With all due respect to the legion of Times Square vendors down the street from our office, I’ve never been into decorating with mass-produced trinkets from tourist traps. I’ve bought my fair share of postcards, and even a t-shirt or two, but I’m just not convinced that a tapestry pillow emblazoned with the skyline of, well, any city that has a skyline and an airport gift shop, is something to build a decor around.
Certainly, kitsch can be cute. Elvis dish towels, aprons, oven mitts, and refrigerator magnets from Memphis or Las Vegas are whimsical—not in your kitchen, of course, but in that of a relative or close friend. And plenty of style savvy hipsters collect vintage travel memorabilia and display it with great flair.
I wish them happy trails and dusting. But even if your home office is begging for a beautiful new paperweight in the shape of the Golden Gate Bridge, am I—I mean, are you—ever going to make money twenty years from now by selling it on eBay? Besides, how would I—I mean, you—ever have gotten that pointy thing through airport security?
All of which brings me to a recent trip to France and a surprising change of heart, especially for a beer-and-wine gal: I’ve started collecting decaled shot glasses. Allow me to justify: affordable, ubiquitous, small, stackable, lightweight, easily wrapped in dirty socks. Moreover, you can use them to serve up dessert in the manner of Le Lancelot, a restaurant in the Loire Valley town of Chilleurs-aux-Bois (phone: 011-33-02-38-32-91-15).
There, a melon-ball-size scoop of chocolate mint ice cream stood tall among a plate of tiny tempting treats. Resting atop the rim of a clear shot glass, the creamy confection had just begun to melt, dripping slowly into a shallow pool of crème de menthe at the bottom of the container. With the nudge of a demitasse spoon, the ball slipped easily into the drink and into my heart.
While my brain and taste buds were swimming in mint perfection, my imagination ran wild with possible ice cream and topping (or should I call them tipping) combinations, starting with a classic: vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate, then moving quickly to vanilla bean and rum, and then to combinations more suited to my upcoming Thanksgiving feast: pumpkin ice cream and maple syrup, anyone? Is this how Ben & Jerry got started? Why had I passed up the souvenir stands near the Louvre?
My one shot glass, shown here, from Rouen, a cathedral town in Normandy, hardly counts as a collection. (Truthfully, I meant to buy more, but I was distracted by a chilled, cauliflower soup appetizer served in an eggcup; I now have two souvenir eggcups.) And there are rules: I’m the only person allowed to add to the collection, and I must take the trip to gather the memories along with the mementos. Now, where did I put my dust cloth and my passport?—HomeSnark™