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Foodie Souvenirs from Italy

A few weeks ago there was a thread in the France forum about what food items people bring home from France. It got me thinking about Italy. When I think about bringing home stuff from Italy, not nearly as many things come to mind. Pecorino, "00", anchovies in salt, maybe but Italy is more of a eat-it-while-you're-there place. So I'm just interested. What do you all find it worthwhile to bring back.

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  1. Dried porcini; sun dried tomatoes; cheeses; canned and jarred tuna; olive oil; mostarda; honey;
    I could not even begin to list what I drag home each time.

    1. Canned anchovies, Pecorino Pepato and P Romano, bresaola, proscuitto,

      8 Replies
      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        Unless the laws have changed since the last time I checked, bresaola and prosciutto, being meats, cannot be brought into the US.

        1. re: mbfant

          I live in Colombia. I wrap up stuff in my check-in if I pass through the US.

          1. re: mbfant

            Yeah, but the Brunella asked "What do you all find it worthwhile to bring back". What the law says and whats practiced are two different animals.
            Prosciutto de Parma!

            1. re: porker

              The last time I returned to the US a month ago, everyone's carryons got sniffed by the dog for contraband agricultural/meat items. My mom flew in a few weeks before me to another airport and reported the same thing. It seems like airports are getting more strict lately with their checks.

              1. re: queencru

                Who said anything about carryons?
                We're talking deep luggage (buy an extra bag abroad, specifically for the occasion), triple wrapped, surgical gloves,

                ahhhh, nevermind.

                1. re: porker

                  With restrictions on fluids, a lot of the things mentioned here couldn't get on a plane anyway.

                  When I transported a bottle of homemade liqueur in my luggage last year I wrapped it in a small towel, put the towel in a ziplock plastic bag, and put the bag in my checked luggage, kind of in the middle to minimize the chance that a random blow would break it. That worked fine.

                    1. re: jlafler

                      This is exactlly what my husband did when he brought home lemoncello and, wine and olive oil.

                      He travels often and always brings back some candy, its fun to give to kids and family, and is an inexpensive souviner

          2. We brought back Vin Santo when we were there in 1999. At the time it was nearly impossible to find in the U.S., but that may have changed.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jlafler

              Olive oil, Parmeggiano-Reggiano, Balsamic vinegar, Profumo del Chianti, mostarda, lots of dried porcini.

              Leaving today for Toscana, and can't wait to stock up again.

            2. smoked garlic - I have seen it in many parts of Italy - it's fab.

              5 Replies
              1. re: smartie

                Does that come in a jar/tube/can? Whole cloves? I've never heard of it before.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  It's just whole bulbs of garlic that have been smoked. You can get it at speciality markets like Borough Market in London, and I've seen it in regular supermarkets everywhere in France.

                  1. re: greedygirl

                    Thanks - I'll have to ask after it here in NY.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      MM: I saw smoked garlic at Fairway a few weeks ago.

                      1. re: erica

                        Thanks - is it in the produce section?

                1. Il farro, a variety of spelt (softer than other spelt) which is very popular among health-conscious Italians. I can buy it here at Italian groceries, but it is much more expensive.

                  We can't bring meats back to Canada, and even cheeses can be problematic.

                    1. re: Den

                      Bottarga di tono if you're going to Sicily -- I think they make it from mullet in Sardegna.

                      1. re: grayelf

                        Yes - gray mullet - I prefer it to the tuna one.

                      2. re: Den

                        I can get that here (Petite Italie - Montréal) but it depends where you live.

                        1. re: lagatta

                          I live in NYC and most of these things (well, at least all of them with which I'm familiar) I can get here, and so probably wouldn't do too much loading up if it were me. However, I can certainly see buying things that I can't find here, or haven't seen before etc. That said, I've noticed that sometimes when I travel - or even go to say an Italian specialty market on Arthur Avenue - I buy things and then discover that they are actually available in my local market - I just hadn't been aware of their existence before.

                      3. Bring back *superior* Italian cooking utensils (if you cook) as well as other kitchen items such as serving platters, etc. As far as foodstuffs, I'd include dried herbs in that list, cheeses, italian sweets, olive oils, liquors, and even pasta.

                        Italy, be reminded, is food paradiso. ... Enjoy!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Cheese Boy

                          If you'll be in Milan, run, do not walk, to Peck's. While they have branches in department stores around the world (especially in Japan), it is marvelous to visit the home office, so to speak. I've brought back their tea, coffee and pesto.

