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My Best Souvenir: Mark Ellwood

 
Lizano sauce from Costa Rica.

Long after the jet lag has faded, the memories remain. And so do the souvenirs. We respect the travelers who leave only footsteps and take only memories, but we're more of the "nice to see you sitting on my bookshelf, Lebanon" types. We asked Fathom travelers about their best souvenirs and the stories behind them. After all, what's a good souvenir without an even better traveler's tale?

Mark Ellwood is the globetrotting author of Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World. We're curious what such a savvy shopper would treasure most.

Name: Mark Ellwood

What is your best souvenir? Nothing has changed my life like the small brown bottle of Lizano salsa that came into my life late last year when I was on vacation in Costa Rica.

Where and when did you get it? Picture this: I'm sitting at a restaurant at my hotel with my longest serving friend. He and I had both just wrapped major projects and needed to hole up for two weeks in isolation to decompress with books, beer, and barely any conversation. I order some scrambled eggs, and the waiter asks if I'd like some Lizano sauce. I'm always curious about local food, so he brought a small saucer of the gloopy brown liquid to the table. It was like an Academy Award for my tastebuds, and I remember trekking along a dusty seaside road the next day to the local mini market and bulk-buying bottles of the stuff to shove into my bag. I even opted to check my luggage to allow me to bring back extra Lizano.

How much did it cost? Each bottle was around $3, but worth ten times that.

Where do you keep it? It sits in pride of place in the door of my fridge, the only non-wine item. I now ration myself, as I'm down to the final few servings. If I'm having a dull or depressing start to the day, I allow myself a squirt onto my morning scrambled eggs as a pick-me-up.

Why is it so special? If ketchup is some pretty girl from a small town in California who won a couple local beauty contests, Lizano is Angelina Jolie — the hottest, sexiest woman in the world. It's that good. And the trip I took to Costa Rica was one of my favorite, most relaxing vacations ever, so it has the added bonus of evoking a two week period when I neither checked email nor read the news.

MORE MARK

Read all his Fathom stories

YOUR TURN

What's your best souvenir? Tell us in the comments below.

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