If you plan to travel far and wide, or even closer to home with any frequency, you will soon realize that you don’t have the time, space or patience for typical travel trinkets and after a while most of your friends and family won’t either. Tiny made-in-China replicas of the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal or as I like to call them, dust-gatherers–most often end up crowding a curio or a bookshelf in some forgotten corner of your house or apartment.
That’s why after my years of experience traveling near and far, my preferred souvenirs are edibles and drinkables. There’s nothing nicer and less cluttery than a nice bottle of alcohol paired with cheeses, chocolates or cured meats that you can share with loved ones when you’re finally back home from a destination. You slurp, you nosh, and the souvenir conveniently disappears, no storage space required. Another consumable option for yourself or others are local varieties of tea, coffee, sugar or honey.
But, if you really feel the need to keep something from a particular location around, wine bottles make awesome upcycled candleholders, and the pretty cardboard and paper packaging from fancy sweets can be repurposed as jewelry boxes, or cut up and pasted into a collage or even used in scrap-booking. Decorated tins that once housed coffee or tea make attractive homes for sugar packets or even homemade cookies.
Suggested Edible and Drinkable Souvenirs, by Country (in Alphabetical Order)
Austria – White wines in general, Weissburgunder wines, Bergkäse cheese, pumpkin seed oil, Stiegl Beer, chocolate.
Czech Republic–Olomoucké syrečky stinky cheese, Czech beers (Pilsner Urquell, Budveiser, etc)
Denmark – cured sausages, Gamle Ole, Skaereost, Danablu and Havarti cheeses, pepper nut cookies, dark rye bread, Anton Berg chocolate, strongly-flavored salty liquorice, wine-flavored taffees, Beer, Danish-style Herb-flavored Schnappes, Mead.
England- Stilton, Cheddar and Bonchester cheeses, a wild and extensive variety of teas, Branston pickles, pickled walnuts, stout, hard cider, sweet biscuits, scones, dry gin
Midwesterner Abroad posts about England: London
Estonia – smoked cheeses, black rye bread, Vana Tallin herbal liquer and hard cider
Finland – unsweetened rye bread, lingonberry preserves, cloudberry liquer
Midwesterner Abroad posts about Finland: Helsinki
France – A world of cheese and wine awaits you in France. Go whole hog. The chocolate isn’t bad either.
Midwesterner Abroad posts about France: Paris
Germany – dry spätzle noodles, pickles, sauerkraut, mustard, horseradish, beer, white wine (Reisling and Silvaner), chocolate.
Holland– Bitters, Gouda, Leyden and Edam Cheeses, butter, metworst sausage, beer, Jenever (juniper-flavored liquer) and Advocaat (brandy cream not dissimilar to Bailey’s), pickles, liquorice
Hungary – paprika, paprika paste, csabai sausage, Hungarian style foie gras, palinka (fruit brandy), Tokaji (white dessert wine), Egri Bikaver (red wine)
Midwesterner Abroad posts about Hungary: Budapest
India – spices, tea, and coffee…oh my! Seriously, if you’re in India, don’t be an idiot. Stock up on the amazing variety of spices and tea available, and spring for some high-quality coffee, while you’re at it. Another tasty edible treat to take home (if you can find it packaged with an ingredient label) is Kaju katli, a cashew fudge, sometimes decorated with edible silver foil.
Italy – Parmesan, Sagrantino Wine (red), Prosecco (fizzy white wine), Limoncello (lemon liquer), Grappa, prosciutto ham, fancy hand-made pastas, dried porcini, preserved truffles (black and white), olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pecorino, preserved pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes packed in olive oil…
Mexico – Mexican chocolate and hot chocolate (sold in tablets) laced with cinnamon are a must. Another great thing to take home are the endless variety of dried and conserved chilis available, not to mention Mexican tequila, mezcal, and agave nectar.
Norway- Smoked salmon, fenalar (slow-cured lamb resembling prosciutto), morr smoked sausage, pickled herring, Jarlsberg Cheese, Pultost Cheese and Geitost (not exactly a cheese, a sweet and creamy product made from caramelized lactose from milk), mead.
Portugal– Vinho Verde, Porto, Serra da Estrela Cheese
Romania– Red and white wine (Feteasca, Grasa, Tamaioasa and Busuioaca), ţuică plum brandy, paprika, Telemea (a brined cheese similar to Feta).
Spain – Ribera del Duero and Rioja Red Wine, Penedés White Wine, Catalonian Cava, Tetilla Cheese (Gallicia), Manchego Cheese, Jamón iberico, jamón de jabugo, Chorizo, lomo adobado, saffron, olive oil, smoked Spanish paprika, Asturian Cider, Cabrales Cheese, anchovies packed in olive oil, olives.
U.S.A. – Barbecue sauce, maple syrup, artisan beers, wine, kosher dill pickles, Burger’s summer sausage, country ham, pecans, Dr. Pepper, Cherry 7up, Reeses pieces, peanut butter, jalepeño kettle chips……
Midwesterner Abroad Posts about U.S.A.: Joplin
DISCLOSURE: Country links go to their official government tourism sites and the links to edible and drinkable souvenirs are Amazon affiliate links. If you click them and end up buying something from Amazon, you pay the same price as you would anyway, but I receive a small commission. This is a great way to return the love if you’ve enjoyed my this post or my blog in general.