Friday, February 18, 2011

Gifts of food and other hand-made treats...

One of the best presents I got for my birthday this year was a tin of hand made chocolates, with quandong and vodka centres. It wasn't just that they were truly delicious and beautiful, but also the that they had been made by a friend as a way of wishing me a happy birthday. Why, of all the gifts I received for my birthday did this one stand out?

And I can't help but recall one of my earliest memories of my eldest sister Victoria's birthday.. she was at primary school, so I couldn't have been more than 2 or 3. Despite being one of the ever-popular girls in her class, Vick had invited one of the less popular, less well-off kids to her party.. I remember this girl, she arrived on an old bike, her parents were obviously from the more southern parts of Italy, and she had a name like Carmel or Rosa or Maria, and for a present, she brought (gasp! shock and horror here)... a painting, a painting she had done for Vick.. I seem to recall my mother and Vick being very 'OK' about it ..such was their style.. but for those of a more conservative ilk, it was a bit out there. In hindsight, I think, what a wonderful present! Could there be a better present than the one that has been created especially for you?

So, why this story?... In trying to decide on a present recently... a cook book? a book voucher? a microplane grater? I did commence a quasi deconstruction about the tradition of giving, and how it has manifested in contemporary living. How long does it take to choose a present? What percentage of our hourly rate does it cost? What is a good present?? Why do we give presents? How long does it take to chose, and why particular gift over another? How much effort does it cost?? Why have I started to appreciate less the purchased gifts over the home-made variety. I don't know if I have an answer, except that home-made gift is best of all.. and home-made foods gifts, are best of best of all.

I am trying to compile ideas for home made gifts, and these are a couple of ideas?
  • Lokum in a tin... (Turkish Delight)
  • Paneforte... wrapped in cellophane..
  • Nougat...
  • Preserved fruits, eg in grappa..
  • Yeast breads
  • Jellies made with agar?
  • Home made pizza ovens???

One tip for food gifts... try and give food that can keep for at least a few days, and you must work on the presentation.. it must look spectacular, have the ingredients attached... but still be obviously 'home-made'.