How many of us have come home from trips with a collection of little doo-dads? As we unpack the suitcases we wonder why we thought those posters, coin purses, even quasi-art objects were something that we wanted. Here’s an idea that is sure to preserve interesting memories, and doesn’t necessarily have to cost any more than what you would have spent on the vacation in the first place.
Instead of bringing home stuff, bring home gustatory memories, but document the experiences. Spend money on one or two, or several quality edibles. Cheese, wines, interesting meats, or local specialties are good candidates. You can save labels for a scrapbook. If your trip is not entirely spent at a commercial theme park there are likely to be local ethnic eateries. Cities usually have sections where particular nationalities congregate, where you can find genuine foods from these cultures.
Be sure to take pictures of when the treat was enjoyed. This is particularly necessary in restaurants where there probably won’t be a label to keep. However, there might be an interesting placemat, napkin or coaster. Perhaps the decor is also centered on the ethnic theme.
Make notes about the flavors; this can be as brief or detailed as you want to be, but do write down something. Document whether the foods were as good as you expected or not something you wish to repeat. Write down what was unique about the food. You may think you will never forget a particular experience, but five years later that memory may not be so clear unless you’ve written out some facts and reactions.
One memorable stop for us was a Russian restaurant. It turned out to have a mix of traditional foods and modern culture, which included a floor show. We sampled borscht and an interesting pot pie while listening to love songs in Russian!
We’ve brought home locally milled grains for later use. Historic mills often sell small bags of their product, and fresh ground corn meal has an amazing texture and flavor. Sometimes even the grocery stores are a source of products produced within a particular state, such as flour from the Dakotas.
One summer we stopped at a craft fair where they were serving mojaka, a Finnish soup featuring potatoes and cloves, with a bit of meat or fish. It was unlike anything we’d tried before and very tasty. In Ohio a small café was serving pork brain patties on a bun, like hamburgers. I had to turn off my brain to try it, but the flavor was mild and the texture smooth.
The scrapbook will remind you of years worth of taste treats, while taking up little room in your home. The great foods will stimulate memories of the good times surrounding them, and the mistakes are sure to be good for a laugh or two.