July 6, 2006

 Navigation

   Home Page

 News & Features

   News

 Columns & Opinions

   Publisher's Note

   Boomers

   Pinings

   Longshots

   Techie

 Pop Culture

   Film

   TV

   Books
   Video Games
   CD Reviews

 Living

   Food

   Wine

   Beer
   Grazing Guide

 Music

   Articles

   Music Roundup

   Live Music/DJs

   MP3 & Podcasts

   Bandmates

 Arts

   Theater

   Art

 Find A Hippo

   Manchester

   Nashua

 Classifieds

   View Classified Ads

   Place a Classified Ad

 Advertising

   Advertising

   Rates

 Contact Us

   Hippo Staff

   How to Reach The Hippo

 Past Issues

   Browse by Cover


Are your edible souvenirs kosher?
Check state law before you pack the foie gras
By Susan Reilly  news@hippopress.com

Jeff Paige brought back spices he found in a 55-gallon drum found at an Italian market.

Woody Hambleton put the marzipan and chocolate in his suitcase, but sent the sausage by mail.

Steven Clutter carried back duffle bags filled with rare wine bottles wrapped in newspaper and pearly sugar.

Michael Dussault says he is law-abiding and hasn’t ever tucked any food items into his suitcase, but if he could, his wish list includes exotic fruits.

Travel is at its peak in the summer and if you are a foodie, before you leave the country you should know the rules about what you can and cannot bring back. Otherwise you may be able to keep the dried truffles but find yourself surrendering the salami to the customs agent.

It is important to familiarize yourself with the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) rules before you travel. An updated brochure is available at cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vacation/kbyg/.

The rules change fast due to outbreaks and new data, so it is best to know what is “enterable” before you find yourself standing in that quaint shop wondering if the new Camembert can come home with you.

While the CBP enforces the rules, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issues them. Many of the regulations are set in place to protect us from contagions like hand-foot and mouth disease and the avian flu. The DOA also is working hard to prevent pests like the Mediterranean fruit fly from making their way here.

“There is always so much that I want to bring home with me, but I just know that a lot of it is really off limits,” said Jeff Paige, chef/ owner of Cotton.

When Paige traveled to Italy, he carefully brought back olive oil and the market spices, and from Germany, chocolate. He tucked his finds in his suitcase and hoped for the best.

Fortunately for Paige, his items were not contraband. The basic rule of thumb for customs agents is that because there is such a large grey area, if they question it, they are supposed to take it.

Meats, even vacuum-packed, are a no. Few canned meats are allowed, depending on the country of origin, but canned poultry is never a good idea. Foie gras falls into the grey area and will likely be seized.

Produce can harbor all kinds of insects and disease, making it a red flag at the gate. While some fresh produce is admissible, you should check right before you travel.

Woody Hambleton, chef at The Barley House in Concord, had oranges he packed as a snack seized by the Mexican customs agents. They did not want fruit from the States in their country.

When returning to the U.S., he brought back saffron, Kahlua and tequila.

“All that stuff is real cheap there,” he said.

Hambleton lived in Germany for a number of years and on trips to the states he would pack marzipan and chocolate in his suitcase.

The questionable stuff, like jaegerwurst, schnitzel and canned soups, he sent discreetly by mail.

One time, he drove across the Canadian-U.S. border with a whole salmon on ice in the back seat of his car. When stopped, he was able to keep the fish because he had caught it sport fishing in Quebec.

“Some of these trips were a long time ago. I bet it is even more strict now,” Hambleton said.

Cheese is another big risk. Raw-milk cheeses may contain high pH, which harbors the bacteria that causes hand-foot and mouth disease.

“I would love to bring back a big, horrendous-smelling wheel of cheese from Montreal, but I don’t know if it would be allowed,” said Matt Provencher, chef at Surf in Nashua.

While you are allowed to bring cheese for personal consumption, be prepared for it to be seized at the customs agent’s discretion.

Bottled items, such as olive oil, vinegar, honey and mustard are free to enter the states. But rice, it depends on the country of origin. If it is boxed and sealed and from Italy, it is probably okay, but a bag from India will likely be seized as it could contain insects.

Likewise for greenery. Plants, such as herbs or clippings of grapevine are not allowed and even baskets that appear to be woven with fresh materials will likely be seized.

And remember, if you hide something in your suitcase, even if it is permitted, it is a crime. Hiding is demonstrating intent to break the law and could end you up with a hefty fine.

