Herbs and Spices: The World’s Best Souvenir


At twenty dollars a pop, the t-shirt is the most soulless souvenir I can think of. Even when rolled up tightly, thick jersey takes up way too much space in already bulging suitcases. Several years ago, I dropped the tourist act and decided to give myself and my loved ones something more creative, affordable, and – ultimately – more meaningful.

I’m here to say it – the world’s best souvenir for your family & friends is an herb or spice from your travels.

When I think back to the trips I’ve taken over the years, what stands out the most is the food. And, if I want to swim in the memory of a place, there is no better way to do so than with food souvenirs. Personally, I prefer herbs and spices for their small size and expense. Oils, wines, and other goodies can all be shipped back home fairly easily, but take up a lot of room in the suitcase (and may cause trouble at customs).

Just like Proust and his famous madeleine, I’m a believer in food’s power to evoke memories. When I first started bringing back spices, it took me months to garner the courage to use the precious souvenirs. Frightened of losing the memories, I would only open them up to let the aroma guide me back to that special time and place. One whiff of sweet, spicy, or woodsy and I was back … back to that hot salsa served with a beachside breakfast in Cabo, the grilled, oregano and paprika rubbed lamb kabob in Greece, or my high school trip to Tunisia, where I ate plate after plate of fresh tomato salad with parsley.

Right now I can’t travel – I have a little baby girl and I want to wait until she can remember the trips. Until she’s old enough, I’m letting my spices be my guide. I’m taking a virtual voyage, down memory lane and beyond – cooking one meal for every country in the world. 195 countries, 195 meals, 195 weeks. With a cooking project like that, you can bet I’m glad I bought those spices!

To learn more about Sasha’s culinary experiences, visit Global Table Adventure.

Sasha Martin
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2 Responses to Herbs and Spices: The World’s Best Souvenir

  1. Michelle September 13, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

    Is there much less trouble shipping such items? (as compared to customs, etc) Any tips or advise on shipping these kinds of souvenirs?


  2. Sasha @ Global Table Adventure September 17, 2010 at 6:56 pm #

    Always check with your airline ahead of time, as each airline has different rules and guidelines. If everything is dried, there should be no problem with customs.

    If you are going to ship, I would personally let the store where you purchased the spices arrange for the shipping, as if you’d ordered the item online. Just seems simplest to me.

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