WAILUKU, Maui — Day 1 of my Maui interlude, I bought two large jars of pickles. Glass jars. Full of liquid. One of them contains beets, guaranteed to stain every darn thing in my suitcase if it cracks open. Today, as I ready to head home, I’m staring at the jars now wondering what I was thinking. And wishing I’d packed, and shopped, more wisely.
Herewith, my guidelines for food travelers:
Pack proactively: A goodly length of bubble wrap, strapping tape, oversize zippered plastic bags. All these help when it comes time to pack purchases, and you save money by not having to buy entire rolls of wrap and tape or boxes of Ziplocks. Also, pack a shopping tote. On Maui, where plastic bags are verboten even at places like Ross or Walgreen’s, you’ll need a carrier. And you can make the tote into a carry-on adjunct when you leave. For leak-proof packing, hotel dry cleaning bags can be pressed into service in a pinch.
Shop with packing mind: Those pickles; bad idea. Even worse that they’ve been opened, so I could taste-test them. I’ll probably repack the contents in airtight plastic containers zipped into plastic bags. And worry anyway. Size is an issue, too. Italy, when I traveled there, was kitchen equipment heaven but I had to stop myself; babysitting a heavy, fragile set of mixing bowls for thousands of miles would not have been fun. On this trip, Mom is giving me an expensive tea kettle she never uses; mine is on its last legs. I’ll probably have to put half my clothes in my carry-on to fit it in.
Ship it: Often, touristy locations offer to pack and ship for a reasonable rate. A friend gave me a bottle of Maui-made Meyer Lemon Limoncello Liqueur. Not only is it heavy, but I’m afraid it might break, even well-wrapped. I’m going to run to the pack-and-ship place this morning and have it sent home.
Be mindful of the dreaded TSA: A chef-friend was telling me his customers have had his cream pies snatched from their protesting fingers at the gate. If the food in question isn’t solid, if it can possibly be classified as a paste or cream (cheese falls into this category), pack it in your check-in luggage or skip it.
Gotta go; gotta figure out how to keep the dried ‘ahi from smelling up my luggage, the coconut candy from being crushed and the jar of lime pickle from breaking.
Next to last meal report: I returned to Bistro Casanova in Kahului to meet a friend and did my usual: fell in love with a side, this time the salt-dusted herbed focaccia with herb ed and whipped butter. I could easily have eaten a basketful. But then I wouldn’t have had room for another simple pleasure: angel hair pasta with tomatoes, greens, a drizzle of butter, a dusting of cheese. I could do this at home. Why does it taste so much better when someone else serves it to me?