Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Gift Giving for Foodies

Over the Christmas season, there were a number of occasions that I had to give gifts to people that I felt I did not know well enough to get a personal gift.  Most times, it is easier to get a gift card and hope that you get it right. Giving me a Starbucks card because I love coffee might seem perfect but not necessarily if I am an activist or a coffee snob.

So, what about giving food?  Believe it or not, most people are not so thrilled with a 30g piece of dark chocolate with espelette pepper inside.  The exotic and profane that most foodies wish to receive are nightmares for people.  It is equivalent to receiving socks and underwear when you are six.

Homebaked cookies are making a comeback, as are canned goods.  One of the best gifts that I have received this season was a set of four canned goods that included port cranberry sauce and two different chocolate sauces.  My mother who finds pomegranates exotic received these from my sister as well.  The recipes were chosen as being standards with slight twists.  As a foodie giving a gift, you would do well to remember this.

The two gifts of food that I gave were a little different from each other.  One was a secret Santa gift that could be homemade or bought with a limit of twenty dollars.  It was for someone who was new at work and I didn't know very well.  I made some homemade truffles using sweetened condensed milk.  The recipe was split into threes and different flavourings were chosen for each; banana with coconut, rum rolled with caramel butter pecan cocoa mix and cherry rolled in almonds.  The balance of flavours was not as good as a chocolatier or chocolate maker but overall the texture was better than store bought.  A few touches personalized the gift and it seemed to be well received.  At least it did not receive the hidden six year old reaction.

The second gift was to my brother-in-law.  He has become more adventurous since marrying a woman of Portuguese descent.  It was hard to figure out what he had and did not have and so I decided that a consumable was the way to go.  I remembered that his sister my wife spoke many times about her brother's love of maple.  So, I went and put together a maple leaf themed basket.  It did not hurt that he liked the Maple Leafs, a hockey team in Toronto.

In went maple leaf cookies, maple sugar, maple sucker, maple syrup, and maple cheese.  A few more things went to round it out including a child's book, "The Hockey Sweater".  In return, I got a "You always think of good gifts."  For a foodie, it should be easy to give gifts that speak to the receiver without appearing as if you are acting superior.  A food does not have to be crushed by the feet of orangutans or defecated by civet cats in order to be good nor exotic.  It has to evoke memories and a good emotional response.  In the words of the mortal John Hodgman, 'That is all.'

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