The novelty of a food souvenir can fade as swiftly as your tan. But it doesn't have to be like that! Here's how to use them back at home.
An edible reminder of time spent in sunnier climes always seems like such a good idea at the time. (That’s if you can get your bounty back into the country). Here’s how to give a second lease of life to 10 common food souvenirs.
It’s a rare soul who returns from Amalfi not clutching a bottle of limoncello. This Sorrento lemon infused digestif feels like what was missing from your life when staring out over the Med. When you get home and inevitably stash it and your Capri pants in the back of the cupboard, try giving the drink a second chance by substituting it for lemon syrup in a polenta cake like this one.
North Africa: Ras el hanout
While there’s no definitive mix of spices that make up these ‘best in shop’ blends, the heady smells of up to 50 ground together can take you straight back to North Africa. If you want the easy route to an empty jar, make a flavoured salt to roll soft boiled shelled quail eggs in. If you feel like a challenge, tackle a pastilla (pictured here) and pretend you can still hear the call to prayer from Marrakech.
Turkey: Ground coffee
There’s every chance you brought home a bag of grinds from Istanbul along with dreams of putting your new shiny copper cezve to use every afternoon. After two weeks of sipping caffeinated silt, you might want to try using some of the coffee in this mocha cake instead.
Whether care of Ladurée or Pierre Hermé, for many the fragile almond meal casings of a macaron house the true taste of Paris. If you eventually find yourself staring down at box of stale ganache glued meringue, you could always make them over with berries and whipped cream in an ad hoc Eton Mess.
It’s probably best to scoff any of the high fat nuts that studded the ‘pupus’ (Hawaiian appetisers) you ate whilst watching sunsets of Kaanapali before the dog does… macadamias are toxic for canines. You could use them as a crust for baked fish, or add to these chocolate chip cookies from Eric Lanard.
Canada: Maple syrup
If the two litres of xylem sap from sugar maples that you lugged back from Canada hasn’t leaked through your suitcase, you should count yourself lucky. When the allure of sweet bacon pancakes for breakfast finally wears off, finish off the dregs at dinner by muddling it with Dijon mustard in salads like this one from Niamh Shields.
This Lesbos originating aperitif is the taste of a Greek Island holiday. One way to harness its bracing aniseed taint when you’re back home is to soften it with a meeker liquorice flavour like fennel. If you need some help finishing the bottle, next time you make baked fish parcels for supper add some fennel and swap the white wine for a dribble of ouzo.
Ireland: Soda bread
The dreams of Sundays stuffed with fry-ups and the sweet taste of soda bread can be easily soured when freezer burn blights a hastily wrapped souvenir loaf. Try giving the slices a turn in milk and beaten egg before reinventing them as a different sort of eggy bread sandwich.
The appeal of sticky slices of spiced cake, from pain d'épices through to lebkuchen, doesn’t always traverse the channel. When you’ve still got half a loaf hogging the freezer, you could always take the savoury path out of the woods. Be inspired by Aiden Byrne’s Great British Menu effort and serve it toasted with liver pate and a few sour cherries for a nifty starter.
If you discovered a taste for this pit-black yeast paste from Down Under, feel free to continue scraping it across your toast. If you bought it as a lark in Sydney’s duty-free, you could keep this divisive jar reserved for dares. The other option is to sneak a spoonful into gravies for roasts, or mushroom and ale pies for a surprisingly meaty boost.
What holiday food do you usually bring back? And do you get round to eating it? Talk to us in the comments box below.
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