Food gifts have always been common and welcome, especially when well-made foods are hard to obtain due to a war or a global economy. By the same token, souvenirs can be thoughtful and useful, despite what is sold to most tourists in almost every place I’ve ever visited. I have been reminded of this recently, as we just spent the weekend down in Devon, which is beautiful and full of beautiful villages. I did have a few people I wanted to bring things back for, mostly family members, but I didn’t want to spend enormous amounts of money on kitschy things that no one will use.
I was lucky, being in Devon, because I was able to buy locally produced artisan jams and chutneys. I also picked up some yummy apple cider vinegar for my salads. When I brought them home, people oohed and ahhed because they were genuinely excited about receiving ploughman’s chutney (who wouldn’t be, really?). Seriously though, small batch jams and chutneys taste infinitely better than what you get off of the grocer’s shelf, and people are usually happy to have that kind of a treat.
My father did something similar when he recently gave us some vanilla from a vanilla plantation he visited in Hawaii, and we use it every time we bake. It is the same way with the jar of honey that we got from a friend. We have also gotten coffee from local plantations and dried herbs from local nurseries. Of course, locally-made candy is also something we’ve gotten and given frequently.
There are any number of reasons that small gifts of locally-made foodstuffs are ideal. First of all, they are more useful than most other gifts offered in tourist shops, with the exception possibly of tea towels and coffee mugs. Secondly, when foodstuffs are locally-made, the money you spend is staying in the local economy. Thirdly, locally-made foodstuffs tend to support traditional foodcrafts that are being pushed out by a one-size-fits-all approach to the food economy. Lastly, it tends to be easier to find GF things when they are small-batch and locally-made. For instance, most chutneys sold in large grocery stores are not GF because they rely on cheap malt vinegar; however, it is possible to find GF chutneys and pickles in local food markets.
What more can you ask for from a souvenir? Now, I am going to go use my jam for a GF cream tea…