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LNorman Oct 23, 2000 05:34 PM

Hi, Just back from several days in Montreal. The food was great. My boyfriend like Ben's smoked meat sandwich, I loved this restaurant (can't remember name right now) in Old Montreal where I had grilled salmon, saffron risotto, and chinese sauteed vegetables. Dim sum in Chinatown was great, Moishe's for steak was unbelieveable.

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    Kat Kinsman Oct 24, 2000 12:03 AM

    I too just returned from Montreal (my first visit ever), and bless each and every one of you who mentioned that newcomers ought to try smoked meat. Schwartz's was a nigh on religious experience, and a mustard slathered sandwich of the extra fatty smoked meat was enough to convince me to purchase 2 pounds to bring back to New York City so that my friends and loved ones could taste and KNOW as I now do.

    The helpful gentlemen at Schwartz's assured me that it would be perfectly legal to do such a thing, and who was I to question the collective centuries of knowledge possessed by my servers? However, when I got to US customs, the form seemed to explicitly forbid the personal importation of meats into the country. There was a minute or two of contemplation...pen wavering, conscience flickering...and then a very swift X-ing of the NO box and reshuffling of clothing in bag to as to further secret the sacred parcel. I'm certain that all of my travel clothes are meat scented, but then again, I'm the kind of girl who stood at the Demeter counter for about 20 minutes deciding whether to buy the cake cologne or the bacon one, so I didn't mind. Tense moment at the part where I had to walk past the sniffing dogs, but then absconded safely with my package.

    My question--how punishable an offense is the unauthorized importation of such a small quantity of meat? Is it actually illegal at all, or am I just fooling myself that I'm a smooth deli criminal?

    If it was indeed wrong, at least cosmic retribution has already been levied. In the LaGuardia Airport ladies room, I accidentally smashed the bottle of ice wine I'd bought for my boyfriend at the duty free shop. Alas.

    Kat

    6 Replies
    1. re: Kat Kinsman
      b
      Bob W. Oct 24, 2000 10:15 AM

      My only question is how did you get past those sniffer dogs? Seems like the quality of the Green Jacket Brigade has fallen to levels that some ascribe to our two-legged defenders.

      I realize that these beagles are trained mainly to detect contraband produce, but letting some extra fat smoked meat get past should be automatic grounds for retirement.

      1. re: Bob W.
        m
        Mr. W. Oct 24, 2000 11:26 AM

        I passed by the agricultural Beagel last winter coming back from St. Barts, with some of their lovely limes tucked into my backpack.

        The dog seemed very interested in a gentleman who was carrying 5 boxes of Cuban Cigars, and not my lowly limes.

        Does this answer your question?

        1. re: Mr. W.
          b
          Bob W. Oct 24, 2000 11:48 AM

          It sure does! It tells me that the Beagle Brigade is no longer doing its job, since lowly yet lovely limes could certainly do more damage than some cigars.

          Having said that, as a lime lover I would love to check out a St. Bart's lime, preferably on St. Bart's.

          1. re: Bob W.
            h
            Helen Oct 24, 2000 04:01 PM

            Re: the extra-fatty - My best guess is that when it comes to meat smuggling, the USDA is mostly after the uncooked stuff, and pork products in all forms. (Though I think they have relaxed somwhat their restrictions against the latter.) Even if the doggie had hit on your Schwartz's contraband, I think you probably could have kept it.

            As to the penalties, the last time I have a chance to observe (>10 yrs ago) confiscation was pretty much it for small-timers like yourself.

            PS those green-vested dogs work for USDA, not Customs; I don't buy the Havana cigar theory.

            1. re: Helen
              c
              Christine Oct 27, 2000 03:38 PM

              I was "sniffed" in the baggage claim area by a beagle on my way back from France, with a few pounds of unpasteurized raw milk cheese in my bag. However, the beagle luckily became infinitely more interested in the carry-on of another passenger whom I happened to bump into and my cheese was saved (and greatly enjoyed!).

      2. re: Kat Kinsman
        m
        Melanie Wong Oct 25, 2000 03:29 AM

        Cooked meat is not a problem in most cases. The time I carried back smoked meat from Montreal I called US Customs ahead of time to check. They said no problem. No need to feel guilty!

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