Food gifts for Zurich friends from northern Calif.
Will be visiting friends and relatives near Zurich. What kind of food gifts would be good. Sadly the best I can come up with are Sees hard candies (no chocolate, of course). Need something that's not too heavy (Calif wine, while great gifts, maybe too heavy to lug through customs and at least one plane change). No cheese or chocolate for the Swiss (no Rolax either). Any good ideas? Calif. nuts?
California nuts are good. Whenever my Swiss friends visit, they always take back bags of nuts--pecans especially. For some reason, pecans were most desired, but that could be just them. I don't know. They also like to take back tortillas, both corn and flour.
Anyway, I think anything that is distinctly Californian or American would probably be okay.
My friends, and their friends in Frauenfeld where they are from, are also infatuated with KFC. Why? I haven't the foggiest. But they always make a last minute run to the nearest KFC before departing for home and carefully pack up a bucket of original recipe in layers of foil & ziplock bags, and miraculously, they never have gotten sick when they finally get to eating it. I wouldn't recommend it though!
Nuts is a great idea! How about dried fruits like the kind you get at Trader Joe's? Or even Joseph Schmidt truffles? They are excellent. I know they are chocolates, but they are local to Northern CA. Or even gourmet salad dressings. You could get more gourmet food ideas from Williams Sonoma.
Sourdough bread?? While bulky, you could get rounds instead of long loaves to make it easier.
Note in point: you can no longer bring bottles of wine on board anyway and would need a lot of faith to send it below. Regions like Napa and Chianti are hard hit by this tourist affected ban.
I'd go with some beautiful artisanal olives or olive oil (though that may present the same problem as wine -- potentially breakable and heavy?). Nuts are a great idea -- especially nuts that are typically American like pecans or pistachios. I'd also recommend locally-produced farm honeys (something that's only avail in California, such as Sage, Avocado Blossom, or Star Thistle honey).
If your friends are into Chinese duck, maybe there's an Asian market where you can pick up condiments and things they can't get in Switz.? Hard to tell what they can't get now that all kinds of ingredients are so widely available.
I personally think anything that's locally produced and labeled as such makes a thoughtful gift. If you have a farmers' market or food shop that stocks such things near you, I'd browse there for good ideas.
Nuts is a good idea, although it's hardly lightweight. Pistachio (Santa Barbara Pistachio Company was really good - www.santabarbarapistachios.com), even macadamia nuts since I doubt they'll see that in Zurich much.
I don't recall many exotically flavored chocolates in Switzerland, so I don't know if chocolates is completely out. Something different from Vosges (red fire) or Recchiuti (rust or green box)? Recchiuti also have chocolate dipped dried fruits (never tried).
Not unique to CA but I wonder if Japanese rice crackers or chinese beef/pork jerky are something that's common to Zurich? If not, they are not that heavy.
I know this was posted a while ago, but as a CA native living in Zurich, and reading the comments below, I couldn't help but chime in for your next visit :) I crave tortillas (the ones from Trader Joes- the 'handmade' ones, would work). I know you said no cheese, but have you considered a really good sharp cheddar (nonexistant in CH!) or even a tasty blue? If they are swiss though, I would avoid giving cheese (this might even slightly offend them, as swiss take great pride in their cheese and think that American cheese is like American coffee).
The only fruit I would bring would be really great peaches (like from central CA in Aug/Sept). Personally, I would welcome good raisins (unfortunately, very substandard here). I would avoid oranges (Spain is close by and there are plenty here). Nuts are a nice idea, especially pecans- never seen one here, and they travel well. Good luck with your next visit.