Skip to content


December 6, 2019

“Would you mind opening up your suitcase, sir?” I have heard these words many times as we do our yearly transit from America to Europe. We live on two continents and we are constantly on the move.

I always quickly oblige but in doing so I chuckle a bit. The security agent at either Asheville, or Atlanta or both tosses through my things and then asks the inevitable question: “Why is your suitcase full of marshmallows?” I explain that they are gifts for our friends and their children back in Italy. It makes no sense to them and they usually follow by quizzing me if I am taking them abroad to sell. When I finally assure them that I am not a marshmallow mule, they let me go but as I look back they are always scratching their heads in disbelief.

So why is my suitcase full of marshmallows? Well, the story goes like this: Many, many years ago we learned from our friends in Italy that European marshmallows, when they can be found, do not toast over an open fire. They simply melt and fall into the flames like bits of plastic goo. I thought this was ridiculous until I tried to toast an Italian marshmallow years ago. Yep, plop it went into the coals. It simply liquefied before my eyes.

I assured our friends that American marshmallows don’t simply melt off the end of the stick but rather they become a golden treat. (Okay, ashen treat if you’re like most kids.) I promised that I would bring back a bag on out next trip over. That was years ago. They were so popular that now I must bring a whole suitcase full just to satisfy the hungry children of our friends in our neighboring village. Their first words upon our arrival are usually, “Marshmallow bitte?” I oblique but usually hold a bit back for the end of summer.

We often eat them together at a filo’ (bonfire) before the remainder is consumed by hungry mouths like cracked corn in a chicken coop. It’s fun for all. Two years ago, we all sat together with visitors from Japan and ate the golden blobs into the night. They claimed that American marshmallows were definitely superior to those found in Japan. Of course, the older kids liked to light them afire and twirl them around in the blackness of the Tirolean night like fireworks. I call them marshmallow pinwheels.

In the last few years however, I decided to treat these children to the full array of American consumerism. I now port standard marshmallows, the mini variety, the huge smores sized chunks and even ones with different flavors such as pumpkin. When I am purchasing these in the United States, I always feel I must explain why I am buying so many. The grocery clerks have that same puzzled look as the airport security agents.

In the end, it all works out and everyone is happy. And oh yes, I have definitely become the marshmallow whisperer of the Val di Non.

Do you take any special gifts with you when you travel?

Please follow this blog by clicking follow below. Your comments are always welcome.

Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at


From → America, Humor, Italy, Travel

  1. No wonder you’re popular! There’s nothing French I take back to UK other than my home made Xmas cakes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love smores I ll never forget the camping in New York, Usa marshmallows obviously, branch🍡, chocolate🍫, biscuits and the fire 🔥… Do you know something more poetic? 😉 Not only for kids😜

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ha, I love this post! I remember taking orders for things when I lived in Italy and travelled back to US (and posting my food “wish list” on my blog). The one thing I learned the hard way a year or so ago, is do not try and fly with dried New Mexico red Chile! It tested positive for explosives (the green did not) – as it apparently has the same ingredient and pepper spray – I got to experience “enhanced” screening (ack!) and lost my gifts to boot – now I buy the stuff sold at the airport!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We had a similar experience with sulfur soap. We bought it in Italy to take to the U.S. because we like the brand and formula. Bang! Got pulled out of line on three trips running for “gunshot residue.” Duh! Now we restrict our gifts to marshmallows and clothing.


  4. L.Roach permalink

    Love the post Allen! On my last visit to Val di Non I brought little lapel pins from Santa Fe for the men that could be added to a Tyrolean hat. My female cousins received small silver cross necklaces created by a local Native American craftsman. I like your idea of marshmallows very much! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nothing quite like a marshmallow. There is also Marshmallow Fluff…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You sound like a marshmallow yourself when it comes to life and marshmallows.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Funny story. I never liked marshmallows, not peanut butter, I was already too old to appreciate both when I moved to the US.
    I also have the suitcase full of items in my back and forth, Advil being the n. 1 necessity.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a great, funny story, Allen. How sweet of you to oblige the local children with treats like that! When I’m on my research road trips, I like to take coffee mugs and locally roasted coffee. Sometimes wine. These are for people who invite me to stay in their home. I’ve also taken little pins from Colorado to give as thank yous to librarians and archivists – though I’ve heard Starbucks gift cards are a good idea.

    I must say I got a good chuckle out of your “chicken coupe”! I think our local birds would also go for a little sporty number in red, a convertible for sure.😁😂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Forgive me, Allen, for the teasing. I’d been reading a whole lot of typos and bad grammar just beforehand and that little one just made me laugh.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a fun post!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I’ll let you know, once I win the lottery and start traveling. In the meantime, I’ll have to content myself with being friends with the “Marshmallow Mench.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Congratulations! Your blog has been included in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at

    Thank you, Chris

    You made me laugh out loud.. and revived a memory of my Aunt travelling with her own toilet paper when she stayed with her sister in another state, as she didn’t know if she would have real toilet paper in the country… 5 miles out of a capital city!

    Liked by 1 person

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Marshmallows — allenrizzi | Ups and Downs of Family History V2.0
  2. allenrizzi – Featured Blogger of the Week December 13, 2019 | Ups and Downs of Family History V2.0

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: