coast, and came back with a whole insulated bag that contained, among other things, chocolate in various forms and amounts, a jar of porcini mushroom cream (that I forgot to put in my checked bag and was lucky they didn't confiscate under the 3 ounce "liquidy stuff" rule), a tub of marinated vegetables, some cheese, some wild boar prosciutto and half an Italian roast pork sandwich (dinner for eight+ hours of travel with no meal service).

                                                                                                                                                        The quart of pickles (triple bagged) from the Pickle Guys and the jar of sorgham syrup went in my checked bag. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but when I unpacked I found one of those "The TSA has opened and inspected this bag" slips. I guess those pickles looked suspicious. LOL!

                                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                          Oh, those pickles! totally worth all the effort to get them home. Glad to hear the triple bag thing seemed to work.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: moh

                                                                                                                                                            Yeah, the triple bagging worked really well. Actually, the outer bag was completely dry when I unpacked, but that was probably because the lid stayed on the container (I made a hole in the center of my clothes and packed the container upright -- since it's a rolling satchel-type bag and is likely to be handled and stacked in that position, I thought that would minimize the possibility of it getting squished from the side and lid popping off).

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                              Brilliant plan Ruth! I shall definitely use this technique when I next have a chance to go to Manhattan. I am still dreaming about those pickles.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                Wanted to chime in with the bagging idea. When i buy liquids to bring home, usually olive oils, jams, honeys, i also buy souvenir totes. I look for cheap touristy stuff into which i pack my liquids wrapped securely in clothes. if its tightly packed and doesnt move around, usually comes home intact.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Kosher salami, hot odgs, chopped liver and corned beef from Romanian Kosher Sausage in Chicago and sausages form Jeff's Kosher Gourmet Sausage in LA -

                                                                                                                                                            1. Today, I carried a slab of ribs from Sonny's (my favorite chain resturant) from Orlando. I guessing that the gaurds thougth it was funny as it went through the xray.

                                                                                                                                                              1. Once at Santo Domingo airport I chatted with a Puerto Rican man who was carrying a dead goat in a suitcase as he headed home to San Juan. He explained that he loved to barbecue a goat but where he lived goats were much more expensive so when he was in the Dominican Republic he always brought home a goat. I saw the goat. It was an intact dead goat with its fur still on. I have carried home my share of Belgian chocolate, Dutch currant bread, English cheese, Spanish saffron, Argentine pan dulce, and Portugese port but I think the dead goat takes the prize for portable food.

                                                                                                                                                                1. I used to take Italian sausage back to Nowrway and Finland, because I missed it so. This past Feb, in Austin,. we bought a suitcase in a thrift shop, just to bring back high quality Mexican food fixin's, chilies, tomatoes and citrus back to icy Maine.

                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                    We packed Italian sausage and white hots from Rochester to Houston. Of course I modified the Italian sausage Texas style, chargrilled with onions and peppers on tortillas with hot sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Always 25 lbs. of Zabar's smoked fish and other delicacies from NYC back to Dallas, TX. I have a great food carrying bag, with dry ice, that keeps food cold for at least 8 hours.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. Five pounds of barbeque brisket from The Salt Lick outside of Austin,TX. I though the entire plane was going to mug me.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Last month I brought 3 loaves of Semifreddi's bread back from SF but security confiscated my unopened jar of mustard from the Oakville grocery. I still can't understand how a sealed jar of mustard is a security risk. It even had a paper seal from the manufacturer. So sad. But the bread was great.

                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jjdot

                                                                                                                                                                          If over 3 oz, doesn't matter whether "sealed." Otherwise we'd still be carrying on bottles of wine.

                                                                                                                                                                          When we come back from NYC, we bring bagels from Absolute Bagels and hunter sausages from DiPalo's.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. Thanksgiving 2006-6am Boarded the plane in Knoxville bound for Dulles. Insulated zipper carry all containing an13x9 pyrex dish of my incredible cornbread dressing(frozen). By the time I reached my DC destination, the dressing was thawed and ready to bake.

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                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LGD

                                                                                                                                                                            Moving to Vancouver from Montreal, I thought I was in the land of salmon. Guess not.
                                                                                                                                                                            I regularly carry back, LOX (smoked salmon-done the Jewish way, and much, much cheaper than in Vancouver), smoked meat from Schwartz ( again Jewish deli) and goodies from Premiere Moisson ( a french bakery)- no parallels to that even in the foodie rich Vancouver, unless challenge me!

