Self-Isolation Has Taken A Flavorful Turn

How many of you has this happened to?

As you spend more time inside feeding yourselves from food in your cupboard, how many of you have discovered specialty food products you bought on vacations? Foods you picked up when you traveled because you loved it so much there and can’t get the same flavors at home?

That’s what I’ve been discovering in my cupboard lately: treasures. Delicious treats I brought home from my travels to remind me of my trips. It’s one way I can enjoy armchair travel.

Prickly Pear Marmalade from Arizona

Peanut butter toast in the morning has become a routine, so when I found a jar of prickly pear marmalade I brought back from Sedona, Arizona, I started thinking about adding that to my toast in morning. Maybe I could replicate the flavors of my trip there? Mostly, what I remember from the trip was the delectable prickly pear margarita I had! That was enough to convince me that I might be able to cook the marmalade down to a syrup and mix it with the Mexican tequila I still have from Hacienda Antigua!  After all, I’m on lockdown. I’m not driving anywhere.


Blue agave margarita in Mexico

Goulash Powder, Paste and Paprika from Hungary

I ate goulash as much as I could during my stay in Budapest, Hungary. It was the first meal I sought out in a sidewalk cafe and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. For meal, goulash had always been a sort-of tomato & pepper noodle mixture with beef chunks. I hated it as a kid. I’m not sure it was similar to real Hungarian goulash, which was a stewlike meal served with noodles and bread.


Krizsta prepares our goulash dinner

After I ate it at two different cafes, I had goulash in the home of a local woman who offered an authentic dinner in her home as a tour option. I was the only person who’d booked dinner at her house that evening and it was just she and I. She sat and ate with me and we talked for hours about our lives, marriages, children, the world. It was an incredible night. Whenever you have the chance to dine in the homes of locals, even if it is offered in the spirit of tourism, do it. I do it any time I can.


The goulash mix I bought at the food market in Budapest has been sitting on my shelf as a colorful souvenir package, with its handpainted wooden spoons and national colors. I decided to follow the recipe on the back and got the ingredients I needed to go with all the spices I had to make this dish at home.

It was good. I ate it with crunchy bread and a beer like I did there, but it just wasn’t the same. It was fun reminiscing about that trip, though.

Bluebonnet Jelly from Fredericksburg, Texas

I’ve eaten my way through most of the sauces I bought at Fischer & Wieser’s Das Peach Haus in Hill Country, Texas. Soon after I got back from my trip there, I started basting chicken breasts with the Charred Pineapple Bourbon Sauce and Mango Ginger Habanero sauces I couldn’t resist. I feel like I ate a lot of chicken for a while.

The Raspberry Chipotle Sauce is almost empty, but I think I saved the Bluebonnet Jelly for last to use over biscuits. When I tasted it during my fantastic wine/food tasting tour at Das Peach Haus, I immediately thought of this almond-y flavor spread over top of a warm, buttery biscuit… Glad I still had that jar!

Huckleberry Syrup from Yellowstone National Park



Buying huckleberry syrup, honey, and BBQ sauce while I explored Yellowstone National Park last summer was a no-brainer. It was for sale in almost every souvenir shop and in the park’s gift shops. I fell in love with huckleberry every place I visited in Montana. Like the Huckleberry Mule I enjoyed while I stayed at the Copper King Mansion in Butte, Montana.

Souvenir Foods

Over the years, I’ve brought regional delicacies home almost every time I travel. They usually make great gits, too, and I love to have tasting parties when I bring home enough goodies for everyone to share. Like the Amish cheese party I had. Or the Belgian waffles I’ve served for breakfast/brunch the day after I return from  Brussels. It’s one of my favorite ways to bring the world back home and share it with family and friends.

How about you? Any food souvenirs hidden in your cupboard?



19 responses to “Self-Isolation Has Taken A Flavorful Turn

  1. I have a package of smoked salmon from our Alaskan trip this past fall. Other than that not much else. However, I have been trying to switch up the flavors on protein, veggies, eggs, rice/grains, and pasta lately to keep it fresh. Happy Weekend – Be Safe and Take Care 🙂

  2. I remember you raving about the huckleberry products, Juliann. I like your hobby. And what a fun way to bring back memories. I do it with photos but the tastes would add another level. –Curt

  3. I love this whole post, Julie. (As I’m sure you knew I would.) Strangely, I find that I tend to pick up non-perishable things from my travels, likely because I tend to be sentimental and it makes me sad to think that whatever food item I buy will disappear eventually. But now I’m thinking I need to reconsider that mindset because you certainly are having lots of great feasts at home! 🙂

    • I am typically a saver, too. I like to buy things like spice mixes, or the Hungarian goulash ingredients I bought at the market there. I often save them too long, like you, but I’m trying to not do that anymore.

  4. How fun! The only souvenir food I can think of is tea from Taiwan, and chocolate coffee from Berlin. The latter I ended up throwing away because no one was going to drink it, not even in quarantine. (It sounded good in theory.) Other than that, I tend to buy either chocolates or macarons, neither of which tend to survive more than a few days before getting devoured, haha…

  5. This delicious Post has made me smile AND search out my huckleberry syrup and my smooth tequila to help keep me satisfied from being otherwise shut off from the world!

  6. This is really such a great idea! You’ve picked up some truly odd and unique recipes along your travels. I don’t have many food travel souvenirs that I’ve picked up, besides some spices from Morocco that are lasting literally years. However I’ve definitely been making more food/recipes from my travels lately – especially Sri Lankan food!

  7. My hubby and I are big foodies and always bring home food souvenirs and then very painfully dole it out! We have paprika from Hungary, and balsamic vinegar and olive oil from Italy, sardines from Portugal, prickly pear syrup from our time in Phoenix and lots and lots of sardines, rillettes, foie gras, and butter from France! We relive our trips over and over again when we eat!

  8. We always sent people home with prickly pear everything when they visited us in Tucson. You can just buy prickly pear syrup and use that , maybe on some mesquite pancakes or prickly pear lemonade.

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