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Aug 28, 2006 02:57 PM

Food Gifts from Spain?

I'll be working in Barcelona in September for a few weeks and would like to do some early holiday shopping for family and friends. Beside the list of wines and olive oils that I have, what are some other food or food related items that would be suitable for me to ship back to the US that I could use as gifts, or in gift baskets.

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  1. Saffron from the Mancha region is some of the best in the world! You CAN bring it legally into the US; but I strongly urge you to declare it on the customs form when you re-enter the US (this will almost always mean that you will undergo an agriculture inspection as well, so pack it where it's easy to pull out and show the friendly guys from USDA). The good news is that saffron takes up virtually no space, so no need to incur the expense of shipping it ahead.

    1. With increased globalization, it is increasing difficult to find food items that are not imported and available in large cities or through the internet. I like to bring back honey, jams, fruit paste, dried beans, bomba rice, high quality canned tuna, anchovies and sardines, smoke paprika, marcona almonds, aged sherry vinegar, chocolate turron.

      1. Canned goods are an excellent idea. There are really high quality canned goods, like tuna, that either are difficult to find in the USA or very expensive. CUCA brand is a high quality brand of canned goods that are sold in most supermarkets. They make excellent tuna, sardines (both in tomato sauce and escabeche), mussels and beberechos. You can also purchase bonito chunks in olive oil. Canned tuna in Spain makes the canned tuna in the States seem like cat food.

        Turron is also a good idea. It is a shame that you will not been in Barcelona closer to Christmas. Near the holidays, hundreds of turron shops open throughout the city. There are an infinite variety of turron to choose from: the traditional white turrons with almonds, yemas which are made of egg yolk and is very sweet and dense, marzapan, chocolate...

        With respect to food related items, I love giving mortar and pesto sets which are great for making aioli at home. Every catalan household has one.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mielimato

          I second the canned goods rec, and the rec for smoked paprika..make sure you get the three varities of the LaVera paprika..sweet, agrocolce, and picante. I always bring home jamon Iberico in vacuum packs as well..there is nothing like it anywhere in the world and if you are a meat lover you need to try this as often as possible. I also bring membrillo and cheeses.....Corrte Ingles has a fabulous food hall downstairs. And don't forget pimienta piquillo in cans or jars, and ditto asparagus from Navarra (check the label and make sure it is from there, not from Peru) . For more food ideas, take a look at La Tienda's online catalog of Spanish foods. Also, Magno LaToja is fabulous black soap for very few euros.

          1. re: mielimato

            Definitely turron -- try the xixona (soft variety) at the artisan turron shop of Planelles-Donat located at Puerta del Angel 7 and 25. Excellent stuff! Wish I'd brought back more.

          2. dried fig cake with almond is delicious and often comes in a beautiful small basket which makes for great presentation (tie a bow and you're done.)
            and unfortunately I cannot recall the brand,but there are many in portugal-
            regional honey with almonds (or walnuts). it makes a delicious spread on toast.

            1. SMOKED PAPRIKA for sure! it's wicked good! especially if you cook for a vegetarian like I do and can't use bacon to liven up the flavour of soups, etc.