                                                                                                                                                                          2. 20 pounds of fresh longans from Seattle to Richmond, VA. I worried about them the whole flight home.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. a giant fruitcake that my grandmother had made. my sister and i were young and travelling as unaccompanied minors. the customs man tried to throw it away, but we began crying and the cake was saved.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. A mixed selection of about thirty pounds of chili pepers, dried and ripe, ranging from ancho, chipotle, mulatto and on and on. This was on a flight from CA to VT where you can only get peppers in tiny 2 oz bags.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. We always bring huge chunks of Parmasan back from Italy, along with Lavazza coffee, salted packed capers, cantuccini, dried borlotti beans, dried porcini, the list goes on. Now we are forced to check any wine, vinegar, grappa, etc.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Just got back from Montreal and while going thru customs from Montreal to Chicago, the pulled my friend and I over and pulled out the massive amounts of food we had. Spices,
                                                                                                                                                                                  bagels, chocolates, flavoured sugars, teas, coffees, cookies, vanilla paste..... They asked what we were doing in Montreal, my friend replied we wanted to eat French Pastries without the jet lag, and I explained we had done the bakery and cafe crawl all over the city. They thought that was hilarious, then the guard attempted to stuff my vanilla paste in my tiny quart liquids bag and waved us thru!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Lots and lots and lots of plantain chips from Mexico. Also from Mexico, pre-packaged instant poblano chile rice for my little brother (who just moved out of our parents' house and mainly subsists on Mini Pizzas). Hollywood chewing gum from France. Happy Hippos from Italy. Boxes of baklava from Egypt and Morocco. Bulk loose spices from Morocco.

                                                                                                                                                                                    In fact, the only things I've ever checked have been alcohol. I have one last bottle of Licor 43 that I bought in Barcelona; it traveled with me from Barcelona to Torino, sat in my cupboard for two years, traveled back to British Columbia (Canada) with me, stayed there for two more years, and is now in my pantry here in Alberta (Canada). I've packaged up some sketchy absinthe in nice wine boxes and had friends run it back to Canada. I brought back some forty-euro Moscato d'Asti and found out, two thousand miles too late, that it was crap compared to the three-euro stuff I'd been buying at Di per Di. I brought back lots of tequila from Mexico as well, plus some mescal for gifts.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Food related: A t-shirt from the Fashion Cafe in London when I was eleven or twelve.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. A cheesecake from Zanze's from SF to LA, per my mother's request, who doesn't ordinarily like cheesecake.

                                                                                                                                                                                      She now also requests the potato chips from Boulange Bakeries in SF.

                                                                                                                                                                                      BBQ sauce from Missouri back home to SF. Blues brand and other.

                                                                                                                                                                                      My siblings have carried on In and Out Burgers from home, LA - when returning back to school in NY or Boulder.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh, how could I forget-- in my college days, crawfish and crab, and oysters from New Orleans, back to LA, per mom and grandmother's request.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Live lobsters. A clawing experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. My husband loved the sardines from Sainsbury's in London so I brought a lot back and that is the only time I have ever had a food item come open in luggage---they must have put an elephant on top of that suitcase because pressure pressed and the sardines came open. Sardine oil. All. Over. Everything.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Coming back from Europe as a teenager under the US drinking age, I brought back for my grandmother a red wine glass made in venice (used half of my spending money on that glass lol, red glass with gold pattern. It was for grandma so I got the fanciest schmanciest one I could), and an unpasteurized red wine from Dijon. There was only a minor language barrier, but I think I communicated that I wanted a red wine for my grandmother, who's french grandfather was a fisherman and made his own wine, and regularly sent her to school with watered down wine. I didn't know a darn thing about wine, so I just told the very nice couple my story and asked if they could pick out a good wine for me. I also brought back some chocolate truffles from farther on down the amazingly cute, straight-from-a-storybook cobblestone road. The language barrier there was worse, as nobody there spoke a WORD of english, and all I could say was please and thanks. But there was lots of giggling and kindly smiles exchanged as I tried to pick out truffles. On that same trip, I also brought back some swiss chocolate, and cheese from Holland, and some form of salami-like meat (language barrier again, all I knew was that it smelled sooooooo good. No idea what was in it though).

                                                                                                                                                                                            I was so afraid that my wine would get taken away as I was underage by a few years, but my bag either didn't get checked, or they just didn't care.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I’m hoping to fly from Chicago to Boston with a Gino’s East frozen pizza – just cheese. However, there IS the sauce I have to worry about. But it’s frozen. I really don’t know if it’ll make it through security. Anyone tried to take a frozen pizza as a carry on?

