April 22, 2014

typical basque stripe bag

Last week, the New York Times published this story about packing for 10 days in a carry-on bag. It’s impressive. When I read it, I was, at that very moment, cramming Every Single Thing in France into my suitcase. I had long since given up any thoughts of staying below the 50 pound limit and was only worrying about getting everything to fit.

tins of fishiesI thought about it before I left DC. I knew I would shop. In fact, there were a couple of items already on my list, and I was open to so much more.

tuna with capers

So, really, I should have known better. Bringing a wee little bag with me was short sighted. I needed a duffle bag. Or more.

prunes and liqueur and honeyHello, my name is Cathy and I’m a culinary shopaholic. When I travel to other countries. I wander through indoor and outdoor markets and every epicerie, charcuterie and pretty little shop for condiments and mustards, honeys and liqueurs and dried fruits.

bean to barI’ve carried dozens of bottle and cans and jars of olive oils and vinegars home with me.

pimente d espeletteI packed for my trip to Gascony & the Basque region with all this in mind. I was carrying several gifts for Kate (jars of goodies, of course, and some garden items and a few other things) that I felt sure would offset whatever I might collect to bring home.

curing saltNo such luck. Naturally, I did buy another tote bag (not another suitcase, though I considered it). With some clever packing and sheer determination, when I checked in at the Bordeaux airport, the very nice agent waved my checked bag through at just a bit over the 50 pound limit (23.6 Kg) and I boarded the plane with two very full tote bags.

chestnut and violette liqueursIt was worth it, don’t you think?


baba rhum with armagnac

14 Responses to “treasure hunting in gascony and basquelandia”

  1. Jill Lucas

    Glad to see everything made it home intact! I also view culinary shopping as an essential part of travel.

  2. Janis

    I think you showed great restraint. I would throw out all my clothes and just buy stuff to bring home :–)

  3. Maurine Fischel

    Cathy, it looks like your time in Basquelandia was wonderful! I came home with many of the same items after my Salt Circle trip with Kate in September- plus bags and bags of beans : Tarbais for cassoulet, cocos blanc, haricots rouges, and more! I’ve used the Salies-de-Béarn for all my pancetta and bacon since my return, and just one bar of the chocolat from Laia remains. My solution to the extra baggage needed for the return trip? I borrowed a suitcase from expat friends in St-Jean- de -Duras which they collected from me in December which they filled with their Christmas booty.

    • Cathy

      Maureen – I spent a sleepless night trying to decide whether to buy a big suitcase and go running around picking up all the things I had strolled past.

      I would have brought home an entire Bayonne ham if they sold them for export. I’m going through ham withdrawal.

      • Maurine Fischel

        Yes, with you on the ham. It was up for discussion but could figure a way to get through customs.

  4. Dorette Snover

    How lovely! So curious about the liquers from Lectoure! Is the chestnut one traditional? Made from the blossoms? Are there lots of chestnut trees there?


    • Cathy

      Dorette, I haven’t opened the chestnut liqueur yet. I can’t wait to play with it, especially with pears, don’t you think? And with pork.

  5. Gail

    Everyone is missing the point here. The REAL key to lugging all this stuff home is traveling solo. When the spouse stays home, so do the eye rolls, the ‘tsk tsk tsking’, and all the other buzzkilling remarks.

  6. Jayne

    I too am a culinary shopperholic! Markets and supermarkets abroad are the best thing ever! Love your stash!

  7. Wendy

    Yes, it definitely looks like it was worth it! I’ve even got my daughter trained. From her last trip she brought me spices and halvah! Those liquors are beautiful!!



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