In a recent survey on our FB group, we asked what are the most common gifts the women of our community bring back home from their host countries.

 

The result has been quite interesting because the vast majority has shared the fact that the choice falls on local food. Some would maintain that this is not a surprise since most of the answering women are Italian, but we would like to break the stereotype and simply think that our women are open to the joys of discovering new food, and find it so great that they decide to offer it as presents.

Let’s see what our community buys in terms of local specialties before going back home.

From Germany, Pretzels – how could they miss? This type of crunchy bread soft inside, with a twisted shape and sprinkled with salt is very characteristic of Germany, and probably difficult to find elsewhere with that fresh taste that its home country confers.

 

 

Tea is chosen as a gift both in London and Kenya, whereas Indonesia offers the most peculiar of coffees, the Luwak coffee. If you are thinking of the classical coffee beans collected from the plant and put directly to dry, you couldn’t be more wrong. Luwak coffee owns its fame (and its high price!) to being digested by a little furry and lovely animal called Luwak (I guess it’s the equivalent of a mongoose). Apparently this process gives the coffee seeds a delicious taste.

 

 

Pakistan offers perfumed, colourful and tasty spices, while in Azerbaijan you should not miss saffron as a gift. Apparently some of the territories in the country are absolutely perfect for saffron cultivation and yield the best quality of this spice which is so appreciated all over the world.

As for fruits, we find three different ideas: dates from Saudi Arabia, dehydrated mango from Colombia (I could not explain myself why specifically dehydrated mango from that country, and then I found this (https://levelground.com/farmers/fruit/), and Amarula from South Africa. This called my attention because I actually tasted Amarula once, at some Mozambican friends’, and loved it. Amarula is a liquor cream made with the fruit of the Marula tree, also called the Elephant tree because elephants are apparently attracted by its intense scent and travel long distances to get to it.

I was also already familiar with the stroopwafels that are given as gifts from expats in Holland, because I had tasted the delicious soft biscuits in Amsterdam. However, I did not know that Wilhelmina peppermints are also very typical (and they come in all sorts of packaging!).

Wine is a must from Argentina, while chocolate seems to be widespread in many countries, from Bali to Guatemala, passing by Italy.

Sticky rice from Laos was also mentioned, though I am a bit puzzled here, I did not know there is a specific kind of rice for that recipe, and that you can’t easily find elsewhere. What happens sometime though, is that we become so addicted to the food of our host countries, that we want to share them and reproduce them whenever we go back home. And what better gift is there than sharing with our friends the patrimony of culinary tastes and habits we have discovered?

 

Claudia Landini
Jakarta, Indonesia
April 2018
Photos: Pixabay
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