Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Traveling With Food

Not only is it fun to find new and delicious foods when traveling, but it's a blast to bring great foods with you. Many moons ago when I lived in Berkeley I was a regular Peet's Coffee customer. The store was in the Gourmet Ghetto near Chez Panisse and The Cheese Board, Cocolat and other noteworthy places to eat and purchase good food. At the time they didn't have any other outlets, nor any retail outside that one small store. You walked in the and coffee aroma was intense since there was always coffee brewing and it was usually strong. They had a huge brewing machine that turned in a circular motion, releasing hot water over the grounds. I still use that circular motion when I brew coffee using a Melita filter system, still my favorite way to brew coffee, although a French press also produces a fine cup. I loved that when you bought a pound of coffee (and bags of coffee always used to be a full pound), that you would be offered a full cup of brewed coffee on the house.

So what does this have to do with traveling? Well, every time I went back East to visit I would bring a pound of Peet's coffee. My siblings became very fond of Peet's, so sometimes I would bring extra so that it could be kept in a glass canning jar in the freezer for their visits home. At least once I sent some as a birthday gift to a sib, but that was much later when Peet's did mailing and other retail. Starbucks (which got a lot of technical help from Mr. Peet himself before they began as a business) got a jump on Peet's and was into the many outlets and the retail long before Peet's Coffee spread out to sales other than at the Vine Street original place which is pictured at the top. Now you can even find Peet's as K-cups.

Another West coast food that I often took back East was sourdough bread. It was so easy to find sourdough bread in Berkeley (Acme Bakery still has the best baguettes as far as I know) so a loaf would go into the carry on. One year the bread never made it to Virginia. I was flying during the winter with Max and our plane sat on the runway in Chicago for three or four hours, probably due to de-icing or something like that. Max was three or four and kept asking for a 'little piece' of the bread. By the time we took off there wasn't even a little piece left. Still, it kept him occupied during the long wait and he went right to sleep when we arrived at Mom's sometime after 10 pm. So glad that I remembered to buy sourdough for that trip!

The braided bread reminds me of a time when the family was visiting here. I sent them home with a braided sourdough loaf from my own sourdough starter. Even better than the commercial sourdough according to my Mom.

These days it is a whole different ball game with food on airplanes. For carry-on if it can be spread, is liquid, or is runny or squeezable it won't be allowed. Other food should be placed in a separate bin if you are taking it through security. Putting it in your checked luggage is still OK, but I would do a triple Ziploc for most things! You can still buy airport food once through security and take it on the plane, but who knows how long that will last?

One year my Mom had pneumonia and was hospitalized. I went back once she got out of the hospital to help care for her. Before I left (and this was in January but not the same trip as the sourdough one) I packed up a very large box with Costco size bags of spring mix, lots of fresh oranges and tangerines and lemons, and shipped it off overnight FedEx so that it was there when I arrived. It is super hard to find good quality spring mix lettuces in January on the East coast. The citrus is so plentiful here in January that it seemed like the best thing to do to include some of that, too. I enjoyed that produce while I was there, but my Mom was in heaven and I think it helped with the healing, too. Not exactly traveling with food, but close.

Do you have stories of traveling with food that are memorable? Wanna share?

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