Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Souvenir Advice from Susan Allen Toth

book cover - England As You Like It

When I started reading England As You Like It, I was struck by how dated some of it is. Written in 1995, the book tells you how to find information about a destination, and how to find good maps to buy - all with no reference to the internet.


But then I hit the chapter entitled A Supermarket of Souvenirs - and I started smiling. Here's (part of) the first paragraph:
Searching for affordable souvenirs in England is not always easy. Friends and relatives often expect something, but what? ... A skirt length of Harris tweed or Scotch tartan might, for a cost-conscious tourist, involve giving up a long-awaited tea at the Dorchester. (And who do you know who wants a tartan skirt?) Most of the fairly inexpensive trinkets at street stands ... are either flimsy or gaudy, or both.
While I don't entirely agree with author Susan Allen Toth about the need to bring back gifts for folks, I do resonate with her clutter-avoiding solution: consumables, which she suggests buying at the grocery store. She recommends everything from Highland Oatcakes to Frank Coopers Fine Cut Oxford Marmalade to Patum Peperium. And I love this one - even if, like Toth, I'm not sure who I'd give it to:
For sheer uniqueness as an English souvenir, I did not think I could surpass a compact oval container of lovage and celandine deodorant.
Update: Be sure to note the caution about prohibited items in the comments; not all items are acceptable for import to the U.S., and I imagine other countries have similar regulations.


Sheri said...

Our daughter tried to bring home some canned haggis from Scotland. It was in her luggage and it was confiscated by U.S. Customs in Seattle. I wonder if some foods are okay to bring into the U.S. while other foods aren't okay.

Jeri Dansky said...

Sheri, thank you for raising this good point. CBP (Customs and Border Protection) tells us that meat and meat products - fresh dried or canned - cannot be brought into the U.S.

CBP also tells us that fresh fruits and vegetables are problematic.

When it comes to prepared products, bakery items and most condiments, vinegars, oils, packaged spices, honey, coffee and tea are fine. But avoid products containing meat products, such as bouillon and soup mixes.

Louise said...

I think haggis is prohibited because it is classified as an WMD (weapon of miserable digestion)...

Anonymous said...

These are my two favorite sites for consumable gifts! Wonderful pistachios and chocolate almond toffee!





Jeri Dansky said...

Louise: I've never actually tasted haggis, but I've heard stories ...

Claycat/Mary, I've given gifts from Artisanal Premium Cheese.

And I've brought home food as a gift from my travels, too. The latest was macarons from Ladurée.

MarySees said...

Actually, I ate some haggis at the Golden Lion Hotel in Sterling, Scotland, when I was just 14. I kind of liked it, but that was before I knew what it was. LOL!

That cheese link looks yummy, Jeri!


Jeri Dansky said...

Speaking of haggis - and bringing it into the USA - here's the latest news.