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What food gifts do you bring when you travel?

Well, I'm sitting here waiting for the boarding call. I got to thinking what foods people bring as presents when they travel?
This trip to London is just a chance to touch base with family and friends and to eat. I have a case of Quebec Maple Syrup (No. 2 Medium), a couple of briskets of Montreal Smoked Meat from Schwartz's, beef jerky, a mixed case of beer from Unibroue and last but not least a bottle of Crown Royal XR.

What do you bring?

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  1. Depends on who I am visiting....my Dad in Michigan loves Vermont or NY maple syrup, my brother-in law in FL likes the apples from upstate NY; and mostly everyone gets my homemade strawberry, blueberry or raspberry jam.

    1. It depends on who it is...some of my people are not foodies or as food obsessed as I am. I love to take spices/seasoning blends which I like to make myself, liquors, regional produce & fish/seafood as I'm near the coast....Have a great trip!

      1. i usually try to bring something local to my area that isn't so easy to find in the place that i'm traveling to. when i lived in boston, i brought some east coast beers to my friend in washington. another time i was visiting texas and brought back to boston 2 chicken fried steaks and a few pounds of brisket for my sister and me. when visiting montreal, i would get bagels and chloe chocolate bars - i guess that was more of a food gift to bring back home though. now that i live in san francisco, i bring boxes of see's candies (more out of nostalgia than gourmet-ness) or bags of locally roasted coffee to my siblings on the east coast. it also depends if i'm checking luggage or not (so i can smuggle wine out of sf or shiner beer out of texas!).

        1. lol...olive oil and foie gras...I don't know why but we buy olive oil everywhere. I travel with large ziplock bags for that very purpose.

          1. Wha I bring depends on who I am seeing and how I am traveling. I hate the new airline rule about no liquids on carry-on!

            Recently made a quick trip to Ottawa - very quick. We brought duck confit (in a jar with lots of lovely duck fat, the only way to buy duck confit), 2 bottles of wine,Some Quebecois beer, steel-cut oatmeal, Quebecois cheeses, and Christmas baking. I also love bringing bagels and smoked meat. Yummy chocolate and caramel au fleur de sel products - spreads, desserts, chocolates. Beautiful boxes of chocolates, fresh croissant if we think they can be consumed immediately, a selection of raw milk cheeses for our friends in places where the cheese comes wrapped in plastic, devoid of flavour.

            When we travel, a significant part of our luggage is related to food. I spend a lot of time carting food product around.

            1. When I go to visit family in Singapore and Malaysia I always take Hershey's miniatures for the kids(they don't get Hershey's there), See's candies for the adults, and large 4lb bags of shell-on pistachios from Costco (the ones they get there aren't very good). I've taken Kraft macaroni and cheese before (for my cousin who tried it and loved it), Doritos, Flaming Hot Cheetos and Twizzlers. They get most everything there, but it's the brands we have here as opposed to the local/european/aussie brands they get there. I also take non-food items too.

              I always take the max amount of liquor I can -- either bought from Costco or duty free. Usually a tequila or something that is harder to find there.

              1. When we go visit the family in India, we bring pumpkin butter and pumpkin bread mix - I guess it's something uniquely American, because people always seem to really like it.

                1. To my family in Pennsylvania and Ohio we take cheeses from Wisconsin. I really feel bad for those people who haven't had the experience of a fresh cheese curd squeaking against their teeth.

                  To my father I take Trader Joe's French Truffles. He absolutely adores them. My mother gets Belgian Shells and honey.

                  Everyone gets homemade jelly and jam.

                  1. Well, all the family is now resident in the UK, so no need for food gifts (except I occasionallly dish out jars of home made chutney). But, in truth, even when members were living overseas, there's such a global market that it was never really worth taking stuff.

                    Within the various European countries, most things are comparitively easily available across borders (although folk visiting us from Mallorca would always bring sobrasada and the village produced olive oil. When we had family living in New York state, they used to buy Brit "must haves" mail order from a place in Ontario.

                    1. obviously I have to take the bloody heavy maple syrup - yes, I've also found people tend to prefer No. 2 Medium. Sometimes wild rice to Europe. You can take smoked meat to Britain? What would you suggest as a duty-free spirit (flying out of Montréal, towards Europe) that would be a crowd pleaser? Can't really afford XR.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: lagatta

                        Wild rice is easily available in British supermarkets. Dunno about other European countries.

                        As for maple syrup, it's usually No. 1 or No. 2 Medium (never a choice, just what they have in). Which is the better, by the way?

                        1. re: Harters

                          always, always go with No.2 medium John.

                          1. re: bigfellow

                            I agree with bigfellow, who is usually right and definitely so in this case.

                            I'll be going to northernish Europe soon - definitely Belgium (work) probably both Amsterdam and Paris for a few days each (semi-work, and seeing friends). I'm sure the friend I'd give wild rice to has never eaten it, and would like it. Other ideas?

                            1. re: lagatta

                              I think you'll find that wild rice is commonly available in our supermarkets in northern Europe. Maybe the friend will see your wild rice and raise you Camargue red rice?

                              1. re: Harters

                                Harters, that is definitely available in Montréal. Probably cheaper in France though.

