December 20, 2011 - Posted by Erin in Food and wine, Madrid, Spain, Travel


I knew l’d like my latest guest poster, Lauren. After all, she hails from the US, is married to a Spaniard, and loves Spanish food with the same unconditional passion as yours truly. With that in mind, she and I decided to swap guest posts this week, waxing poetic about none other than our not-so-secret love affair with our adopted cuisine. Once you’re done working up your appetite here, be sure to stop by her blog, Spanish Sabores, to read my post about holiday foods you should plan to pig out when visiting Spain during the winter.

As Christmas draws near, I once again find myself struggling to buy last minute gifts for friends and family. After traveling back and forth from Spain for almost three years now, the pretty fans, colorful ceramics, and cute flamenco aprons just won’t cut it anymore. So what do you do when you run out of gift ideas but your loved ones expect something Spanish? Resort to food gifts– and trust me, no one will complain!

Spain is full of potential food souvenirs. In fact, Spaniards themselves often bring a famed food from their town or region when visiting family and friends. Whether it is a homemade blood sausage, some marinated olives, or cookies and pastries made by the nuns in the local convent, Spaniards love giving food gifts.

So what can a visitor to Spain take back as a gift? Here are my five suggestions for delicious food gifts that will have friends and family wanting to hop the next flight to Spain!

Note: Unfortunately, as an American, my list cannot include any of Spain’s delicious pork products. Individuals are currently not allowed to transport sausage, ham, or other meat products into the United States. For more information about what you can and cannot bring into the US see this page.

5 Delicious Food Gifts from Spain

1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Did you know that Spain is the number one producer of olive oil in the world? Every year the country produces a variety of different olive oils that vary in taste and texture. Pop in to any supermarket and be prepared to see a wide selection.

2. Pimentón de la Vera: Pimentón is the Spanish word for paprika, and the most famous comes from La Vera in Cáceres, Spain. But if Cáceres is not a part of your itinerary, don’t worry, most supermarkets and specialty shops carry this coveted spice. Pimentón de la Vera comes in three types: sweet, semi-sweet, and hot. It adds an amazing smoky flavor and a nice orange-red color to Spanish dishes.

3. Artisan Honey: I never realized how many honey varieties there were until I came to Spain. Here you can find flavors like rosemary, thyme, lemon and orange. There is creamed honey, honey with nuts inside, and honeycomb. Different regions compete each year to be called the best honey in Spain.

4. Marzipan Sweets: Marzipan sweets are made primarily of almonds and sugar. They are most famous in Toledo, where each shop has its own special recipe, but you can find them sold all over Spain. A box of marzipan makes a delicious gift, and the sweets are also quite beautiful to look at!

5. Red Wine: Spain is the third largest producer of wine in the world and has several excellent wine regions. My favorite is the Ribera del Duero region in Castile and León. A good bottle of Spanish wine can be found for around 10€, making it worth your while to bring back a few bottles.

So forget about the shot glasses and T-shirts you were planning to buy and try the supermarket or (even better) local market instead. You’ll have some great, unique gifts and your family and friends will get a real taste of Spain!

12 comments

12 Responses to “Guest post: 5 food gifts to bring back from Spain”

  1. Madrileño Says:

    A red wine wonderfull,Hito C 21 Ribera de el duero, year 2008… I think!,I’ll buy it, in M Madrueño Postigo de San Martín street near Callao, a site lovely… I recommend it

  2. Kaley [Y Mucho Más] Says:

    Good post! I definitely agree with all of them. Weirdly enough, there is a brand of olive oil sold at Carrefour that I love – Arbequina. My grandma took some home with her, too.

  3. Kaley [Y Mucho Más] Says:

    I realize it sounds as though I think Arbequina is a brand. I know it is an olive. Hahaha, just wanted to not sound like a doofus.

  4. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures Says:

    Ummm olive oil! I can’t get into Marzipan though…

  5. Lauren of Spanish Sabores Says:

    I only just got into Marzipan after trying it in Toledo– I never liked it before! I liked the ones that had the whole almonds inside… very sweet!

  6. Erin Says:

    I’ve grown to love marzipan! Especially the one covered in piñones (pine nuts). Every time I go to Toledo, a purchase is fundamental!

  7. Cassandra Says:

    I was shocked by the honey options when I first came to Spain, and brought back a herb-infused one when my study abroad semester came to a close.

    I’d never heard of pimenton de la vera! I’ve bought regular ‘ole pimenton, but I’ll have to give this other one a go in 2012.

  8. Status Viatoris Says:

    I would also add Turrón to the list, the bog-standard hard stuff is my absolute favourite (although my teeth don’t thank me for it!) but Turrón de Jijona is also delicious, as well as being impossible to find in most other countries. Oh bother, I’m absolutely starving now!

    Feliz Año 2012 a todos desde Italia!

  9. Erin Says:

    I actually mentioned turrón in my post over at http://www.spanishsabores.com (as if I could leave it out!). Since we were both covering similar topics, we didn’t want to duplicate….although, really, turrón is probably worth duplicating. My holidays have been dismal without it!

  10. Lauren of Spanish Sabores Says:

    Agreed! I’m still pigging out on turrones here at the in-laws house… my pants hardly fit!!!

  11. Karen McCann Says:

    Great post! Living in Seville, I would add saffron to the list, as it’s far less expensive in Andalucia and my foodie California friends really enjoy it. In fact, the gift of saffron often leads to a paella party featuring the red wine, olive oil and other Spanish treats I’ve brought back. A win-win scenario.

  12. Erin Says:

    Good suggestion, Karen!

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