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Gifts for People Who Like Food and Cooking

7 Dec

Though I know well enough to leave the real gift guides to the professionals, I thought it might be nice to offer a few casual, less formal ideas about gifts that would please any lover of food and cooking.

Extra-long, pocket-less apron

Most people who like to cook are already going to have an apron or two, but if those people are anything like me, they are going to be less than thrilled with the styles of aprons offered by most shops.  I prefer a plain, unfussy apron, which is surprisingly difficult to find.  I also like a long apron when I cook, because I have been known to inexplicably fling food all the way down the front of my pants.  Because of this same propensity for active mess-making, I also prefer an apron without pockets, as the last thing I desire after cooking a meal is the unexpected discovery of a pocketful of flour or a lone, errant prawn.  This apron comes in every color imaginable, and it’s got an adjustable neck for us shorties.

100% organic, fair trade, fresh roasted coffee

Cafe Mam five pound bag

I am fortunate to live in a city that offers many a choice of places to get great coffee, but I know that great coffee is not so readily available everywhere else in the country (or even the state).  Cafe Mam offers totally organic, fair trade Arabica coffee that is roasted to order, which means that when you place your order, your coffee gets roasted right then, just for you.  Impressively, all of the coffee is available to order at a price of under $10 a pound, which is unheard of for such high quality coffee.  I like the tango blend the best, which is half French roast, half Italian roast–two very bold, dark flavors.  The two darker roasts are great together, and they offer a robust and flavorful cup that is never scorched or the least bit bitter.  The flavor grows subtly sweeter as the cup cools–always a good sign.  All roasts are available in 1 pound or 5 pound bags.  Get a 5 pound bag and split it up into 1 pound portions for stocking stuffers for the coffee lovers in your life.

The Tummy Trilogy, by Calvin Trillin

The Tummy Trilogy: American Fried Alice, Let's Eat, Third Helpings Cover

If Ruth Reichl is the mistress of sultry food writing, with her talk of apples and noodles somehow made erotic and otherworldly, Calvin Trillin is your best friend or favorite uncle who likes to sit around with you and chat about what you both like to eat.  Trillin, essentially, is a whole other world of food writer, because he is not technically a food writer at all.  Funny, informative, touching, and clearly in love with his subject of food, food, food, Calvin Trillin is my all time favorite writer who writes about food, which is the only thing I can think to call him without undermining all the great, non-food writing he has also done.

Pie cutter

10 inch Stainless Steel 8 Cut Pie Cutter
I was introduced to these when I worked at the restaurant and bakery that made the drain-clogging fresh fruit pies.  All of the pies were portioned out with this type of cutter, with a 6-slice pie cutter used for baked pies, and a 5-slice cutter used for fresh fruit pies and cream pies (yeah, I remember).  A few years ago, when I made several pies for a party, I splurged on a couple these and, lord, do I love them.  Though the pie cutters are meant more for making even portions than doing all of your slicing for you (you’ll still have to complete each slice with a knife or sharp pie cutter), if you have to serve a lot of people at lot of pie, say, after a holiday dinner, these are a great tool to have.
If you know someone who is enamored with local produce, loves to create meals out of unexpected ingredients, and enjoys being surprised by a new selection of vegetables and fruit inhabiting their house from week to week, consider gifting that person a CSA share from a local farm.  CSA shares are a fantastic way to get to know local farms and farmers, and there is no better way to receive a steady stream of super local, super fresh produce and meats.  That’s right.  I said meats.  Think CSA shares only provide people with boxes of seasonal vegetables?  Not so.  Many farms offer meat shares, and you can sometimes split your share with another family (should the idea of receiving an entire quarter of a pig prove a bit too daunting).  Local Harvest is a great resource for finding local farms in your area that offer CSA shares and meat shares.  Just plug your zip code or state into the CSA farm finder on the right side of the page, and a huge (really huge—the Oregon list was 24 pages long–that’s pages of listings, not just listings themselves–and the New York list topped out at 41 pages) list of farms offering CSA options will appear for your perusal.
Coming soon: a gift list for kids who like being in the kitchen!
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2 Responses to “Gifts for People Who Like Food and Cooking”

  1. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide December 7, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    I need an apron for when I eat. The running joke in our house is that I can’t eat salsa without ruining a shirt.

    • savorysaltysweet December 7, 2011 at 10:50 am #

      Good sir, I hear you on this one. I don’t own any light-colored clothing at all, mainly because I have decided that it’s just safer to eat while wearing dark clothing.

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