The Best Spanish Gifts to Bring Back from Your Trip to SpainIt's impossible not to bring back a few tacky items from your trip to Spain, but there are some excellent souvenirs on sale in Spain. Take a look at my ten best souvenirs and click on each picture for an explanation.1) Olive OilSpanish olive oil is the best in the world (despite what the Italians and Greeks say) and Jaen in Andalusia makes half of all that is made in Andalusia, a third of all of Spain's oil and a tenth of that consumed in the entire world. It might be a little difficult to carry large quantities home - either buy a small ornamental bottle as in the picture (and refill it constantly with Spanish oil bought at home) or fill every last space in your luggage before you leave Spain with some larger bottles. Every grocery store in Spain stocks an impressive selection of olive oils.2) Bota (Leather Wine Bottle)Pretend you're a Spanish peasant taking the long journey from your home in the countryside to the market in the next town with a 'bota' – a leather wine bottle perfect for drinking on the go. The black version in the picture is the authentic one and costs about 30€, the pale one on the right is the touristy one but it is a lot cheaper. The all have tiny drinking holes; the idea is to squirt the wine into your mouth without the bottle touching your lips. There is an art to it that is quickly picked up - learning it is a lot of fun!3) SaffronSaffron is an essential ingredient in paella and is great to add to a number of dishes. As a chef once said to me: saffron is expensive, if you're going to use it all, you may as well use enough so you can actually taste it. To do that you're going to have to buy it cheaply, and there are few places cheaper than in Granada. The stalls around the cathedral also sell some other excellent spices too – locally grown mint and lavender as well as some excellent teas is my favourite – black tea with cinnamon, vanilla and cardamom pods.4) Kukuxumusu T-ShirtOk, I know you're going to buy a t-shirt, so why not get one that isn't really, really tacky? Kukuxumusu is a Spanish t-shirt brand with some very imaginative and often quite silly t-shirts drawn in the Basque company's distinctive style. A lot more fun than then "I love Madrid" t-shirts and something that you might actually wear out! The t-shirts can be found all over Spain, while they have a store near the opera house in Madrid (Metro: Opera)5) Jamón Iberico - Spanish Cured HamThe Spanish talk about their ham like the French speak of their wine. Cured for at least a year, often two, jamón is a staple part of every Spaniard's diet. Sadly there is a bit of the "emperor's new clothes" about it and much of it is a little unpalatable for those not brought up on it. Buy your jamón from Huelva, Salamanca or the Alpujarras, near Granada. The chorizo (spicy sausage) is good too.6) Flamenco CDFlamenco is still alive and well and is popular throughout Andalusia, Madrid and Barcelona. Go into a specialist flamenco store and ask the assistant for help in choosing a CD.7) Spanish FanA hot summer's day in Spain is not complete without middle-aged Spanish women fanning themselves with an abanico. They might seem a bit tacky but Spanish women swear by them - they're actually quite effective and are ideal for buildings that don't have air conditioning.8) Spanish Brandy from JerezTwo countries make brandy – France and Spain. France makes the gross stuff, Spain makes it well (me, biased? Never!). It is made in the town of Jerez, which is also the home of sherry. In my experience, most people find sherry a bit on the sweet side; the brandy is much better. It is also extremely cheap and available nationwide. Expect to pay about 7-10€ for a litre. Other famous alcoholic beverages from Spain include the vino dulce from Malaga, Rioja from, erm, Rioja, cava (Spanish champagne) from Catalonia and the Asturian cider.9) Sword from ToledoToledo has been famous for its steel for centuries and its swords and shields was equipping Europe's cavalry right up until firearms rendered them useless. Made now exclusively for tourists, they are still good quality and perfect for if swordfighting is still essential for survival in your home country. If you don't have a real need for a sword, a letter opener made from Toledo steel can be bought for about 10€. Sadly, Toledo steel can do nothing about opening emails.10) Bullfighting Poster with Your Name on It!Ok, allow me at least one tacky item in this list. An authentic looking bullfighting poster with your name written in the space where the bullfighter's name appears. Especially popular in Seville, they are available wherever there is a bullring. Great for the kids. Alternatively, as you can see in the picture, they do personalised flamenco posters too. Look out for signs saying "Tu nombre aqui" (Your name here).
01 april 2012, 10:56