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11 Food Gift Ideas for People Who Travel to Eat

By AFAR Editors

Nov 30, 2021

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Chef and food activist Bryant Terry’s cookbook, “Black Food,” contains recipes as well as essays, poems, illustrations, and collages.

Courtesy of 4 Color Books

Chef and food activist Bryant Terry’s cookbook, “Black Food,” contains recipes as well as essays, poems, illustrations, and collages.

These gift ideas will take your favorite food lover on a culinary journey—without ever leaving home.

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With cases of the Omicron variant on the rise, hopping on a flight to Tokyo for ramen is still off the metaphorical menu right now. That doesn’t mean you can’t keep the spark of travel alive for those who typically make restaurant reservations before they even book their flights or bring along extra luggage to get their wine souvenirs home safely.

From cookbooks that will take you on a culinary journey to subscription boxes filled with snacks from a new country each month, these 11 food-gift ideas let hungry adventurers explore flavors from around the world from home while they plan their next trip.

Black Food by Bryant Terry (4 Color Books, 2021)

  • Buy now: $37, bookshop.org
  • Best for: Travelers who also love to cook at home

There are travel books and there are cookbooks, but our favorites are the ones where the genres coexist. One of the most recent examples is chef and food activist Bryant Terry’s cookbook, Black Food, which is a tribute to the Black diaspora.

Inside, you’ll find recipes for baker Erika Council’s vegan sweet potato biscuits and chef Nina Compton’s lentil, okra, and coconut stew—all prefaced with nuggets of history and memory. There are also essays, poems, illustrations, and collages that touch on food beyond the dinner table, including an okra-based ancestral bathing practice, the South African village pushing back against industrial farming, and more.

More cookbooks to gift: 

Welcome to flavor town!

Fly by Jing ’Tis the Season(ing) Box

  • Buy now: $120, flybyjing.com
  • Best for: People who consider flavorless the real F word

Inspired by her hometown of Chengdu, China, Jing Gao created a line of pantry staples in 2018. The Fly by Jing ’Tis the Season(ing) Box includes not only bottles of her fan-favorite Sichuan Chili Crisp, Zhong Sauce, and Mala Spice Mix but also a variety of other seasonings, all neatly wrapped in limited-edition holiday packaging. Want to complete the meal? Fly by Jing also just started shipping its own brand of frozen dumplings.

Caviar is the definition of treating yourself.

Fulton Fish Market Best of Domestic Caviar Assortment Package

New York City’s Fulton Fish Market has been open since 1822—first at the South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan and now in Hunts Point, Bronx. You can get anything from oysters to a full Feast of the Seven Fishes shipped door to door, but if you really feel like treating someone (ahem, yourself) this holiday season, splash out on some caviar. This gift box includes two ounces each of hackleback caviar, paddlefish caviar, California sturgeon caviar, and salmon roe caviar, plus crème fraîche, frozen blinis, and a mother of pearl spoon.

You may not be able to visit the Carnegie Deli anymore, but you can still get its cheesecake delivered.

Carnegie Deli Cheesecake

Even though the original Carnegie Deli in New York City closed years ago, you can still order its famous cheesecake via its website that ships nationwide. Order the eight-inch cheesecake for a party, or send the four-pack of mini cheesecakes so you can eat one now and freeze the rest for later.

Count down the days until you can go back to Japan with a dram of whisky.

Yamazaki 12-Year-Old Whisky

  • Buy now: from $175, drizly.comflaviar.com
  • Best for: Someone with a Google alert set up for “Japan Border Reopening”

This bottle of Yamazaki 12-year-old whisky is Suntory’s flagship single malt out of Japan’s first distillery, Yamazaki Distillery, which opened in 1923. It is so smooth, with hints of fruit (to name a few: peach, grapefruit, pineapple, candied orange, tart cranberry).

More whiskey gift ideas: The 7 Best Global Gifts for Whiskey Lovers

Universal Yums Monthly Subscription Snack Box

  • Buy now: from $15 per month, universalyums.com
  • Best for: Travelers who always stop at a local grocery store to raid the snack aisle for edible souvenirs

Universal Yums monthly subscription boxes come packed with sweet and savory snacks and candies from grocery stores around the globe, each box typically tied to a particular country. 

“The boxes are always well balanced between sweet and salty, familiar and novel,” Ashlea Halpern, an AFAR contributing writer, wrote in a review. As a member, she’s tried everything from classic treats like nutty baklava from Jordan and marbled sesame halva from Israel to more creative flavors like floral cheese potato chips from France, Italian truffles studded with strawberry pop rocks, and crunchy Turkish kebab chips.

