Let Your Taste Buds Take You Back

Just this past week, one of our good friends in Italy commented to me that he felt one of the best ways to get to know a culture or a people is through their cuisine. I couldn't agree more. In fact, when we travel, I make it a point to eat local delicacies... a full-blown parilla in Buenos Aires, tiritas in Zihuatanejo or geschnitzel mit roesti in Zurich. Mmmm... geshnitzel.

OK... my mind and taste buds are wandering. Anyway, he made a very good point. In fact, not only can you enjoy local cuisine while on a trip, you can bring that local cuisine home with you. For example, during our July trip to Zihuatanejo, I made it a point to pick up a 750 gr bag of sea salt for a mere 30 pesos. You read that right... 1 1/2 pounds of sea salt for about $3.00. While in Paris, we saw 1 kilo bags of fleur de sel French sea salt for under 2 Euros. To me, using food products from another country make it easy to relive memories from a trip over and over. Just this week, we started a meal by cracking open a jar of locally grown olives we purchased in Milos, Greece. Tonight, I seasoned a batch of broccolini with a bit of fleur de sel de Camargue purchased in France.

You get the picture... so, here are some of the culinary items we've purchased during some of our trips to spark some ideas on what to pick up on your next trip:

  • A jar of chimichurri herbs in Buenos Aires
  • Wine in Italy, Greece, Spain, Argentina and, yes, even Canada.
  • Local spirits like Nocino or Amaro d'Abruzzese in Italy and local rum in Gran Canaria
  • Chocolates in Switzerland, Belgium and in Bariloche, Argentina
  • Parmigiano in Italy
  • Shrimp seasoning in New Orleans
  • Maple syrup in Quebec
  • Lizano salsa in Costa Rica
  • Rosa mosqueta in Bariloche, Argentina
  • Oils in Italy and Spain
  • Red salsa mojo in Gran Canaria
  • Delicacies in the food halls at Harrod's in London
  • Bricks of Lavazza espresso coffee in Italy
Seek out a local grocery store, take a look at various local products, particularly those that don't look familiar and pick out a few to take home. Just make sure you're not bringing back anything that might get you on the wrong side of customs. Soft cheeses, packages of prosciutto, foie gras, etc... a quick look a the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol page will shed some light on what can't be brought back.

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