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You won't find "tortilla press" on the Department of Homeland Security's list of items forbidden on airplanes, but don't try taking one on your next flight. Rob Valencia, chef at Rosa Mexicana in New York, recently learned that lesson when he tried to take an antique tortilla press he found in his mother's house in San Antonio back to New York via Houston and Dallas.

Valencia was carrying the press, approximately 8-inches in diameter and roughly 4 pounds, in his carry-on luggage. "Everytime the bag went through the x-ray machine they had to search it," Valencia says. "In the San Antonio airport, it was no big deal; in the Houston airport, no big deal. But in the Dallas airport they said it was dangerous and could be used to break a window."

Airport security gave Valencia the option of picking up the tortilla press at a later date, but he decided to part with the cast-iron appliance rather than make a special trip back to Dallas to pick it up. The press, which Valencia had planned to mount on a mantel of antiques, found its final resting place in the hazardous materials bin at the Dallas-Forth Worth Airport.

By Elyas Bakhtiari

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