Wisconsin has maple trees. And maple syrup. The Amish make maple syrup in the area my parents live. They sell it for a reasonable price and it is AMAZING. I like maple syrup.
In Korea there are no maple trees as far as I know. It is hard to find syrup. There's a very weak, runny sort of thing that passes as syrup. Also, no Mrs. Butterworth's that I have found. And if you are lucky enough to find maple syrup, plan on paying about $18 for 8 ounces.
This is why I was on a mission to bring LOTS of maple syrup back to our home in Seoul. It's been on my list for months.
When our family arrived in Viroqua where my parents lived, I made sure to find some. As a matter of fact, I ended up with 1 quart and 1/2 gallon. Fairly heavy cargo, but a perfect pairing for my 10 lbs. of pancake mix from Cosco ($5.97). Surely I would be set for the whole year for Saturday morning pancakes in Seoul.
I was very careful to pack my syrup in gallon ziplocks. But just to be sure they didn't explode in the cargo area of the plane and mess up a suitcase, I made a calculated decision to put them in my carry-on.
The day arrived! Our lovely family of 4 after 6 weeks of marvelous visits with friends and family all over the Mid-west was going home. We said our final good-byes to my mother-in-law and father-in-law at the airport. We happily proceeded to airport security, took off our shoes and placed them in the gray bins for scanning. My carry-on merrily passed through the scanner.
The next thing I know, the good-looking security guy is holding up my carry-on. "This yours?" "Yes." "Step down here please. Don't touch the bag." The security guy takes out his gloves and swab and opens my bag. "Ah. Here would be the problem," he says pulling out my maple syrup. "This is more than three ounces of liquid, Ma'am. You'll have to dispose of it, sorry."
My mind raced. You have got to be kidding me! Stupid!!! How could I not have realized that? Liquid! Maple syrup is LIQUID.
Dejected, I took my maple syrup from the security guard and proceeded downstairs to figure out what to do. Hmm. . . .
I started with the Delta counter. "Excuse me, ma'am. Have you checked my bags through already?" "Yes. Why?" "I was hoping to put this maple syrup in there. How much would it be to check my carry-on as an extra bag?" "$150." $150? Bummer! What next? I could call my mother-in-law if I had her cellphone number and 50 cents, but I don't have either. Drat. Maybe the gift shop has empty 3 oz. bottles and I could buy all of them up and fill them with syrup. I checked the gift shop. No go. Bad idea anyway. I couldn't give it to anyone - not in an airport where you get arrested for giving something to someone to take on a plane. I looked around for my high school friend who I knew was going to be on our same flight. If he HAPPENED to be checking in I could give it to him. No luck. I couldn't just throw it in the garbage! But what?
I decided to return to the Delta counter. "Excuse me, ma'am. I don't suppose you could help me. See, I have this problem with my maple syrup. I've got 3/4 of a gallon and don't know what to do with it. Got any ideas?" "I see what you mean! When are you coming back?" "Next year. But my mother-in-law lives in town. She might be able to pick it up." The Delta gal looked at me sympathetically. "Well, if you can give me her phone number I can call her." She took the package and set it on her counter. "Really? That would be wonderful! When I get back upstairs I can get the number from my husband." "Sounds good. Here's my extension, just have the attendant at the gate give me a call," she said handing me a slip.
So, after waiting for the entire plane to board, I asked the attendant to call Marie at her extension with my mother-in-law's number. "No problem, I'll see her in 20 minutes," he said taking my slip. I boarded the plane, not yet sure of the fate of my maple syrup.
Forty-eight hours later I was shopping for groceries to restock our fridge. There it was! One tiny glass bottle of maple syrup for 18000 KRW (about $17). No way I'm buying that!
Seventy-two hours later I finally spoke to my mother-in-law. "Did you get a weird call from Delta? Did you happen to pick up our syrup?"
"Yep. No problem. I'll keep it for you for next year," she said.
And so it waits, silently mocking my stupidity from a cool basement in Madison, Wisconsin. Have no fear; next year I'll be smarter. I've learned my lesson: Syrup = liquid.