I hate dusting. I HATE it. Which would be apparent if you were to walk into my house right now. Therefore, when I travel, the types of souvenirs I’m going to search for are not going to be thimbles from the Grand Canyon or shot glasses from Dublin (OK, there was that one Guinness pint glass from Thin Lizzy’s favorite bar I sneaked into my bag, but let’s not go into that).
I’m a foodie. And while kitch souvenirs are sometimes fun and endure the decades, I travel with epicurean pleasures in mind and set a priority on the flavors of my vacations. If I’m in San Fransisco I’ll pick up some fresh sourdough bread to go with my Anchor Steam. If I’m in the Texas Hill Country it’s gonna be Shiner Blonde to wash down my pecans & BBQ (mmmm… Kreutz). Key lime pie + Margaritaville Tequila = Key West Florida.
Here in France there are 375 to 450 types of cheese and each town has their own bread or pastry variation. Same goes for the wines and spirits. The French believe that food should be simple, but pleasurable. The ingredients that come from your area are going to be the freshest and have the best flavors (they were into macrobiotics before it was a thing). It follows that when you are searching out local products, the components are going to pair well together.
So here’s what I do when I visit a new region: I go grocery shopping. I prefer to stop by the local caves, la fromagerie, or the little corner épicerie, but if I don’t have the time (or the budget) I make a run for the supermarché. Yannick laughs at me, but he’s cute so I still share with him.
I spend a few minutes choosing four to six bottles in the wine section by studying their labels. Yannick calls this my theme park – but it’s so much fun (for me, I’m sure nobody else has this quirk)! Sometimes a region is known for only one or two different wines and then I can increase my per bottle budget a bit, but I generally have an ‘under 10€’ rule. The whole concept is local and the locals are NOT going to waste superfluous funds on their everyday bottles. Sometimes I get lucky and find something to store for a few years, but generally, I’m looking for bottles that will be consumable within three years.
And they still collect dust, but somehow I don’t mind wiping down the label if I’m popping a cork that will return me to a vacation memory.