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Does Polish sausage come home in your luggage? What foods do?

My mother used to pack Polish Sausage from Elizabeth, New Jersey in her suitcase when flying home from her annual visit to her mother's. There was nothing available in Columbus, Ohio, where we lived that compared with that sausage from NJ.

That was in the 60's, and my mother was a modern career woman, though the picture of a woman with sausage in her luggage brings up an entirely different image in our heads, doesn't it?

Now my 20 year old son, who flies up to Chicagoland every summer and winter to stay with his dad for a few weeks brings home sausages in HIS luggage from Lange's Meat Market in Michigan City, IN. We live in Georgia now, and don't get good smoked meats often. He brings a couple kinds of dry sticks of salami, some Polish, some jerky....

Last time he came home and opened the suitcase in the living room, and all those smells came wafting out, it reminded me of my mother's treats - I had totally forgotten about her tradition until that moment. It's nice that family traditions live on...

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  1. Fun post! I brought bratwurst home in my luggage when I flew home from Wisconsin. They were the beer, butter 'n onion variety from Miesfeld's and THEY ARE EXCELLENT!
    They wrapped 'em up (frozen) in newspaper for me and they didn't even thaw...this was back in September.

    I hadn't flown in a while and totally spaced on not being able to carry wine in your carry-on...so, luckily, I had gone the wrong way and not checked my bag yet. I used my computer case as a cushion and brought home two bottles of ale--one cherry, one raspberry--and am happy to report, they made it safely to Connecticut in my luggage...and the cherry was quite delish!

    I like your family tradition. :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: kattyeyes

      katty, there is something about the thought of beer, butter 'n onion brats that makes me want to order some RIGHT NOW. Thanks for the link!

      1. re: jmcarthur8

        My pleasure--hope you love them as much as I do! :)

    2. Maldive Fish from Sri Lanka.

      1. Powdered fish stock and powdered porcini mushroom stock from Italy.

        Purity Hard Bread biscuits from Newfoundland (for fish and brewis and if you have to ask you wouldn't like it anyway).

        The meat pies from downstairs at The Bay at Yonge and Queen in Toronto...same recipe as when they were Eaton's and simply unreproduceable (I know: I've been trying for 15 years)

        Cadbury Fruit and Nut chocolate bars from the UK-they just aren't the same anywhere else.

        1. Oh good grief! What DON'T I bring home??? Certainly two dozen bagels from NYC. Oh yeah, a couple of pounds of the "hunter" sausage from DiPalos along with some Umbrian lentils that I just love (I have now found these in SF). When in SF I've brought back sweetbreads, pork belly, duck fat, flying fish roe. Oops, almost forgot about the venison chorizo from DC. Oh, and the pig jowl rillettes (?sp). And, of course, cachaca from Brazil. Whether I travel near or far, I'm ALWAYS bringing home food :)

          1. If we went to Chicago, you're damn right I'd pack some Polish! As it is, our one mutual annual journey takes us to Tennessee and Kentucky every October, and smoked dry-cured pork products share return space with the socks and underwear. I've lightened up a bit lately, not for instance including Southern-specialty jams and jellies, and I no longer pack a loaf of Bread & Co's Pane Bello, since I've found a La Brea loaf that's nearly as good. No more White Lily flour, either, now that Smucker's has gone and screwed it up … I've also been ordering a lot of cured pig online, too, so now it comes in its own carry-on!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Will Owen

              Oh, WO, I forgot that we used to carry on Vidalia onions in season when we would visit Atlanta. But now, of course, we can get them everywhere (just not all the time). BTW, fixing your roast for a party Tuesday - two years now!

            2. I am under the impression that you are not to bring food into the US from another country. Is that true?

              7 Replies
              1. re: sueatmo

                That is not true. You can check the US govt. website for what's allowed and not.


                1. re: c oliver

                  Not allowed doesn't mean you can't do it.

                  1. re: RicRios

                    That's right but I don't. They're usually done to protect our agricultural economy from disease. I live in CA where we have "bug stations" when coming into the state. Trying to keep out things like "apple maggots."

                2. re: sueatmo

                  You can't bring fresh meat and produce, among other things, but cured and/or smoked sausage is ok. My father brought the sausage home ok but they took his fresh garlic (he wanted to plant it in his garden).

                  1. re: John E.

                    Cured meats generally aren't allowed according to the govt. website.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Yea, I guess you're right. The whole mad cow thing changed the rules.

                      1. re: John E.

                        Yep. Better to be safe than sorry. I miss being able to carry on liquids. Makes packing harder. I not only agree with the rules basically but I really, really do not want to get crossways with a customs agent. Really.

                3. when i lived in Atlanta, i *always* returned from family visits to NJ with a massive supply of bagels, as well as several boxes of things like Mallowmars & Devil Dogs for friends because they weren't available in ATL.

                  1. I don't think we've ever had any problems. you just need to pack them well and all is good.

                    We brought back Salmon and seafood back from Seattle. Along with several specialty beers and liquers, dried pasta, jellies and teas.

                    My husband travels around the world for work and he brings home lemoncello, olive oil and wines from italy.

                    I'm not sure about cheese though just because the US regulates non pasteurized items.

                    1. DH and I love road trips, so we always drive on the trips back home to Chicago and New York rather than fly. This year's trips, we brought back pierogi, cheeses and dried pasta from NY, and yellow lake perch, smoked meats, cheeses and pierogi from N. Indiana/Chicago. Oh, and I brought back half a dozen of the only brand of soup base that I ever use..Williams, West and Witt Chicken Soup Base and Beef Soup Base. That's from Michigan City, too.

                      It's fun to see all the stinky stuff that CHers pack!

