6 gifts from Spain that won’t get you in trouble with the customs officer

airplane wing

Whenever I tell my family and friends that I’ll be flying over to spend the holidays with them, I’m invariably inundated with a singular request: “Bring jamón!”

At this point, my eyelids close, my head lolls back, and my lungs empty themselves with a slight whistle. Why doesn’t anybody want any caganets, personalized torero posters or polyester Sevillana dresses, dammit?

“I cannot bring any meat. You know this. It will be confiscated and destroyed at customs and I will be fined. You know this.”

“Only if they find it! I once brought [insert prohibited item here] and nobody caught me. You just have to look like you’re not carrying anything. The trick is…”

Inhale, while I mentally cancel my ticket, and exhale, while I conjure up another lovely Spanish product that I know they’ve never had or heard of and can later boast about to their other friends.

So here is my list of thoughtful non-meat items you can take back to your loved ones that will give them a taste of Spain and win you points for culture:

  1. Crema de orujo
    Crema de orujo is a delicious liquor from Galicia that has a flavor, look and texture similar to Irish cream. It’s made by distilling what’s left over from wine production: grape skins, seeds and stalks. Serve it over ice or mix it in coffee for an after-dinner treat. You can buy this anywhere they sell liquor but be sure to get the crema and not the aguardiente!
  2. Ron miel
    Blending aged rum and honey to make ron miel is a time-honored tradition in Canarias and carries a geographical designation. Serve this in chilled chupito glasses and sip. This can be found in liquor stores as well.
  3. Turrón
    Turrón is a classic Spanish sweet widely available around Christmas where it’s a staple in Spanish homes. Casa Mira is the place to buy turrón in Madrid. They have served the Royal Family in the past and the city has recognized their excellence with a plaque in the sidewalk beside the store entrance. My favorite turrón is yema tostada.
  4. Chocolate a la taza
    Valor makes a chocolate bar that you can melt down in a saucepan into thick, creamy, rich hot chocolate. Churros not included of course. A bar is about 2€ in any supermarket.
  5. Churros mix
    Of course we were going to get to this. Harimsa makes a kit which includes the mix and a piping bag. You can pick this up in any large supermarket for about 1.50€.
  6. Spice mixes
    Show off your cooking skills back home! Carmencita makes several spice mixes for preparing paella and gazpacho manchego as well as standalones like azafrán and pimentón dulce. This is a great gift for the cook in the family as well.

If you want more inspiration that doesn’t involve walls of keychains, head over to España en la Mesa. All the products there are made in Spain and are gift-worthy.

Remember to check with your country’s customs guidelines before buying though. Some countries like Australia, for example, won’t allow you to take products with milk in it (even dehydrated) so that churros mix would be out. It’s ok to bring liquor into the US but it has to be put in your checked in luggage. Don’t try to trick the customs or you could face fines and humiliation like our friend Lauren over here.

Anna Bitanga

About Anna Bitanga

I've been living in Madrid since 2007, married to a madrileño since 2008, and mom to our son since 2011. Tech is my thing. I love salmorejo, matrimonios and cazón adobado. I don't watch football.

Image Credits: Andrew Enright

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