Food as souvenirs – Popular choices from around the world

At the end of a great holiday to a far-flung destination, you inevitably bring back souvenirs of the place you visited, to remind you of your time there or as gifts for friends and family. One of the most exciting types of souvenirs is an edible one, which captures the essence of the city or country you visited.

Turkey is an exciting destination if you travel abroad. The capital, Istanbul, is a riot of colours, smells and tastes that are exotic to the European palate. Of course, whilst here, you have to try the many varieties of Turkish Delight, called lokum in Turkey. It is made with thickened milk or fruit syrup and dusted with powdered sugar, often with dry nuts added.

Some of the individual recipes have the delicacy made from grape syrup with walnuts and pistachios added. It is flavoured with rose water, mint, fruit or spices. Many different stalls sell it, as well as speciality shops, which will offer you a large variety to try for yourself. Do yourself a favour and visit these shops, rather than buying the lokum from a supermarket or the airport duty free shops.

Originally made by the Ottomans to aid digestion after meals, this confectionary lasts for up to three months and is very easy to transport home from Turkey. As a result it is one of the most popular souvenirs of that country. It is a very welcome gift to your friends and family and promises to give them a taste of the country itself.

New Zealand is the land of the long white cloud, flightless kiwi birds and the delicious kiwi fruit. This fruit originated in China and was first propagated in New Zealand in the first decade of the 20th Century. It was first exported to England in 1952. Although it is not easy to transport a whole fruit across international borders, there are many delicious products containing these fruits.

Kiwi fruit jam is very popular and easy to make, with pineapple juice or other tropical fruit juice added. Chocolates containing kiwi fruit are also available throughout New Zealand. Other products include kiwi fruit tea and biscuits. This fruit is not only great-tasting; it also contains many vitamins (especially Vitamin C), flavonoids, minerals and has high fibre content.

Anyone who has enjoyed a stay in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, will know the city has a charm all of its own. Haggis is a sought after delicacy in this country and its national dish; although it sounds unappetising, it is richly flavoured and unique in taste. It consists of sheep’s offal, namely the windpipe, lungs, heart and liver, which is boiled and minced. Beef suet and lightly roasted oatmeal are added and this mixture is then stuffed inside a sheep’s stomach.

The haggis is boiled for a few hours and can also be cooked in the oven. Some companies in Edinburgh also export haggis to anywhere in the world. It has been eaten in Scotland since at least the early fifteenth century and probably originated some centuries before that in central Europe. Some restaurants in Edinburgh also produce a vegetarian haggis.

The Edinburgh Black Bun is a very rich, dark fruit cake containing raisins, currents, finely chopped peel, brown sugar, chopped almonds, cinnamon and ginger. It is usually made well in advance for Hogmanay (New Year) and is similar to Christmas pudding. Its origins date back to early Norse and Saxon traditions.

The popular holiday destination of Brighton in Sussex serves mainly traditional English food, with a smattering of restaurants from all over the world. A few bakeries and speciality stores specialise in shortbread, a traditional Scottish delicacy. Made with white flour, sugar and butter, it is a light, crumbly biscuit with a rich, unique flavour. Many recipes add interesting ingredients such as thyme and other fresh herbs.

This seaside town is also known for its excellent vegetarian and vegan restaurants. Even non-vegetarians will enjoy the flavourful dishes developed and produced by the best restaurants. Some of the best-tasting vegetarian souvenirs include interesting vegetarian jams and sauces; perhaps one of the chefs will share his unique recipe with you as the ultimate souvenir.

Australia might be the land down under and many hours’ flight from Europe, but their unique way of life and interesting food make it worth a visit. Bush food is becoming popular once more; this means living off the land where fauna and flora are concerned. This includes eating moths, grubs and various seeds and fruits.

Iconic Australian foods that will make great gifts back home include Vegemite, a thick salty spread made from yeast extract and vegetables, similar to Marmite and eaten on toast or used as a stock to flavour dishes. It was first developed in 1922 using the brewer’s yeast discarded after the process of making beer. It is rich in Vitamin B and contains no fat or added sugar.

Tim Tams are chocolate biscuits sandwiched together with chocolate spread and then dipped in melted chocolate. These are easy to transport and will be much sought after once you get home. First produced in 1964, they were named after the winning horse in the 1958 Kentucky Derby, as attended by the developer of the biscuit, Ian Norris of Arnott’s.

The Haigh’s Chocolate Company has been producing wonderful chocolates since 1915. Their chocolate frogs and freckles are top-selling in Australia, but it is their gift boxes with handmade truffles and other chocolates that are very much sought after locally and abroad. Australian wines are of excellent quality and will also be appreciated as gifts back home.

Many of these edible souvenirs are unique to their particular country and can be found nowhere else. Although some are available elsewhere in the world, there is nothing as authentic as to purchase them in their country of origin and unpack them with your tales of travel once you are back home.