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How she travels with Food and Wine

American Journeywoman Micheline Maynard is a former New York Times correspondent and contributor to Gadling, Forbes and The Atlantic Cities. Follow her on Twitter @culinarywoman and on Facebook as CulinaryWoman. Micheline writes...

I'm a much-traveled foodie, and I love to go shopping - but not for clothes or shoes or trinkets. I like to bring home food. That doesn't mean just spices, or cereal, or a chocolate bar, the easy things to pack. I mean entire meals, baked goods, and even sauces.

On my most recent trip to New Orleans, I returned with Satsuma oranges, green tomatoes, a jar of mayonnaise, another jar of home made remoulade sauce, grits, fried chicken, butterscotch pudding, macarons and dark chocolate almond bark.

All made it back safely, thanks to tips I received from Judy Walker, the food editor at the New Orleans Times-Picayune. You can read her blog posts here.

There's a world of possibilities - and gifts galore - in food and for those who imbibe, wine and spirits. Here are my seven favorite tips for traveling with food and wine.


Before you go...

Assemble a food travel kit. Mine includes zip-lock bags, scissors, express shipping invoice, thawed ice packs, and packing tape. Some people might include sheets of aluminum foil, but my experience has been that any restaurant or take out shop has this available, as well as butcher paper.

An insulated tote, like a lunch carrier, or a flat insulated bag, also comes in handy. Once you arrive, start collecting newspapers. (You'll see why soon.)


For international travellers...

Check your country's restrictions on food imports. This is very imporant! Many don't allow air travelers to bring in fresh fruits and vegetables, although it's generally okay by car at border crossings. Some don't allow meat.

What are your local limits on alcohol? When I was 16, I came back from France with five bottles of liquor (well, it was legal to buy them there). The customs agent miraculously let me into the U.S. with them. I doubt that would happen now.


How long without refrigeration? ...

Also consider, "How long can this keep without refrigeration?" Although our government agencies can be strict about requiring food to be kept chilled, many cooked things can survive for hours, even a full day. Hard cheese is stable and even softer cheeses and butter fare well as long as they are wrapped or in a plastic container. Chocolates the same, unless it's very hot. If you'd leave it out a few hours, it's safe to take it with you.


Remember to ask...

As you're making your purchase, tell the clerk, "I'm traveling. Can you wrap this for me?" In France, some wine shops will provide you with a ready-made box that can be checked on the airplane. Many also have bubble wrap on hand.

I just had a chef in New Orleans prepare my leftover fried chicken for travel. He wrapped it first in waxed paper, then in foil, then put it in a Zip-lock marked "fried chicken" in case a TSA agent thought it was something contraband.


Your suitcase stays cold...

If you're flying, think suitcase first. Your suitcase travels in the coldest part of the plane. How many times have you collected it in the airport, only to discover how cold your clothes are when you get home? The corners of your suitcase are perfect for food purchases, and clothing is a grand protector for wine.


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