                                                                                                                                                                                              I can’t believe how weird that sounds…

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I have brought back all kinds of things and never had a problem. Dates, spirits, cheese, sausages, hams...

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Pretty much all manner of cheeses, liquors in checked bags, and sausage from the Czech Republic.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    The trick is to go through Newark. They didn't even seem to notice that I was carrying a dog one time years ago.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Domestically and pre 9/11 I often carried beers on. Just certain craft brews from different place to give to friends.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. On visits to Australia or England I would regularly bring back a large holdall full of Brit soulfood - marmite or vegemite (a cab driver at OHare destroyed a large jar of vegemite when he chucked my bag into the trunk against my wishes), black pudding, cheese (even Stilton!), chocs, biscuits - you name it. Coming back from France I've brought back cassoulets, jars of mustard, bottles of wine, cognac and calvados. The calamity at OHare was my only accident.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Almost anything I fancy even if it's a big risk. I'm so lucky to be able to bring back all kinds of food from within the EU. Pre 9/11 always beer and wine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Back from Spain 2 weeks ago and brought in my hand baggage 2kg of tomatoes (Kumato and Raf), lots and lots of tinned seafood, (blood) sausages, jamon. Paprika powder, empanadas, some bread, pressed salted roe and tuna. The last 2 cannot be found under my rock. Customs didn't care about the foods, they confiscated my simple corkscrew which was a lot more important to them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bring back pretty much the same things from Portugal, plus cooked perceves (barnacles).

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Every time I'm passing through Narita (Tokyo), I get a couple of bottles of tea and a couple of local Kit Kats.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Though, the last item I recall buying at an airport was either Albert Heijn nutmeg (in Amsterdam) or kue lapis (in Singapore). What's great about those last two items is that they both hail from the same place- Indonesia.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I once brought thirty pounds of currant bread in a shopping bag from Amsterdam to Washington DC. No problem. Froze it and enjoyed it with breakfast coffee for weeks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. foie gras. rillettes, 2 cases of wine and assorted small delicacies from Cahors. We had to buy another suitcase to fit everything in.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Brought a salami from Venice to USA, although it was not, I think, properly allowed.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Sourdough starter. (Moving countries.) It dies after going through three or four xrays. :( It was an excellent starter. Luckily, the next one I started was just as good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chilli powder, cinnamon (the real stuff, not cassia), Maldive fish flakes, and other seasonings from Sri Lanka. All the good stuff. :D Dates. Lots and lots of dates.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My mother in law: beef, beef innards, chicken gizzards, all cooked & curried, when she comes to visit us. She puts them in zip loc bags inside zip loc bags and leaves her place with them all frozen. When they arrive, they're somewhere between frozen and still very cold. Mangoes and other fruit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh! I forgot about the time I visit my sister up in the North West Territories where she and her family lived and where food is all so very very expensive. I lived in the Okanagan Valley at the time, which is British Columbia's fruit belt. I packed a carryon bag and a foam cooler with fruit, lots and lots and lots of fruit (and the cooler had ice) to bring on the flight with me. Apparently, it's pretty common for people to do that, although it's more usual for it to be coolers full of meat going up, fish coming down, plus huge tool boxes for big burly men, and such. I must have brought along, oh, fifty or sixty pounds of fruit. Peaches, nectarines, pears, cherries, all sorts of berries, and really, I don't even remember any more. My sister and her family were in heaven and I was forever after that known as The Fruit Lady. Because of course they shared the fruit with their friends. :D

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Sourdough starter. (Moving countries.) It dies after going through three or four xrays. :( It was an excellent starter. Luckily, the next one I started was just as good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Chilli powder, cinnamon (the real stuff, not cassia), Maldive fish flakes, and other seasonings from Sri Lanka. All the good stuff. :D

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My mother in law: beef, beef innards, chicken gizzards, all cooked & curried, when she comes to visit us. She puts them in zip loc bags inside zip loc bags and leaves her place with them all frozen. When they arrive, they're somewhere between frozen and still very cold.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. A big ristra of fresh chilies purchased in Santa Fe. I could smell them all the way back to D.C. Another time I brought back a whole muffaletta from Central Grocery in New Orleans. Then there was the canned cassoulet from the South of France.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Pre 9/11, a large (> 1 quart) glass jar of duck confit from Boulettes Larder at the Ferry Plaza market,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            More recently, top split hot dog buns from Maine.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I always have cashews and chocolate for inflight snacking.