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The Vanilla Custard
Mom with a View

The Vanilla Custard

One of life's absurdities.


As a kosher consumer I am always looking for new and interesting kosher products. If I see something unusual I usually snap it up; I'll figure out a way to use it afterwards. And as a kosher cook and busy mother (although it's only my home, it frequently feels like a 24-hour diner), I am always looking for time-saving products.

So I was excited on a recent trip to the east coast to find boxes of prepared vanilla custard. All cooks have their psychological blocks. Custard is one of mine. I can make the tart crust. I can set out the fruit and make and brush on the glaze. But custard eludes me. So this was a thrilling discovery (sometimes it's the little things!).

I only bought two boxes (an exercise in self-control) but I was eager to try them and looked forward to an early opportunity, probably the upcoming Shabbos.

At the airport our bags were overweight (with the new 50 pound limit, aren't everyone's?!), so we began frantically reallocating our items. We moved a lot of books to our carry-on bags. We moved some shampoo, some deodorant -- and the custard.

We were thinking weight, not TSA security requirements. We had forgotten about those in the middle of everything else (see earlier article for the full saga of our trip).

As we passed through the security check, the agent began removing items from our carry-on -- the shampoo, the deodorant and…yes, the custard. "But it's not a liquid," I gently protested. To no avail.

I'm not sure what explosive substances could masquerade as vanilla custard but rules are rules. Some TSA agent was going to be able to make that tart for her family that evening. I thought longingly of the more astute El Al security and yearned for the days of racial profiling!

As silly as it sounds, and given the rest of the challenges of that day of flying, I was upset by the loss of that custard, frustrated that I hadn't thought of the regulations when repacking, more frustrated that vanilla custard was on the list of banned products.

A week later my son returned home from a vacation in New York. His grandfather gave him a Swiss army knife for a present (It's a guy thing). Unthinkingly, he put it in his carry-on, and sailed through security without a problem. I wonder if he would have had better luck than me with the vanilla custard.

Sometimes you just have to laugh at life's absurdities.

September 6, 2008

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Visitor Comments: 11

(11) Anonymous, May 17, 2011 3:56 PM

can good

we had something similair happened with a meat can good from France ( still wondering what becomes of it ) do they have a dinner free on the tourists mishaps? :-)

(10) Feigele, September 10, 2008 5:37 PM

Custard as Chemical Weapons! ha! ha! ha!

I’ll tell you what substances your custard could masquerade! Chemical weapons! Your custard could have decayed during that long ordeal of traveling, and, therefore, would have contaminated the whole plane with stinking germs and infected all on board!!! Of course, I’m just kidding! This story reminds me of another one, here on, about another kosher woman who was also prevented to keep her hummus, gefilt fish, matza balls, etc. The souls of our grandmothers are still with us, making sure we have food all the time, no matter where we are or where we are going. It’s in our souls. My son-in-law ask me: “why do you finish your plate all the time?”. Of course, I tried to explain about starving people especially children, the work to prepare the food and money too, but it’s like talking to a wall, although I trained all members of my family not to fill their plate but rather get second servings. Why is it so vital that we have to make sure our children eat enough, "ess mamele, ess tatele, ess, ess and fress", and when they are finish, "ess mehr". As a child I used to believe that my parents would be so proud if I ate more, so I ate. Not my sister though. My husband too had a small Swiss Army knife in his carry-on bag but they got him! It is a guy’s thing all right! (to put it in their bag). Thank G-d for Security.

(9) Dvirah, September 10, 2008 6:29 AM


Are the airlines themselves aware that while they confiscate harmless foodstuffs, people are passed with real weapons? or is it that they fear only bombings while don't care if their passengers are shot or stabbed? I've heard several times now about cosmetics and foodstuffs being taken while knives and guns were allowed. Granted that the customs agents can't test the powders and liquids so don't allow them, why are they so indifferent to items that could cause immediate injury? (Bombs, especially starting from powders, must first be assembled. A knife or gun can be whipped out and used instantly.)

(8) J. Jacklin, September 10, 2008 2:52 AM

Custard on plane

These ARE dangerous times! If the custard was as a powder, why would airlines take a chance? As travellers we MUST educate ourselves and act as eyes and ears to HELP security, not give them more areas of concern. I had my non-duty free rum taken and rightly so!

(7) Anonymous, September 9, 2008 3:54 PM

It's a shame, but I understand TSA

You have not one, but two boxes filled with a whitish powder. Perhaps you've hidden Anthrax ?

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