I tried really hard not to spend too much money on souvenirs and gifts to bring home. Of course, no one ever says “bring me a gift!” – except for maybe little children… But, the expectation is there. It’s also fun to bring back a little bit of what you found there. I often keep a bit for myself, so they are gifts for me, too!
While in Palafrugell, I went to the local supermarket, Carrefour, and just browsed. Often, you can find “gourmet” items there as everyday foods. For example, I bought Carmencita Paellero spice packets – now I wish I had bought more! The box comes with 5 packets (6 servings each) and a recipe on each packet. The first packet has “The secrets of good paella” and the other recipes are
- Arroz con conejo y caracoles (rice with rabbit and snails)
- Paella valenciana (non-seafood – I think there is rabbit in this, too!)
- Arroz negro (has squid and its ink!)
- Paella de marisco (seafood paella)
I also bought a jar of the Carrefour paella spice. I did not buy paprika. Honestly, with the poor exchange on the dollar, I could pay about the same in the U.S. Ditto for cava – the Spanish sparkling wine.
While I was wandering around Barcelona, I found a store that was selling Italian ingredients. I had read a lot about the Star brand of porcini mushroom bouillon, so when I saw those in the window, I had to buy some. Boy, are they fragrant! Even double wrapped in plastic bags, you can smell the mushroom! I had some dishes in France made with fresh porcini mushrooms (called cèpes) and really loved them. I saw some cans of
porcini mushrooms at the Carrefour, but decided not to buy them.
I didn’t buy the piquillo peppers, either – although I bet they were good. If I make any tapas using that, I will probably just substitute the baby peppers that you can get at Costco. I was fascinated by the TINY baby artichoke hearts stacked in a lovely jar – 60 for around 25+ dollars – but did not bite. That was in the basement of El Corte Ingles, a huge department store in central Barcelona.
As far as sweets are concerned, I bought some dry mixes made by Royal (owned by Nabisco?) – two of crema catalana and one of Belgian chocolate mousse. I know that I could probaby make them from scratch, but I love mixes! I forgot to purchase the newest Lindt candy bars to take home – I’ll bet they are not available in the U.S. yet. I bought mine at a convenience store in the Sants train station – even their train food is classier! The one that we tried was dark chocolate filled with fig and caramel – it was very good. I didn’t try the cherry and chili one. I was thinking of buying some to take home but didn’t get around to it. I hope they can be found in the U.S. somewhere!
Final food note – I think: I found a $4.00 (2,5 euros) jar of black truffles. They are made by Ferrer, a Spanish company. We’ll see how Mom likes them!
Of course, I bought some Barcelona Football Club stuff for the boys. They had EVERYTHING – I wanted to buy a FCB dog collar and baby’s pacifier, but my husband restrained me. Oh, the ice cube trays in the shape of their shield were cool, too.
I bought a couple of Catalonian separatist items, including a t-shirt with the estellada (separatist flag) and an oval sticker for my car. I was fascinated by the oval stickers of the Catalan burro, but only bought a button for my purse. Our friend Alejandro explained to us that there really is a breed of burro unique to Catalonia. There is a similar phenomenon in Poitou, where I lived a long time ago. Then, I bought a Gaudi inspired T-shirt by Jordi Nogues that had the towers of the Sagrada Familia on it and the word “Barcelona” on it (the other T-shirt did not have Barcelona on it and the estellada is a pretty obscure reference).
Finally, Chupa Chups. I bought a few suckers – because Chupa Chups originated in Barcelona. The wrapper was designed by Salvador Dali, in case you did not know. My niece and nephews are not that fond of them – mostly because I have only purchased the ice cream flavors in the past. Most interestingly, I was walking on the street by the Diagonal Metro station and found a pamphlet from Chupa Chups. The paper has the rules from a game made by Chupa Chups called La Oca Loca. I found one on E-Bay (Holland…), so I will wait to collect that beauty. Still, it will be interesting for a lesson plan on making a personalized Oca game – something I want to do with a class some day.
All right, It may look like I bought a lot of stuff, but I really didn’t!