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Jan 16, 2010 08:07 PM

What food and food related items to bring back from Mexico

Leaving for Puerto Vallarta in a couple of weeks. What would you bring back with you, vanilla beans, dried chile peppers? Anything at all?

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  1. Vanilla extract (the POSA brand is natural vanilla, but do not buy PASA artificial vanilla. Plus, as you said, vanilla beans, dried chiles, also mole powder or pastes. You might be able to buy Salsa Chapala in Vallarta; it's really excellent bottled table salsa, exactly the same as Salsa Cholula but less than a quarter of the price.


    1. These are the items I've routinely brought back

      Jamacia flowers
      Beans (dried)
      Dried chiles I easily can't source where I live (this site - has tons of recipes for many different varieties of chiles, including some of the less common ones
      )Posole corn
      mole paste or powder
      Chocolate that isn't Abuelita or Ibarra
      Corn husks for making tamales
      Sal de grano (salt)
      Dried Mexican oregano
      Dried avocado leaves
      A lime squeezer
      A tortilla press
      A comal (bring 2 back, 1 will break)
      Tequila or mezcal
      Mexican wine

      Declare any food products you bring back the policy is pretty liberal and you don't really need to smuggle. Customs will ask what you're carrying when they see the food listed, and you may get diverted for a secondary ag inspection depending upon where you clear US cusoms. I think it's better these days to get inspected than to go into the government computers as a smuggler ;-). Generally, dried, canned, bottled or otherwise preserved items are usually not a problem. Fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and cheese are not advisable.

      3 Replies
      1. re: DiningDiva

        Great list, Dining Diva. When I posted last night, it was late and I thought, "I'll add to this tomorrow." You did all the work! Terrific!


        1. re: cristina

          I figured your poor little fingers were too frozen to type ;-).

          1. re: DiningDiva

            That too. At least it is warmer tonight...we may thaw out here in Sunny Mexico and live to see another day. Friends report that it snowed in Guadalajara two days ago...briefly, but just sayin'.


      2. Xtabentun
        small batch mezcal
        chaya leaves
        tuna stuffed jalapenos
        fresh annatto seed (achiote)
        be on the lookout for green glazed cazuelas from Michoacan, hand glazed plates from Tlalpan

        1. Where do live,where you'll be bringing things back to? I ask because there are a huge number of things once only available in Mexico which are easily found in many USA cities/states. I can't think of anything I'd look for to bring home that I can't purchase in Chicago.

          3 Replies
          1. re: gomexico

            I usually buy dried chiles in local markets - when I'm cooking it makes me happy to remember where and when I got them. Also, chipotles en adobo in small glass jars from the super mercado - I've never found them in jars in the US, and they're much more practical for me than the little cans where I always have odd amounts left over.

              1. re: maxandrick

                Given the relatively miniscule Mexican population in Toronto and Canada generally - I understand now why you'd want to bring back what you can. ;-)

            1. From Puerto Vallarta I would get Raicilla, or some tequilas not available in the US. Although there are so many brands available in the states, there are even more only available in Mexico. I find these bottles all the time. Some great high-end tequilas that are very expensive in the US are smart buys at the Duty Free, especially in the DF airport, if passing through. For me it's almost always booze.