You don't have to be a foodie to appreciate a tasty treat or excellent entree. A love of good food is something most of us share, and giving the gift of food is an effective way to show your good taste and knowledge of that special person on your gift list. The key to giving food, gourmet or otherwise, is in understanding the recipient. The finest Almas caviar or Indonesian Kopi Luwak coffee will be lost on someone who hates fish eggs and drinks tea, so before you explore the world of fine comestibles, do a little homework to make sure you're giving the best to someone who'll appreciate it.
Although saffron is probably the most sought after and certainly the most expensive spice available on the market, it's one of hundreds of flavoring ingredients that make fine gifts. With more people rediscovering the delights of home cooking, products like specialty olive oils, mustards, chutneys, vinegars and spice blends are helping to create complex flavors with less effort for the cook. This is one area where gift baskets really shine because they group flavor agents by category, like salt varieties or salsa blends, or by cooking style, like Cajun, Italian or Southwestern. Armed with a little information, you can make life easier for the chef-in-training on your list or provide a deluxe assortment that will keep an experienced cook busy experimenting for months.
Most folks favor a hot beverage when the temperatures start to dip, and coffee and tea top the list. Once you know what your friend likes, deciding on a gift shouldn't be a problem. From a gift certificate to a coffeehouse of choice to a tin of favorite tea blends, chances are that one or both of these favorites will be a hit. If you would like to give the most expensive coffee in the world a try, explore Kopi Luwak coffee from Indonesia. But with a price tag of around $50 per cup, you might want to opt for something a little less extravagant. If tea is the order of the day, be sure to check out the latest in green or white teas, those delicate blends made from the young leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. They have a subtle flavor and are high in antioxidants [source: Most Expensive].
In the old days, getting an orange in your Christmas stocking wasn't considered the best way to start the holiday festivities, but the world has changed a lot since then. With so many ways to overindulge, having a virtuous fruit basket around can be a real plus, particularly if it has enough variety to be tempting, but isn't so large that the fruit will become overripe before your friend has a chance to eat it all.
Fruits, all gussied up in attractive baskets and tins, can be a refreshing break from the high-fat and caloric offerings that tempt most folks on a day to day basis, and a more natural approach to snack time is downright popular these days. Mail order establishments and local growers are making gifts of fresh fruit easier to give during most of the year, and the quality is generally excellent.
OK, so candy isn't the most novel gourmet food gift choice, but it is popular. Chocolates all by themselves are a guilty pleasure that has a long and lustrous pedigree. Whether the person on your gift list prefers the elegant indulgence of French chocolate or something closer to home, like Connecticut's own Chocopologie chocolates by renowned chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt, he or she will almost certainly give the foil box a spot of honor on the coffee table.
If giving chocolates seems a bit cliché, how about retro candy that inspires memories of a favorite decade? Bring back the sweet flavors of times gone by with Boston Baked Beans, Mallow Cups, Necco Wafers and Rocky Road candy bars. Buy an assortment or case of one or two favorites.
Mail order retailers, like Lobel's of New York and Omaha Steaks, offer superior meat products for the discriminating consumer. From beautifully marbled Wagyu beef to reasonably priced domestic porterhouse steak, quality meat, poultry and even seafood is easy to transport, and will almost certainly make a welcome addition to a special meal. With the growing interest in outdoor grilling year round, the art of cooking meat to perfection has become a hobby as well as a spectator sport. When you give a gift of quality beef, poultry or seafood, you're sharing the bounty of a plentiful harvest, and reinforcing the bonds of friendship, food and family.
HowStuffWorks finds out what a food forest is, how to create one, and how it helps to fight hunger.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
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