Part of the fun of visiting a different country is having the opportunity to sample its national dishes, as well as drinks, cakes, and sweets. It is fun to take a browse in the local markets and the supermarkets looking at all the different products. As well as enjoying all the local food whilst you are in the country, foodie souvenirs can be great fun to take home for you to enjoy and also as the perfect gift for family and friends. Each country has a wealth of different foods to enjoy.
France – perfect for cheeses, wines, and macarons
The top of the list of places to visit if you are a food enthusiast has to be France! There are countless different cheeses to try made with dairy, goats and sheep’s milk. The markets and supermarkets have plenty of choices and if you visit one of the local markets, you will discover many regional favorites made by local producers.
France is world-famous for its wines too, with the excellent wines from the Bordeaux area in the south-west, ranked amongst the best wines in the world. If you enjoy something sweet, the delicious pastel-colored macarons of Paris are irresistible and the most famous brand of all is Laudurée. If you happen to be in the city of Bordeaux, look out for Canalés. These small fluted cakes have a lovely vanilla filling and are available in pretty gift boxes. Each city has a number of excellent chocolatiers to visit too!
Great cookies and chocolates in Germany!
Germany is another place that is regarded as a ‘foodie heaven’ with some really great sausages to enjoy (wurst) including the popular bratwurst and much-enjoyed currywurst! These are not the easiest things to transport in your suitcase but many do! Germany has great cheeses and wines too; with the green wine bottles of Rhine wines and the brown of the Mosel area. If you prefer beer, there is certainly plenty of choices!
German chocolate is well worth investigating as the country is home to Ritter Sport, Milka and Kinder Eggs! If you are a Haribo fan you are in for a treat as these are German too! The Germans like marzipan and a number of sweets are made from local marzipan which tastes quite different as it is made with honey. There are plenty of lovely cakes and biscuits including Lebkucken – the heart-shaped gingerbread that you can have inscribed with the name of your choice.
Enjoy wonderful hams and spices from Spain
There are some fun foodie souvenirs to buy in Spain with extra virgin olive oil being a very popular choice as the Jaén province in Southern Spain is one of the world’s largest producers. Jamon (ham) is very good and you will see huge legs of ham hanging in shops and tapas bars. Jamon Ibérico de Bella is regarded as the best as it comes from Black Iberian pigs that are free-range and have enjoyed a diet of acorns! Jamon Serrano is another good choice!
If you love smoked Spanish paprika there are three types to choose from – dolce (sweet), semi-dolce (medium) and, if you like ‘hot’ opt for ‘picanto‘. If you like cooking with saffron, look out for Spanish saffron – still pricey, but excellent quality. There are good Spanish wines to buy and good sherries like Pedro Ximénez, which is smooth, dark and sweet and is lovely to sip after dinner or to enjoy poured over a rich vanilla ice cream.
Portugal – great for Port and much more!
Portugal is famous for Port, its sweet dessert wine made in the Douro Valley which classically has been a deep red color, but is now available as a white and rosé too. Port is available for every budget including vintage Ports with a price tag of around €100. Portuguese wine is really good too – Vinto Verde, Alentejo wine, Sebúbal, and Madeira all being excellent varieties. If you enjoy liqueurs, a bottle of local Ginjinha – the popular cherry liqueur – is a good choice! Other great foodie souvenirs include olive oil as Portugal makes seven different types and cheese made from cows, sheep or goats milk or a combination of all three! Another classic souvenir is a box of Pastéis de Belém- but be warned, these little custard tarts taste really good, so buy two boxes as you will need them!
Italy – the land of great pasta and much more!
The land of wonderful pasta is sure to have some great foodie souvenirs – and it does! Dried pasta is a great buy because the choice is phenomenal! There are different colored and different flavored pasta to choose from and some excellent tubes of tomato sauces too! There are good Italian wines and extra virgin olive oil to pack in your case and some tasty cured meats which can be bought freshly sliced or pre-packed. Other goodies include Italian biscotti which are hard to resist and of course porcini mushrooms which taste marvelous and are available dried in jars and can be easily reconstituted once you get home! The sliced porcini are good ones to buy as they are perfect for popping on pasta.
Italian cheeses are a good investment especially Parmesan either in a block or freshly grated as it will taste nothing like you are used to! If you love your risotto then pop a bag or two of arborio rice in your case for using when you get home.
The really daft but gorgeous present to buy during your stay in Italy is ‘pocket coffee’ or more accurately, a box of pocket coffees! These are espresso coffee enclosed in a chocolate casing and you simply drop it in a mug of hot water for a taste explosion – buy plenty to dazzle your friends!
Enjoy the cheeses and olives of Greece
The perfect destination for food lovers is Greece, so not surprisingly, there are many food souvenirs to consider! Greece makes many excellent kinds of cheese including its much-loved Feta, Graviera and tasty Myzithra which is available fresh or dried and ready to grate!
Do you like olives? You will be spoilt for choice with green, black, large or small olives with kalamata olives regarded as the top variety. There is plenty of honey to enjoy too, some flavored by the flowers of the mountains and others by citrus blossom. Thyme flavored honey is said to be best of all and if you pack a jar to take home, you will certainly get a pang of missing for Greece whenever you spoon it on your Greek-stile yogurt!
A visit to the UK will certainly give you the chance to enjoy many British foods including pork pies and Cornish pasties plus of course, real fish n’ chips which are best eaten straight from their paper wrapping!
Chocolate is the No 1 souvenir to pop in your suitcase and Cadbury produces delicious bars of milk, plain and white chocolate plus all types of tasty chocolate bars including Crunchie and Curly Wurly and of course, lovely hot chocolate powder! The UK is well known for its tea and there are just so many variations to choose from which makes deciding difficult but it is well worth trying a variety before you decide! If you want to have the classic biscuit to dunk in your tea, McVities digestives are the perfect buy!
If you head north of the border to Scotland, there are two main foodie buys – excellent shortbread which is the crumbly, sugar-dusted Scottish biscuit and the very best whiskey in the world! You will have to decide which is your personal preference which will involve visits to several whiskey distilleries – I will drink to that!!