                      1. I wrapped a prosciutto and a salame in clean t-shirts and ditched clothes in Italy in order to have room in my suit case... I don't know if you're supposed to bring home prosciutto and salami, so I just packed it in my suit case and had "nothing" to declare...

                        1. we always drive home from my in-laws' in albuquerque with a cooler full of frozen roasted new mexico green chile...sure, it might thaw a little by the time we get where we're going, but, hell, it's not pork.

                          there are family lore stories of the lengths to which people have gone to acquire goo goo clusters, tastykakes... as a chicagoan living in los angeles, i rather enjoy being able to order up a slew of genuine-article chicago-style hotdogs from lou malnati's online. oh, the magic of the interwebs!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: snowpants7

                            I froze the venison chorizo the night before we flew from DC home. Packed it in with some other frozen items. It was thawed when we got home but we live in a "magic house."

                          2. The Christmas trip is coming up, so that means I'll bring (from western NY back to Philly) Italian bread, placzek and chocolate covered biscotti from DiCamillo's in Niagara Falls, NY. Their pizza also comes back as our lunch on the road. Sometimes it's supper if we stop at Ted's for hot dogs for lunch.
                            Frozen local pierogi and locally made kilebasa goes in the cooler.
                            My dad's a very odd food traveler. He makes a great meatloaf. It's now known as the 400-Mile meatloaf, because it has traveled (with proper cooling) from Buffalo to Philly, Buffalo to Boston (a brother), and Buffalo to Corolla, NC. Once from Buffalo to Philly to Boston. When he drives, he has a cooler he plugs into the lighter outlet. When he flies, he's got a small cooler that he checks through.
                            His best haul (flying) from Buffalo to Corolla was a meatloaf, three duck breasts, frozen homemade saurkraut, and five veal chops. He likes to have the ingredients he likes. What can I say? He's highly entertaining.

                            1. When I use to make trips between NC and New Orleans to visit family, we usually have to pick up gio (Vietnamese pork loaf) and be thui (Vietnamese roast veal) the most. But when we have done car trips, we usually bring back about 50 pounds of crawfish at least and a couple king cakes if we are going near Mardi Gras.

                              Now my dad and his trips between the States and Vietnam is definitely something else. He is always bringing a lot of goodies here but I wouldn't know what some of them were called. But he usually brings back a lot of teas and dried plums and what not.

                              1. My father twice flew home from Ukraine with sausage in his suitcase. My grandmother flew home from visiting her village in Ukraine in 1970 with ten .5 liter bottles of homemade potato vodka (her brother made it). The customs agent was going to search her bag and she asked him what he thought a little old lady like her would smuggle. He said, "you're right, go ahead ma'am". The last time I flew they took away my toothpaste.

                                1. The title of this post reminds me of when I was pregnant with my 2nd child. We hadn't told anyone in the family yet, I was maybe 8 weeks along and the nausea was just starting to set in. We had to make a trip to Cleveland to celebrate my husband's grandmother's 80th birthday, which happened to take place 1 week before Easter. We live in a Polish sausage wasteland, and the 2 last remaining butcher shops in FIL's old Slavic Village neighborhood were all stocked up with kielbasa for the upcoming holiday. So, my darling husband got the idea to stock up on 10 lbs. of the stuff. Turns out, MIL decided to spend the remainder of the week leading up to the holiday with her mom (the one turning 80) and we had to take FIL home in our car. I graciously agreed to sit in the backseat so he'd have more leg room, not thinking about the odor that would be emanating from our luggage right behind me. Not only was it the worst 6 hours of my life, filled with continuous nausea but once back at home, the smell of the garlic wafted from our freezer at every opening. My daughter just turned 8, and I still like to bring it up once in a while. :)

                                  But, he just brought me a lovely cheese and some chocolates from Brussels . . . so I guess he can be forgiven. ;)

                                  1. I love traveling with food! Cured meats seem the travel the best, as I've delived pastrami and hot dogs from NY, CT and Chicago all over the world. A bit trickier, but I've also had success traveling with frozen dumplings from NY and deep dish pizza from Chicago.

                                    If you're not checking your luggage, it's nice to have a good arsenal of soft sided coolers.... depending on how vigilant TSA is, I have gotten ice packs through security. The back up plan is to carry empty zip loc bags and go to a food vendor past security and have them fill your zip loc bag with ice cubes to keep your food chilled.

                                    1. We do it all the time. Gaspar's or Amaral's Linguica and Chourico and Autocrat coffee syrup from RI, Moxie from most any New England stop, Ivivn's Spiced Wafers from the in-laws in PA, you name it. It wouldn't be a successful road trip if we didn't return with some of the local delicacies.

                                      1. on a recent trip back from taiwan with familty, more than 50% of it was food. Majority of the items were fish balls/cakes and lots and lots of bread. Generally what I have always done was bring coolers and freeze the fish balls and the bread and shove them in the coolers before you check them in. Everytime I have come back they have always stayed frozen.

                                        Only time i got my stuff taken was a wheel of Parm cheese on my way back from italy. Just a note in my suitcase that said, hey we took your cheese because you cant bring it in. I still suspect they took it because they wanted it for themselves.

                                        1. We just got back from Germany, and brought back a few meat items. Most were cured and shrink-wrapped, but we also had a couple of smoked sausages purchased at the Christmas markets that managed to get through customs. My BIL did, however, get caught by the produce-sniffing beagle coming back through US customs in DC -- he had taken a banana from the Red Carpet lounge in Frankfurt & put it in his back pack in case he got hungry on the flight. He never ate it, but that little beagle ratted him out. It was kind of humorous because BIL prides himself on being Mr. Traveler, and was mortified that he got caught unawares with a contraband fruit.