Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Remember Oprah’s big fat list of luxurious things you super-duper wanted but couldn’t afford? And then she would have a show every year where, like, 200 lucky jerks would get all the stuff and not one of them was ever you? What the heck good is that kind of gift guide, I ask you, noble Hungries? Is there actually anyone who buys for you who has enough cash to get multiple people really fancy coffee machines, or fully-sequined Uggs, or $150 organic cotton pajama pants? Probably not. People get me, like, Yankee candles for Christmas. Most of us don’t know that many rich people, and are far from wealthy ourselves. So her list always bugged me, even though it was kind of fun to look at the endless parade of shiny, pretty things.  But you know what? The perfect present that expresses to the giftee that you love them, care about them, and wish them comfort and joy throughout the year is always better than some trendy, overpriced gift-of-the-year.

Of course, I always know people really get me when they give me something that appeals to either my foodie self, my pageant self, or the part of me that’s nuts about all things Kate Spade and Tory Burch. Those last two bleed a little bit into the overpriced territory I’m specifically speaking against in this post, but I like them anyway.

If you want to show your foodie relative, friend, or loved one that you really get them and want them to be happy this year, here are some gift ideas I’ve run across in the past 12 months.

I shared Flavour Gallery’s cool shirts with you last year, I know, but I have to bring them up again. They now have Chris Cosentino and Andrew Zimmern-designed wares, plus my new favorite shirt, which I wear every week as soon as it’s clean out of the wash. It’s a James Beard joint, and it’s about pork, natch. I should also tell you that Flavour Gallery’s shirts are completely soft and fit really roomy and nice-like. They are so comfortable, in addition to the fun statement they make about how up on today’s food scene the wearer is.

My next suggestion is keeping with the pork theme, and is actually something on my list this year. If you need to buy for someone as craven about bacon as this girl is, think about a bacon desk calendar. What could be better? He or she receives the gift of obsession about meat candy every day of the year, and you have the very exciting promise of the fact that they might be inspired enough to invite you over to eat some during the next twelve months! Now that’s a festive two-fer!

Is there a Hunger Games fan on your Christmas list? Hanukkah list? Do Ramadan or Kwanzaa require lists? If so, drop in on old favorite Vosges Chocolates and their little sister off-shoot, Wild Ophelia, for their Catching Fire-themed candy bars. I ate the Wild Ophelia District 3 dark chocolate, coffee, and salt crystal bar this afternoon, and let me tell you, it did not suck. It was a whole heck of a lot better than actually participating in the Hunger Games, and just slightly less entertaining than actually watching the movie. These chocolates are Haymitch-approved, and Effielicious.

An economical and almost unfathomably scrumptious option, if you need a small gift or hostess item that will fill your giftee with glee, is Syracuse’s own Spicy Hot Tomato Oil. This is the best thing to ever come out of Armory Square other than BC’s lobster salad, but infinitely more portable. It is good on bread, great on pasta, and unparalleled when mixed with a little pesto and a touch of cream as a completely addicting sauce. It is sweet, garlicky, savory, spicy, and fabulous. It’s available at Wegmans, at Pasta’s in the Cuse, or right here. I make several food baskets up every year for people on my lists, and every one of ‘em is getting a jar of this in a couple of weeks. It’s worth noting that I just discovered a salad dressing recipe on this product’s website that may become the reason I eat salad in 2014.

I know I’ve mentioned Zingerman’s to you before, but I want to drive the message home once again: there are countless good ideas at this place, for whatever type of foodie you know, and whatever your price range. From cookies and cakes, to Reuben sandwich kits, bacon of the month clubs, and fancy imported olive oils, Zingerman’s sources all the tasty things so you don’t have to. I routinely buy my bacon and oatmeal from there, but there are about a million delicious little things available, and they ship super fast. Peruse this site and thank me later, and again and again for years to come.

Who doesn’t love a phone case that makes their device stick out from the crowd? Mine, from Case Mate, showcases my BHS logo, and two pictures of fantastic food. I get compliments on it all the time. You could put together a triptych of phtos on a custom case for someone on your gift list, and create a really cool and unique gift in less than 10 minutes. Whether it’s pictures of your sister’s baby girl digging in to her one-year birthday smash cake, or the logo of your nephew’s  new brew pub and photos of his remodeling process, this is a gift that’s practical AND appreciated.

Last but not least, and certainly more on the extravagant side, is something I may just have to order for myself, as I suspect it won’t be under my Christmas tree. Besh Box is the newest culinary subscription service out there, created by New Orleans Top Chef Master John Besh. Each month, you get a box of recipes, tools, and special ingredients with which to make them, playlists and wine pairing ideas for serving, all straight from the mind of one of the top Southern chefs in the country. This could be a fun wedding gift for a young couple looking to learn in the kitchen, a great Christmas gift for someone who’s overworked and likes to let loose at dinner time, or if your daughter complains that her husband never helps out in the kitchen, get him this! I am not kidding, I want a good six month subscription myself. As it’s pricy, I may be taking up a collection in the new year.

As we dip a tentative toe into yet another frosty season of celebration and giving, remember that food gifts communicate abundance, warmth, love, and nurturing. Just as sharing a meal generates feelings of fellowship and fun, so to does bestowing a yummy delight upon someone you love. And speaking of sharing a meal, how did your Thanksgiving feast go down? Share your tale in the comments, and behold, one of our birds of paradise – this is Smokey, and he was delectable!

My personality is big; my hunger is bigger!


  1. Was looking forward to this post for 2013 - great ideas! I already have my gift for you tho ;)

    1. I think I bought your gift in July his year? So yeah, I'm all set, too. LOL

  2. Replies
    1. I'm buying some colleagues gifts from Zing's tomorrow, and I did two Vosges gift sets for faraway friends on Cyber Monday.

  3. Very fun! I might be getting that shirt for Aaron. He likes to say he could be vegetarian if it weren't for bacon.

  4. Hi there! I simply would like to give an enormous thumbs up for the great info you have got here on this post. I might be coming again to your weblog for extra soon. https://royalcbd.com/product/cbd-oil-500mg/