Musing on food and cooking ...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Travels!

The article excerpt below remainds of the many times I have travelled by plane with food items in my carry-on. I have not generally had too many problems, although I have gotten weird looks about bags of bloody looking, obviously home-packaged, meat. I had one problem right after 9-11 when they thought my granola bar might be an explosive and another problem bringing some soup bones back from my mom's house, as the screeners thought they might be human leg bones. They weren't but he was right to be suspicious. I am from Wisconsin, land of Ed Gein and various other serial killers and corpse mutilators, after all.

Excerpt from Patrick Smith's Ask the Pilot column. Read the whole thing at

New carry-on rules mean those security lines are going to be abominable this week, perhaps making for juicier than normal footage. I'll be watching from a safe distance, snickering at the television: "Really, how can a nation that doesn't allow cranberry sauce on a plane not be the safest nation on earth?"

There's a certain weirdness to the idea of food being a potential terrorist weapon, but since the TSA has insisted on bringing this absurdity to bear, here's a brainteaser: mashed potatoes. A few years ago we learned that holiday fruitcakes are prone to set off airport explosives detectors, but in light of the new liquids and gels prohibitions, what about mashed potatoes? Mashed potatoes are a hybrid threat: not quite solid, not quite liquid, and only semi-gel-like (unless they're overcooked). Am I allowed to bring a Tupperware container full of mashed onto my flight?

You think this is silly, and it is, but a week ago my mother caused a small commotion at a checkpoint at Boston-Logan after screeners discovered a large container of homemade tomato sauce in her bag. What with the preponderance of spaghetti grenades and lasagna bombs, we can all be proud of their vigilance. And, as a liquid, tomato sauce is in clear violation of the Transportation Security Administration's carry-on statutes. But this time, there was a wrinkle:

The sauce was frozen.

No longer in its liquid state, the sauce had the guards in a scramble. According to my mother's account, a supervisor was called over to help assess the situation. He spent several moments stroking his chin. "He struck me as the type of person who spent most of his life traveling with the circus," says Mom, who never pulls a punch, "and was only vaguely familiar with the concept of refrigeration." Nonetheless, drawing from his experiences in grade-school chemistry and at the TSA academy, he sized things up. "It's not a liquid right now," he observantly noted. "But it will be soon."

"I wonder if this isn't a test," murmured another guard. The dreaded, mind-bending, what-if-it's-frozen test.

"Please," urged my mother. "Please don't take away my dinner."

Lo and behold, they did not. Whether out of confusion, sympathy or embarrassment, she was allowed to pass with her murderous marinara.

1 comment:

Jenn said...

I read the last part about your mom's sauce to chris. How ridiculous.

Absolutely ridiculous.