                      2. For me I bring Alberta beef to the gang in Toronto and when I go back I load my suitcase with FANtastic Ontario cheddar and Jamaican patties from a little shop in Scarborough

                        1. OK this is not "chowish" at all but on the last trip I made back to see my family (Brooklyn NY) I bought a jar of red (beet) horseradish, all but impossible to find in the Bay Area where I live now. I can't eat gefilte fish with anything else. I'll bring it to this year's Seder, it should still be good. Heck, I might even get another jar when I go there next week. I just have to make sure I've got a fridge in the hotel where I travel to after that.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: rednails

                            I don't see why that isn't chowish. Sounds lovely, and exactly the kind of travelling gift that will be appreciated.

                            Do you ever have the whole fish? I was served that in Paris, boned by a kosher fishmonger, at the house of a French Jewish friend.

                            1. re: lagatta

                              Thanks for the validation. I just got back from my trip, and got 2 bottles to bring back. I kept them in my mom's fridge, and carefully wrapped them in bubble wrap and put them in my suitcase for my flight to Charleston. There was a fridge in my room so that worked out. I checked out of my hotel (a few days later) in the AM, had meetings all day, and the hotel kept my "contraband" (as I started calling it) in their fridge for me. I next flew to Atlanta and back into the suitcase they went, then into my niece's fridge. I flew home last night, and that was the longest time out of refrigeration, about 10 hours. I haven't unwrapped the package yet but it seems intact. Hopefully, all the time spent out of refrigeration didn't harm the quality. And of course, the package couldn't ever go into my carryon, it went into my checked luggage.

                              I've never had the whole fish, only the chopped/molded kind--homemade (my late grandmother's) and jarred. I've thought about making my own but trying to find the traditional kind of fish might be challenging. How was the whole fish seasoned/cooked? What kind of fish did they use? Sounds intriguing.

                              1. re: rednails

                                Carp. And stuffed with the chopped/moulded stuff inside. Forget the other details, but it was very tasty.

                          2. in the summer we go on cider tasting car trips (hard cider, ice cider, sparkling cider....) and we keep the products we liked in mind. When we travel, we buy a few of the products that we liked and take them as gifts, that way we can say: we tried this local product and thought you might like it.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: hala

                              Smoked salmon from Wa state..it's always appreciated.

                            2. If you visit me your can bring: ume, nori, Japanese rice, Japanese canned pickled vegetables, wasabi, dried mushrooms, smoked fish, jamon iberico de la pata negra, masaharina, dried corn husks, dried chiles, couscous, canned smoked eel, Parmigiano reggiano, bresiola, aged cheddar, dried African game meat, maple syrup, peanut butter, sauerkraut, ... and a can of Chef Boy-R-Dee ravioli.

                              1. am still devastated about no liquid in hand baggage. that puts an end to me bringing nice beers as gifts (but most importantly bringing new beers back for myself). used to bring cheeses to North America but got fed up with being searched, interrogated and held up for ages. no mas! now i only bring Haribo and stroopwafels.

                                recently i crossed the border into Chilean Patagonia from Argentina and it is the same there. it seems Chile only cares about you bringing food into the country.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Pata_Negra

                                  I do carry the two bottles of wine allowed in my checked baggage - sometimes it was organic beer when leaving from Amsterdam.

                                  I guess I could still carry stroopwafels, Haribo etc (which I don't eat). Stroopwafels aren't hard to find in Montréal but they seem dried out.

                                  I've given up on cheeses too, after having them confiscated although I had followed all the rules on the books when I read them just before my trip. Pity.

                                  1. re: lagatta

                                    By two bottles allowed are you referring to the Canadian bottle limit myth? I am always surprised how many confused the tariff free limit if two bottles with the real limit (which is somewhere north of 12 bottles as we have brought that many home). We paid $30 or $40 and we were through. Of course we STARTED with 19 bottles...lost two between Pisa and Marseille, three between Marseille and Heathrow and three between Heathrow and home! Packing bottles is an art we have not yet acquired.

                                2. Typically I take home canned goodies to family. What I take depends on who it is. But I bring home all kinds of things. I love to go food shopping in new locations and tend to buy things that I don't see at home or ingredients indigenous to a particular area. One time I left dirty clothes behind in order to fit more foodstuffs in the luggage.

                                  1. I bring pecans and dried cranberries to my relatives in Germany. Very 'merican.

                                    1. From home I bring local grits, BBQ, hot sauces and some Trader Joe's items if they aren't available at my destination.

                                      When I visit family in Florida I bring back Cuban bread, Cuban roast pork, a chicken tarragon salad from Publix and their breakfast bread, and seasonal produce which is often better quality and price than in NC. If the timing is right and cooler space is available I bring back seafood too.

                                      1. We're in Toronto and take frequent trips across the border to the USA.

                                        We'll bring Typhoo tea to our friend in Detroit since it's not available there (while it's easily found in every supermarket in Toronto).

                                        My mother in law loves Walkers brand Scottish shortbread which is not available where she is (Gulf Coast) other than by expensive mail-order, so we get her one of the large boxes from Costco or Loblaws.

                                        Coming home, definitely stop at Trader Joe's and Wegmans to stock up on stuff we can't get in Canada.

                                        1. Bison or elk products. This past summer I gather my own wild plums and chokecherries and made my own jellies and jam.