                        2. If you're near Rome, go to Deruta and buy fabulous Italian faience. At the Grazie Fatoria, Umberto Grazia not only has great classic designs, but has also commissioned contemporary artists to do designs. Caveat emptor: if you don't buy what they have available and commission some dishes, it will be more than a year before you receive them. It's not food, but these dishes will make you food look fantastico!

                          1. I bought about every bag of Knorr instant white truffle risotto that my supermarket in Pavia had and brought them home (my suitcase smell like truffles for about 6 months). Cook and add some salt, pepper and Parmeggiano-Reggiano and my little apartment was reeking of Italy and truffles.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Chinon00

                              Ok, when i come back from home (ITALY) i bring back... Ovomaltina for my milk(parmalat), salame nostrano, Knorr truffle risotto and some others, local formagelle, Simmenthal, Tonno in olio d'oliva RIO MARE, Mayonnaise CALVE, Citrosodina, and some few other itmes i cannot post...

                            2. When I travel I like to buy local honey -- from a farmers market, not a store. Italy is particularly known for its chestnut honey. Take gallon ziplock bags -- they don't take up any space and you can put stuff in them to protect your suitcase from leakage or breakage.

                              1. San Marzano Tomatoes, even in cans you cant beat them.

                                1. Wine, wine and more wine. As far as stuff you actually have to chew, I have managed to smuggle dried hard sausage (wouldn't try it these days, though), and tightly-wrapped trays of almond and pistachio cookies from an abbey in Sicily. As much as I'd love to bring home all of the food that I possibly could, the reality is that much of it just wouldn't travel well. I usually end up bringing home more cookware, serving pieces and toiletry/cosmetic items than actual edibles.

                                  1. lots of dried porcini mushrooms!
                                    olive oil.
                                    truffle products.
                                    cheese from pienza.
                                    fun little candies and packaged treats you can't buy at home - some sort of hazelnut filled hippo that was sold in every grocery store made it home last summer. we also bought a jelly glass jar of nutella while there, snacked on it the whole time, then took our groovy little italian glass home!! these local grocery store treats make good cheap souveniers for kids...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: aspiringourmet

                                      look out for the hippos (chocolate filling beats the vanilla one) and the jars of nutellas in Italian delis. They do export them. When I can find them, I buy the hippos for my diabetic boyfriend, for emergencies when his blood sugar gets low. Although I think it makes him look forward to the threat of insulin shock more now...

                                    2. Rio Mare Extra Tonno with extra virgin olive oil. Delicious. And a word of warning: Fresh fruit and veg and all meat will be confiscated at customs. Cheeses and sweets are fine. Olive oil is a great souvenir, especially if you get a chance to visit the place where it's pressed. Olives too.
                                      Food adjacent things to get are coffee and espresso cups and coffee cups, espresso spoons.

                                      1. anyone mention Bacchi Chocolates yet - they sell them at the airport and they are delicious.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: smartie

                                          I think you mean Baci? From Perugia?

                                          1. re: tatamagouche

                                            sorry for the spelling! Actually just checked a bag I have in the pantry and they are called Bacetti (I guess little Baci).

                                            1. re: smartie

                                              Just making sure it wasn't something else named for Bacchus rather than kisses. :) Adore 'em too.

                                        2. I had a work friend tell me about her sister in law who used Italian broth cubes as part of her seasoning for almost anything savory, and swore that her food was wonderful. So I looked and looked in Italian stores and found some. I later found out it's an old grandma-trick to make things a little richer. And it's true. I grab the Star brand ones - I think the noun for the cubes is dadi - and I've found them mostly in chicken, occasionally in beef, and, to my immense delight in the Italian Market (?) neighborhood in South Philly, porcini mushroom flavor. The guy that sold them asked if I knew what I was doing, that they were really, really strong - and they are, but we love them and stretch them out as far as we can. I have not been able to persuade the local Italian grocers, to stock them, alas.

                                          1. Was about to reply when I realized the thread is almost two years old. This is a fun thread to keep going anyway.

                                            I still have with me a jar of miele di mandorlo (almond tree honey). The smell and taste are quite strong and very different from any other kinds of honey I have tried. I wish I brought back more than just one jar, but was glad that at least I didn't give it away as a souvenir.