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What spices would you bring back from Mexico? (moved from Ontario board)

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I'm currently in Guanajuato, Mexico and returnining home shortly.
I'm wondering what spices you would recommend to bring home that are not readily available in Toronto.
I bought some Tajine spice and am planning to get some vanilla beans.
Any other recommendation?

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  1. Piloncillo? Epazote? Achiote? I can never have enough vanilla or beans in my luggage. Sigh, now you've made me want to go pull out the tortilla press. (do you have one? If you can find a wooden one, I found I prefer it to my metal one, but they take up lots of luggage space.)

    1. Last year I bought home a big package of achiote paste (which I never used - but I WILL!) and a mess of different dried chiles (some of which I used).

      1. Are there any spices commonly sold in Mexico that aren't also sold on the Mexican spice rack in groceries in the USA and Canada? And be ware of buying quantities that you won't use up before the go stale.
        http://www.mexgrocer.com/catagories-s...
        shows some herbs that are sold in 2 oz cello packages.

        1. Mole paste, preferably Majordomo.

          2 Replies
          1. re: chocolatetartguy

            I usually buy a variety of dried chiles in the market and slip a note with the name of each type of chile into each bag (to avoid confusion once I'm ready to cook!). I also like to get little jars of chipotles en adobo - I can only find them in cans in the U.S., and being able to get just the amount I need out of a jar is nice and convenient.

            1. re: chocolatetartguy

              I agree with chile pastes and mole pastes - so much human toil sold by the kilo, and nice and fresh. I can't think of any spices from Mexico that can't be found stateside. Items that are fresh in Mexico but scarce stateside include chaya and huitlacoche - enjoy them there. Xtabentun, a delightful anise- honey liqueur, is inexpensive in parts of Mexico, and hard to find at any price in the states. Excellent small batch mezcals can be sleuthed out in Guanajuato.

            2. Not a spice, but Oaxacan chocolate. I sampled and decided La Soledad was my fave when I visited. The one with almonds and one with vanilla are particularly delish! I do use it to make Mexi hot cocoa, but also grate it into taco meat and chili.
              http://www.vivaoaxacafolkart.com/Gall...

              7 Replies
              1. re: kattyeyes

                Mexican oregano?

                http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzey...

                1. re: Rella

                  I'd bet money you didn't mean to reply to me, but it's a funny coincidence because I'm a huge Penzey's fan, too. Yes to Mexi oregano and epazote--I get both from Penzey's. :)

                  1. re: kattyeyes

                    I really like these two spices. Even if the recipe doesn't call for them, I sometimes add either per my own judgment.

                2. re: kattyeyes

                  Did you try Mayordomo?

                  1. re: chocolatetartguy

                    Yes, I tasted my way right down Calle Mina (a.k.a. Chocolate Street) when I went to Oaxaca. The shops had little tasting spoons like you'd get for an ice cream sample, and sample I did! :)

                    ETA: more info here if you haven't been and want to go:
                    http://www.vivaoaxacafolkart.com/oaxa...

                    1. re: kattyeyes

                      I'm so going to Oaxaca!!!
                      Calle Mina sounds heavenly...

                      1. re: stargazercd

                        :) You will love it!

                        One last suggestion now that you've got the bug to get to Oaxaca! I never took cooking classes there (or anywhere, for that matter), but met Susana Trilling at a chocolate dinner--yes, you heard that right--she developed for Day of the Dead in Manhattan. Since you mentioned cooking classes, you might want to add this to your wish list. It's on mine for someday, too.

                        http://seasonsofmyheart.com/

                3. Thank you everyone for your advice.
                  Now I'm home and my pantry has these new additions:
                  Oaxacan chocolate and Mexican chocolate - for making hot chocolate and champurado
                  Tajin spice mix
                  Mexican oregano
                  ancho chili
                  pasilla chili
                  chipotles en adobo
                  vanilla
                  and an assortment of Mexican sweets.
                  My suitcase was too full to bring more goodies ;-(
                  Since we decided to go back to Guanajuato next winter, I'll do more Mexican cooking classes and learn to use other spices mentioned by all of you.
                  Muchas Gracias...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: stargazercd

                    That's a great haul! Thanks for teaching me something new, too. I'll share since I googled:

                    Champurrado:
                    http://mexicanfood.about.com/od/bebid...

                    Piloncillo:
                    http://www.slashfood.com/2006/09/10/w...

                    I wasn't familiar with either of those, but do have a molinillo--though I usually use the blender. ;) Enjoy your goodies!

                  2. Well, you're already back, but whenever I go to Mexico, I have to bring back chiles I can't get (or not very easily) here. Chiles pasillas de Oaxaca (they're not the same as the regular ones!), chiles chiihuacle (yellow, red and black), chiltepin, chilcostle...

                    1. When we lived in the southwest, we always brought back bottles of Mexican vanilla for ourselves and a gaggle of friends.