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what food/cooking related gift to give a european (who has everything?!)

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Hi chowhounders! My friend who is living in the US from Germany is going home to visit her parents next week. Her mother loves to cook and bake and she wants to bring her something we have in the US that maybe Europe wouldn't have (haha hard task I know) We wandered around Sur La Table yesterday and nothing jumped out at me.

What do you think is a good gift idea to bring to a European? Either cookware, food items, or whatever else related you can think of. I hope I posted this in the right board.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. You might have an easier time finding serious teas in the US than Germany. In the SF Bay Area, Red Blossom and Teance are good places to start. (Do check that the receipients have the rioght tea-brewing paraphenalia, if not you could also gift that too if you're generous.)

    The other possibility is of course American wines.

    1. Off the top of my head I'd say perhaps some jams/butters featuring American ingredients, such as Wild Blueberry Jam or Pumpkin Butter. Or maybe a small collection of American hot sauces--these things would likely get through customs (but always check first). If the friend's mother can speak English, then a regional American cookbook and a set of American measuring cups. If not, scratch that suggestion. Perhaps a pretty ceramic pie plate with a recipe for apple pie (translated into German, if necessary!) and any measuring cups/spoons in American measurements. My German relatives have enjoyed pie when they visit, because it is so quintessentially American. The plate will, of course, have to be wrapped well to avoid breakage, but it shouldn't be too heavy (another consideration, given weight limits on baggage).

      ETA: I just looked at a couple of website (e.g. Sur La Table, Willaims-Sonoma) and the pie plates seem to be more "french", such as Emile Henry, which sort of negates the American-ness of the gift. But I know I've seen such plates with Apple Pie designs/motifs. Perhaps this is something more likely to be found in a Target or Wal-Mart. A pie shield and/or pie vent would be a nice addition.
      Also, for some reason, Halloween is becoming more popular in Germany (according to the rellies). Maybe some cookie cutters in Halloween designs?

      1. Good question and, I think, probably already answered.

        The gift we bring back for ourselves from America is always a cookbook from the state (s) we've visited but its dependent on the rellie reading good English.

        Other than that, as limster's suggestion, we'd appreciate an American wine from a specialist vineyard (not the mass produced Californian export stuff). At least Mrs H would appreciate it - I don't drink.

        1. I saw a set of 3 Microplane graters yesterday in Homesense for 25$Can. Now Microplanes are available in Germany but SFAIA they are not common there and cost two to three times as much.
          amazon.de does not have amco citrus squeezers - just a thought.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Paulustrious

            It's possible that Microplane are not common in Germany - but probably are (and certainly readily available in the UK and the Netherlands). I woul,d not be without my "Good Grips" one.

          2. Germans love cabbage...but not many have tried Kim Chee. Maybe some Kim Chee and a recipe to make it? Translated, of course.

            My husband lived in Germany for years and he said that they love anything with a cowboy/western theme. Having lived in Wyoming, I can attest to that! German tourists were crazy for cowboy hats, cowboy sheets, cowboy plates, cowboy dutch ovens. No kidding! Cowboy tablecloth? Tea towels?

            I found this site that may help...http://www.westerncowboyhorsedecor.co...

            1 Reply
            1. re: melly

              She may love this cookbook too http://www.amazon.com/Trail-Bosss-Cow...

            2. A friend in Paris has me bring him the giant-size bags of chocolate chips you can get in warehouse stores. He is famous in his circle for baking chocolate chip cookies - having lived in the US as a trainee and learned to make them here. Apparently French chocolate chopped up doesn't do the trick, and choc chips are v expensive there.

              8 Replies
              1. re: buttertart

                Oh, good idea. My cousin took some back to Germany after visiting here because she fell in love with chocolate chip cookies!

                1. re: buttertart

                  Oh you took my idea! Chocolate chips are a quintessential American ingredient, and almost impossible to get outside the US.

                  Or how about...http://www.spoon.com/ Great products, very "American" but I think just about anyone would like them.

                  1. re: lulubelle

                    Interesting. I was just at a local shop that caters to the American student by selling

                    * Chocolate chips (£3.15!!!!)
                    * Bisquick
                    * Reeses Peanut butter cups
                    * Jif peanut butter and also fluff
                    * Blueberry muffin mix
                    * Goldfish crackers
                    * refried beans (one tin goes for £2)

                    I think that purchases depend upon what someone craves and what is available in their area. I know that sounds feeble, but people in big cities do have more options so one of the questions to consider here is: Where in Germany? Bochum or Berlin?

                    1. re: Lizard

                      I live in Asia and have privileges at the American Commissary. Pretty much all I buy is chocolate chips and frozen White Castles.

