I love going on holiday! I mean who doesn’t. But I tell you what I like even more… it’s the souvenirs! Ooh yeah, gotta love those things you bring back from holiday.
I’m not one of these idiots who just buys a little figurine of a mouse saying Welcome to Amsterdam. That’s just a ridiculous souvenir, who would use that? Unless the mouse serves as a joint holder, why is that even a thing in Amsterdam?
No, my souvenir of choice is food. I love it. I stuff my jacket pockets full of weird and wonderful, special foodstuffs and then hope and pray that I can get them through customs. I get strange looks from the security staff, when I walk through with a German sausage behind each ear and a spice shaker up my nose, but I don’t care as long as they let me pass.
Any food will do. If the country is famous for reeking canned herrings which could kill your grandmother with a single whiff, I’ll buy that. After all, where else on earth are you going to get it!?
My cupboards are stacked with cans, spices and liquids from all around the world. It’s like an old-style apothecary with salad dressings!
My partner comes into the kitchen and says “Do we have anything to eat?” I say, “No, but look at all these pretty mementos we have… Don’t touch them!”
I tell you the best thing about picking up food souvenirs… the promise!
The promise that I’ll make interesting dishes with spectacular and unique flavours. The promise that we’ll taste something which will remind us of our holiday. The promise that our three weeks in the sun weren’t a terrible mistake.
Of course, I haven’t used any of the foods yet. They’re for a special occasion. I have spices from Australia which have been sitting there for almost 5 years now. One day… I’ll use them. But, only when a very special occasion comes up. Like when Australia invades Wales with toothpicks. After all, I can’t get these foods easily can I? So I need to be sparing.
We bought some pate when we went to Canada a year ago. Really unique pate made from wild boar and Canadian deer. No, you can’t get that here in Scotland can you? Pork and venison pate? No pigs or deer here. Well, we’re not just going to eat it, are we!? That would be madness. It has to stay in the cupboard until that one special day. I don’t know when that will be. Maybe we’ll eat all of this food together. We’ll have some big party and we can give everyone one little thimbleful of pate and say “that travelled all around the world you know.”
Sure, I know, most food travels round the world before it gets here these days. But there’s something special about carrying it yourself. Food tastes better when it’s sweated in your pocket for hours on a warm flight, and not in the pocket of some professional pate smuggler from Peru on three dollars a day.
I don’t buy food from supermarkets at all these days. Not unless it’s special. When I need to restock my fridge, I just book a trip to darkest Africa and stuff my pockets with polenta. I just love the sort of food you think “this is for a special occasion. I’ll keep it until I’m feeling swanky.” But I never actually eat it. I just add it to the cupboards of festering special foods in my kitchen. For that special day when I might try them, and find out they’re actually disgusting.