From Vacation Souvenirs to Kitchen Staples

By Carolyn Stine May 13, 2019 

I bought paprika in Hungary, now what do I do with it? ... HELP!

Now more than ever, Bashed readers have been bitten by the travel bug. Whether it’s a girls’ weekend or a honeymoon, a family beach trip or a solo journey to an exotic locale, it’s official: experiences reign supreme, and travel is the ultimate experience. As we’ve gotten older (ahem, wiser) and traveled more and more, we’ve found ourselves cutting back on the souvenirs that we used to always stock up on when vacationing. Magnets, postcards, t-shirts… you name it, we’ve bought it before. What have now become our most cherished souvenirs are the bits and pieces of the local cuisine that we’ve experienced abroad, learned to love, and wanted to bring into our own kitchens. Using the #goals-worthy Travel and Leisure “Best Places to Travel in 2019” as our guide, we’ve rounded up the most delicious flavors from all of the places you’ll be traveling in 2019, and we’re showing you how you can cook with these souvenirs at home, in your very own kitchen.

Hungarian Paprika

Paprika from Hungary

There is one key ingredients that is synonymous with the cuisine of the beautiful Eastern European country of Hungary, and that is Hungarian paprika. While you can find paprika in any old supermarket stateside, authentic Hungarian paprika is a true thing of beauty. Its deep red hue comes from local paprika peppers, which are at their sweetest when grown in their native Hungary - the country’s cooler growing season helps those peppers hang onto their sweetness in a way that doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world. Once home, you’ll want to use this flavorful powder to recreate one of the best dishes you chowed down on in Hungary - chicken paprikash.

Madeira from Portugal

Portugal has been on the international travel radar for a few years now, with crowds flocking to the city of Lisbon, the castles of Sintra, and the wine country of Douro. The next up-and-coming destination? The stunning islands of Madeira. Off the coast of northwest Africa, these Portuguese islands are warm and green, with epic cliffs and turquoise water. They’re also home to madeira wine, which is a fortified wine made only on the islands of Madeira. After tasting your way through your trip, you won’t be able to resist buying a case (or two) to send home (tip: it makes an amazing gift!). We like keeping an open bottle on hand to cook with as well, as we cannot get enough of this madeira demi-glace when making red meat at home. It’s sweet, a little smokey, and full of that rich, caramel-y madeira flavor.

Israli Couscous

Couscous from Israel

While we haven’t quite figured out how to smuggle home vats of homemade hummus, we do take immense pleasure in traveling home from Israel and knowing that we have Israeli couscous tucked safely away in our bags. Also known as ptitim, Israeli couscous is a pearl-shaped grain made of wheat or semolina flour, and we could officially eat it with every meal. Speaking of… one of our favorite meals to make at home with it? This Israeli couscous recipe doctors it up with pistachios, pine nuts, raisins, cinnamon, and fresh lemon for out of this world flavor.

Key Limes from Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are officially having a renaissance, and spending a few days in the sunshine without having to whip out your passport seems like the ultimate luxury these days. As the name gives away, there’s no Florida Keys without their signature, local key limes. What’s the difference between regular old grocery store limes and key limes, you may ask? Key limes have a very particular, unique flavor to their juice - it’s a bit more tart, a little floral, and more aromatic overall. They also have more of a yellow hue on the inside - fancy that! As if you needed another excuse to bake, we’re bringing you our absolute favorite key lime pie recipe, which has a tart custard filling thanks to those key limes, plus a graham cracker crust and decadent meringue topping to boot.

Riesling from Alsace

Riesling from Alsace

Paris, we love you. Monaco, you are one sexy seaside city. Bordeaux, you bring the big wines. But Alsace… wait, where’s Alsace again? This incredible area in Northeastern France closely borders Germany and Switzerland, and has a flavor that feels very unique to the rest of France. Their wine specialty? Dry white wines in the style of their neighbor, Germany’s, rieslings. Now, these are not your mama’s sweet, cloying rieslings that have given the wine a bad rap. Alsace rieslings are complex and rich, with a bit of minerality and some deliciously bright flavors. This wine is one of our favorites, and can easily be brought back in checked luggage or shipped home. Rather than cook with it once home, we recommend cooking alongside it, and expertly pairing it with the richness of this ham and gruyere sandwich. Et voila!

Garam Masala from Nairobi

The capital city of Kenya, Nairobi has been on the travel heat map as of late because it combines an amazingly vibrant city with access to national parks and all that the African wilderness has to offer. One of the key ingredients in the local food is garam masala, which is a flavorful spice blend that combines coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper. In Nairobi, one of our favored uses of this super-spice is in Kenyan curry, which you can recreate at home using this curry and garam masala githeri recipe.

Pomegranate Molasses from the Turquoise Coast, Turkey

Also known as the Turkish Riviera, the Turquoise Coast could additionally be known as… paradise. This stunning coastal area features beautiful Mediterranean beaches and is the perfect place to sneak away for a summer retreat. One of the best discoveries that we made there was pomegranate molasses, which combines the sweetness of traditional molasses with the tartness and acidity of pomegranate. While we have been known to put it on everything (literally… try it on braised lamb and it will change your life), what we love the most is combining it with local ingredients at home to make them feel extra-special. Enter: these slow-roasted tomatoes with pomegranate molasses and basil. We can’t get enough.

We want to know about your travels and all of the delicious things you’ve brought home to cook with - share with us below!

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Carolyn Stine

A party without cake is just a meeting.

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