Stephan's thoughtful parents gave Porter a jar of Speculoos à Tartiner for Christmas, and I can't wait to try it. It's made by Lotus, the same folks who make the incredibly delicious Biscoff cookies Porter occasionally brings home from a plane flight.
I don't have as much quarrel with the TSA as many people do, but I am tired of having my luggage singled out for hand inspection nearly every time I fly. On my most recent trip to Switzerland, I wasn't particularly surprised to find the tell-tale TSA notice in my checked bag when it and I were finally reunited (that's another story), because I was carrying a large, metal cylinder filled with dangerous ... candy canes. The can did a great job of protecting the fragile candy, but must have looked intimidating on the x-ray. There is no packing job so good that the TSA can't make a hash of it, but the only victim of their efforts was one crushed chocolate truffle. We promptly destroyed the evidence.
On the way home I thought I had a chance of escaping. I had a few bizarre encounters with airport security—none of which involved pat-downs, I'm glad to say—but it wasn't until I landed in Charlotte that my checked bag became a problem.
First, I was singled out for special treatment at Customs, because I'd answered honestly the question, "Are you bringing any food into the country?" That always gets me into trouble, although normally as soon as I explain that the food is chocolate, cookies, and similar items, they lose interest.
Not this time. Everything, including my purse, went through a scanner. "What's in the jar?" I was asked. "It's kind of like peanut butter," was the best I could do, but it was sufficient. The pleasant Customs officials released me, and I thought I was home free.
Not too surprisingly, however, Customs and the TSA don't share all their information. When I retrieved my bag in Orlando, it was not the unscathed piece of equipment I had re-checked in Charlotte. That my special Towers-Perrin strap was ripped was clearly the fault of some mechanical demon, but what accounted for the odd shape of the bag? When I opened the bag to check for damage, it was clear that someone had gone through the contents. No way would I have left fragile items on the very top, unprotected by several layers of clothing! Amazingly, all appeared to be well, despite the mangling. But who had done the inspection? It must have been done in Europe, I reasoned, because I could see no TSA slip. It wasn't until a few days later, when I removed the Speculoos jar from its protective wrapping, that I found the notice from the TSA, carefully wrapped around the jar.... To give them credit, they did return the glass jar to its bubble wrap, and no damage was done.
I'm really looking forward to tasting that which caused so much concern. If it's as good as I hear, I may be braving TSA and Customs inspections on subsequent trips.
That's all I was going to say. But in researching Speculoos à Tartiner for this post, I came upon this post by pastry chef David Lebowitz. While drooling wandering around his site I also discovered a post about his visit to Lausanne, Switzerland. At least one of my readers will not want to miss it.