My Treasured Travel Souvenirs

collage-of-mementos.jpgThis morning, while emptying the dishwasher, I took an appreciative look at one of my treasures – my Iowa State Fair 2006 pancake syrup pitcher (#7 in the photo). Love that little thing. It works well, and started me thinking… to me, there are only two kinds of travel souvenirs worth buying. Stuff to wear, and stuff for my kitchen. Do YOU collect foodie things from your travels?

Two such kitchen items in the photo, Larry bought. The #2 fish serving platter from Barbados is large, heavy, fragile; he carried that home with tenderness. Whenever we have a potluck and someone needs a platter, they always oooh over this. I’d certainly recommend Barbados as a destination.

Larry’s collection of African animal napkin rings, #4, is from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. We had seen each of those animals by that point, and clearly needed napkin rings to remind us – rhino (OK, we saw the rhino on a previous African trip), lion, giraffe, monkey, zebra, elephant, warthog, hippo. And we ate well on that trip, too.  PS – here is how to fold a napkin into an ostrich.

That hefty chunk of wood, #1, is my lovely cheese board from New Zealand. Purchased at a winery early in our trip, I then lugged it around that country for two weeks. It is rich with memories, including my bungee jump off the Hackettstown Bridge in Queenstown. If I didn’t make it back home after that jump, Larry wouldn’t appreciate the cheese board as much, I think.

Petite grater #3 is an India souvenir. Confession – it is made in France. BUT it reminds me of the adventure of India. Colorful, as is the country. Read about the food here.  And the adventure here.

The rice paddle #5 is from Miyajima. That village is home to one of the iconic images of Japan, once you click here, you will know what I mean.  But I didn’t want a shirt or a mug with that image, I wanted the little rice paddle. We also own a plastic one, which I use more often because it goes in the dishwasher. This one, I hand-wash.

Ebony salad bowl #6 was from our first Africa trip. Kenya. We had a two week safari, lots of roads traveled and our group was often set free into touristy crafts shops. This bowl kept calling me back, I must have spent an hour looking, negotiating, saying no. And once purchased, subsequently carrying it in my lap the rest of the trip because we were limited to only 26 lbs. of luggage in a single duffel. Worth it.

My eight teak spoons #8 were also from Victoria Falls. I had learned before our trip that Zimbabwe was a great place to barter with Nike shoes. I walked to the crafts area a few times, absolutely nothing I wanted, really, but I was determined to bargain. So, the morning we were to leave, I took a pair of Larry’s shoes and a pair of mine, looked and looked and LOOKED – then I spotted these spoons in the corner of one booth. Eight for me = one pair of shoes.  And a pile of little baskets for my sisters, the other pair.

And finally, the squid whisk #9 was a gift from the PR person at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I was a speaker at the International Association of Culinary Professionals conference in Chicago, my presentation was on Bootstrap Marketing. The PR gal attended my session, then immediately decided she needed a “tool” to market herself there, phoned her office to have them send her a supply overnight. She honored me with one. I use it constantly.

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1 Kelly April 22, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Fun. I have to admit I’ve pared back on the souvenirs I bring back. Lately, I love buying cookbooks of the regional cuisine of the places I visit. Whenever I miss the location I cook the food and find myself brought back.

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