More subscription box gift ideas: 30+ Unique Subscription Boxes and Memberships to Give

Coffee subscription services let you sample coffee beans from around the world without hopping on a plane—or even visiting the grocery store.

Atlas Coffee Club

  • Buy now: from $50 for a three-month subscription (was $60), atlascoffeeclub.com 
  • Best for: Caffeine lovers

Atlas Coffee Club takes you on a world tour with its monthly gift subscriptions of single-origin coffees sourced from more than 50 countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Colombia, Brazil, and Indonesia. You can pick roast preferences (light, dark, or all roast types) as well as whole bean or ground bags (orders range from 6-ounce bags to 24 ounces). Each shipment also includes a suggested brewing method, as well as an informative postcard explaining more about the region where the coffee beans were cultivated. 

More coffee gift ideas: 9 Coffee Subscriptions and Boxes for Beans From Around the World

For just $10, a bottle of local Hawaiian hot sauce makes a great stocking stuffer for food lovers.

Adoboloco Pineapple Habanero Hot Sauce

  • Buy now: $10, mouth.com
  • Best for: Someone with a fridge full of hot sauces from around the world

Add something spicy to add to your hot-sauce loving friend’s collection this year. Adoboloco, founded in 2011 by a family in Maui, makes a pineapple habanero hot sauce with sun-ripened Hawaiian pineapples picked only two days before production.


Today, they operate a community farm and supply dozens of local restaurants. Though this hot sauce is best enjoyed at Kihei Caffe in Maui, your friend can dash it on pizza, splash it in coleslaw, or slather it on pulled pork sandwiches at home while they plan their next trip to Hawai‘i.

More hot sauce gift ideas: 9 Out-of-This-World Hot Sauces Worth Traveling For

Estelle Colored Champagne Coupes

You can never go wrong with a bottle of champagne as a gift, but why not add a set of colorful coupes to go with it? Stephanie Summerson Hall named her hand-blown colored glass stemware company after her grandmother, Estelle, who loved antiquing and looking for new treasures in small South Carolina towns.

Made by glass artisans in Poland at a glass making company with a 100-plus-year-old history, these vintage-inspired champagne coupes come in nearly a dozen different colors from “Amber Smoke” to “Cobalt Blue” and can be purchased in sets of two or six.

More wine gift ideas:

Some things—like New York’s Pastrami Queen sandwiches—just can’t be recreated at home. But you can have them delivered.

Pastrami Queen Sandwich Kit

Leftover turkey sandwiches are fine and all, but pastrami sandwiches shipped straight from NYC are even better. The Upper East Side’s Pastrami Queen packs its sandwich kits with well-brined pastrami, soft seeded rye, mustard, and crisp pickles. The late Anthony Bourdain called the sandwich “if not the best, among the very best.”

Goldbelly also ships all sorts of iconic American regional foods from bagels to barbecue using UPS or FedEx overnight services within the United States. You could sate lots of cravings with this gift.

More Goldbelly gift ideas: 8 Iconic American Foods Goldbelly Will Ship to You

Jeni’s Holiday Ice Cream Collection

  • Buy now: $68 for six pints, shop.jenis.com
  • Best for: Those who always make room for dessert

Founded in Columbus, Ohio, in 2002, this woman-owned business delivers pints of its artisanal ice cream made without synthetic flavorings, dyes, or off-the-shelf mixes to all 50 states via flat-rate FedEx shipping starting at $13. Better still: It tastes terrific. 

Its Holiday Collection includes six pints of seasonally inspired and indulgent flavors like Cognac with Gingerbread (cognac ice cream with dark caramel sauce and gingerbread pieces), White Chocolate Peppermint (pink and white peppermint ice creams with white chocolate pieces), Gooey Butter Cake (cream cheese ice cream with vanilla cake pieces), and Salted Peanut Butter with Chocolate Flecks (an homage to Ohio’s Buckeye candies, a peanut butter–filled chocolate treat), and more.

More ice cream gift ideas: 8 Ice Cream Shops That Will Deliver Treats to Your Doorstep

Lyndsey Matthews, Laura Dannen Redmen, Aislyn Greene, and Katherine LaGrave contributed reporting to this article.

This article was originally published on November 16, 2020; it was updated on November 30, 2021, with current information.

>> Next: 11 Useful Travel Gifts Under $100

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