Here’s some of the Edinburgh Foody top tips on Christmas presents for foodies. This year’s suggestions range from gadgets to literature. from experiences to kindness.
My kitchen is pretty small, so I have to limit myself when it comes to gadgets. However, following my recent trip to Japan and a cooking course in Kyoto, I finally caved and bought a space-hungry rice cooker. It was totally worth it. Now, from an outlay of just £20, I can enjoy perfect rice.
We bought the rice cooker largely because we like to eat sushi rice, which is time consuming to make and difficult to get right. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much better all types of rice are out of the cooker. It’s a dream to use too, with just one button and a non-stick pan that’s easy to clean. If your friends have space to store one, I’d highly recommend a rice cooker for an unusual low cost gift!
Something quite different I’d also like to give my pals this festive season is cooking confidence. Naturally I have some very foody friends, but there are just as many who don’t cook for pleasure. By that I mean two things. One is simply being able to throw ingredients in a pot and know the results will turn out delicious. The other is a working knowledge of flavour, such as the properties of spices and how ingredients react together. I think acquiring this knowledge is a nice thing to do; through experimentation, sharing recipes or sampling different cuisines. And it’s even better if you can share the experience with someone else.
After I saw Amy’s rice cooker I got one too and would recommend one to everyone. But I can’t be a copycat. Instead, I’ll go with two presents for people who are moving away from home: a stick blender and a copy of Cooking on a Bootstrap. A stick blender is a brilliant tool! I use mine much more than I used the big food processor I had for a decade. The stick blender is small, compact, comes with a blender attachment and is inexpensive. (You can find an expensive one if you try: mine was about £25 quid.)
Most of my friends have already set up their home and filled their kitchens. For people who have everything, and to not buy more stuff, home made sweets or treats are great. It’s too late to make batches of kimchi or lay down liqueur but it’s not too late to make ginger snaps, dark chocolate fudge or truffles.
Or, a book. I’ve found another foody manga and I recommend it to everyone: What Did You Eat Yesterday? is a charming tale of handsome lawyer Shiro and the dinners he cooks for his partner, Kenji. Shiro’s shopping and cooking is the core of the book and helps tell the stories of work, life and frienships. I love it. It’s sweet and charming and gives an insight into Japanese culture. And food: I’m fascinated by how Shiro uses his rice cooker and have learnt to press and steam silken tofu.
Choosing presents for friends is always hard as we’re all so lucky to have so much, when so many have so little, but here’s a selection of foodie gifts that I’ll be sending this year.
I love fudge and tablet and I am a fan of supporting local, independent producers like The Loch Leven Tablet Company, who also happen to be fellow food bloggers, Boys Eat Scotland. Tablet can become addictive and once the bag or bar has been started it usually doesn’t last very long.
Sainsbury’s Magazine (£26 for 12 issues, if paying by Direct Debit) is my go to present for girlfriends. I like it so much that I also buy myself an annual subscription – shallow I know, but it’s a great read with lots of inspirational recipes and it’s the gift that keeps giving each month.
And for those friends that have signed a Christmas pre-NUPP, as championed by Martin Lewis, why not mark the occasion by giving a gift to someone less fortunate, rather than wasting money on useless gifts that the receiver doesn’t want. For just £5, you can make an unimaginable difference to someone’s life. I’ll be donating to Social Bite, who will provide a homeless person a hot meal and somewhere to go on Christmas day, giving them the chance to eat Christmas dinner in a café with good company.