Steven Clutter, chef at the Hanover Street Chophouse once traveled back from Burgundy, France with two large duffle bags filled with wine. Wrapped in newspaper, it was tough to hide passing through JFK.

“I was walking, all weighed down by the wine and everyone noticing the clinking sound of the bottles,” he said.

Clutter declared all the wine and happily enjoyed it at home.

While many of the regulations are federal, it is also best to check the regulations of the state in which you will be reentering the US. For many New Hampshire travelers reentry happens at Logan Airport in Massachusetts.


Comments? Thoughts? Discuss this article and more at hippoflea.com  


06/29/2006 Fish, upscale
06/22/2006 Sweet rosey taste of summer
06/15/2006 When to pull out the EVOO
06/08/2006 What can you grill?
06/01/2006 Taste of downtown Nashua
05/25/2006 Deulge at farms
05/18/2006 Adorable and delicious
05/11/2006 Rub down
05/04/2006 Pinot to go
04/27/2006 A bit Italian, a bit egg foo young
04/20/2006 Meatier than breakfast...
04/13/2006 Let yourself eat cake
04/06/2006 Fear not the Risotto
03/30/2006 Making Friday a fishy delight
03/23/2006 The Thin Mints are here
03/16/2006 Divining your personality from pizza
03/09/2006 Cooking up a big bowl of comfort
03/02/2006 Dumplings demystified
02/23/2006 Carbs and comfort all the way
02/16/2006 She sells sushi by the sea shore
2/09/2006 Biting into the burger with bling
02/02/2006 Forget formal dining, head to the bar
01/26/2006 Goodbye rooster, hello year of the dog
01/19/2006 The secret lives of chefs
01/12/2006 Cooking up a pot of delayed gratification
01/05/2006 A sunny Italian side dish
A year of eats

All-you-can-read guide to breakfast
A bagel by any other l
abel
A picnic — it’s romance with ants
A sweet burst of summer, in stages
Beef, It's What's For Dinner, Lunch, And Dessert
Be it ever so humble, the burger rules
Blockbuster snacks for your movie
Box Of Chocolates
C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
Celebrate Easter In A Sugar Coma
Chat And Chew

Chinese soup is magic
Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
Empanadas
Enter Soup
Experiments With Very Bad Brownies
Feeding A Crowd The Morning After
Follow the cider house rules
Fresh Herbs
Go ahead — run silent, run deep
Goodbye corn syrup, hello organic oatmeal
Go Indian for Thanksgiving
Grilled Cheese Junkie

Halloween candy for grown-ups
Have a Happy Meal and a happier wallet
Holiday Cookies - The Easy Way
Holiday Potluck 101-Tips For The Kitchen Novice
Home-Based Date
How do you like them apples?
In-A-Pinch Love Feast
It's not easy to be cheesy
It’s not Christmas without tamales
Lest We Forget The Humble Squash
Keeping your cool while you eat
Living through your salad days

Looking Beyond The Hot Dog Stand
Lunching your way to a less toxic you
Meat's meat and a man's gotta eat

Moist and delicious chicken — no, really
Oatmeal Cookies, The Miracle Cure
Oscar Night, When The Stars Come Out To Eat

Offering Up A Slice Of Teriyaki Pie
Pot Pies Are Darn Tasty
Pumpkin-Flavored Treats
Small Plates Are The Next Big Thing
Speedy 'za not pie in the sky
Steak: it’s what’s for dinner, again
Summer coolers, just add sunlight
Summer Squash
Super Bowl Grub
Take A Walk On The Dark Side
Taste of Manchester Event
The Cosmopolitan
The joys of a simple oatmeal breakfast
The return of comfort food
The One-Note Cook Book
The New American Plate Cookbook
The Stickiest, Hottest & Sweetest Of Love's Labors
The taste of retro
The Unheralded Peanut Butter Cookies
The union of sweet and heat
The Weekly Dish (12-16-04)
The Weekly Dish (12-23-04)

The Weekly Dish [1-13-05]
There's a Barbecue Bonanza Next Door
Week Four: Adding Diet To The Mix
What Was Hot And Haute In 2004
When $$ trumps urge to dine out
When in doubt, go for the organic
When nothing else will cool, Slurp it
You Say Potato, She'll Say Potato,Too
You say tomato, writer says lunch