                      1. re: Lizard

                        Why Bochum? As representative of the German boondocks? Big industrial center, no?

                        1. re: buttertart

                          Yes, industrial. Not really known for its culinary cosmopolitan-ness '-)

                          1. re: linguafood

                            It amused me, have handled the shipment of untold scads and oodles of machinery from there in the past.

                      2. re: lulubelle

                        And supply a recipe converted into metric (seems to me the King Arthur Flour onesare also given in metric - or a set of US measuring cups and spoons with a US measurement recipe.

                    2. I am a Brit living in Fl and I bring back American cereals that they can't get in England such as Cap'n Crunch and Fruit Loops, anything with blueberries such as jam, grape jelly, cookies, Poppycock. To be honest most things can be bought in England but I don't know about Germany.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: smartie

                        Funny you should mention blueberry jam. I always bring back some from France. The "Bonne Maman" brand is a good seller in the UK but I can't find the blueberry here. Makes for a nice change but very very sweet.

                        1. re: Harters

                          Sweet compared to everything else on offer in the UK? Goodness, that would mean instant diabetes.

                      2. I would suggest maple syrup (the good one!). It's not something that Europeans can find easily.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: blue bike

                          I was about to suggest that! Actually, last time we went to the Netherlands we asked for any requests from the states & maple syrup was specifically requested. :)

                          1. re: blue bike

                            really? I never had a problem finding a reasonable selection of maple syrup in London but then that was London.

                            1. re: smartie

                              Never had a problem finding a reasonable selection in Stockport either.

                              Usually a bog standard Canadian one on the main shelves and more on the "special selection" shelves.

                              I'd have thought if we can get it in our smallish borough of some 300,000 people, you can get it pretty much anywhere in the UK. Of course, the Americanisation may be greater here than in Germany.

                          2. Being a Minnesotan I often give visitors Wild Rice (manoomen) that has been canoe harvested, as it tastes different than the farmed "wild rice" they have now. Also, there is a lot of history to the plant and importance to Native Americans, so it does seem to be a particularly American food. Note that the wild-harvested variety needs much less cooking time and is softer.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Jitterbug

                              This sounds like a great idea to me but I have fed good wild rice to French people and they did not like it AT ALL (and were not shy about saying so, good friends),

                            2. How about a really good boxed brownie mix? (l think Ghirardelli brand is excellent). We've found that when we have friends or relatives visiting us from Germany they really seem to love brownies when we have them. Brownies and chocolate chip cookies are so quintessentially American! You could bring them a couple boxes of brownie mix and then also the ingredients for a homemade brownie recipe as well (along with American measuring utensils). There are a lot of really good ideas posted on this thread!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: schmoopy

                                It's very true, brownies are very big in Europe. I sent some homemade ones (Nick Malgieri's Suoernatural Brownies, my favorite recipe) to colleagues in Germany and they loved them.

                              2. I heartily second the maple syrup, chocolate chip and brownie ideas. Personally, I'd also be thrilled with a selection of spice mixes with connections with the various American cuisines -- barbecue-style, Cajun/Creole, TexMex, chili mixes (I'd be delighted to receive a large bag of chipotles, but that may just be me).

                                If you've got access to some good American-style sourdough bread that keeps well, that could be worth trying for comparison. Nuts travel well, and it seems to my paranoid mind that us Europeans get seriously shafted on stuff like pecans and macadamias.

                                Generally speaking, what I like the best when I'm travelling is to enter a well-stocked supermarket and pick up anything that travels well that I've never seen before, no matter how small. Spices, teas, chocolates and dried beans for preference. In my experience, upscale cooking stores are much the same wherever you go, selling the same brands, and you avoid the problem of buying something that your friend's mother might easily find in the closest big city at home, and probably at a cheaper price.

                                One thing: Ask your friend if her mother would be interested in a hamburger press.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Alshain

                                  I think Alshain might have hit on it.

                                  I would love to get a selection of spice mixes from the US. Of course, we can get some mixes here (I usually have a Cajun in the cupboard) - but I have real way of knowing how correct the flavourings are. Something coming from America is likely to be more "authentic" (although please don't fall out amongst yourselves at what "authentic" BBQ might be :-0 )

                                2. You guys are absolutely amazing! Thank you for taking the time to help. I forwarded her the GREAT ideas you all gave! :)

                                  1. Sorta big but a Weber Smokey Joe (the table top size) might be a good gift. I have no idea if Germans BBQ or have a similar thing but it would be different..perhaps some grilled brats? Not expensive, unless they charge you extra to bring it. There might be a way to break it down out of the box and pack it with regular luggage.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: ML8000

                                      A German friend asked me to get one of those for her husband's birthday one year. It seems they are quite expensive over there. V good suggestion if size is not a problem.