A friend who's perpetually broke went to Chinatown and bought some inexpensive and inspiring ingredients--dried lemongrass, green and red curry pastes, kaffir leaves. The gifts and the meals they helped create brightened my whole winter.
A kaffir lime tree. My parents had it shipped to friends in Oklahoma, then drove up to get it for me. One is not able to ship fruit trees to Texas (or California or Florida). The tree is now eight years old and has provided wonderful flavors for our Thai dinners over the years.
Cooking class gift certificates for Mirabelle Restaurant in St. James, NY. What a blast, and the best salade nicoise I have ever had.
My mother who passed away this past May always bought what I happened to be interested in at the time. She knew I loved to bake so she bought bread, pie and tart pans made in France. I told her of my interest in making preserves, something she did with her great-grandmother and grandmother. She bought my first preserves cookbook, which I still use religiously today for its simple recipes.
Gifts that have been passed down from family members. Decorative items that belonged to grandparents, or their cookware, kitchen utensils, china, crystal and silver. Wonderful table linens that I remembered as a child that my grandmother used during the holidays.
A beautiful, huge Wedgewood turkey platter and silver, footed compote. And of course, cookbooks, cookbooks, cookbooks!!!
Even though I didn't really love it, my next door neighbor use to bake us a cake every year for Christmas. She would always make a huge chocolate cake with a snowman skiing on it. I miss those cakes.
A boneless turkey stuffed with crawfish dressing. It was superb. It was uncooked and flat looking, but it rose to the occasion while roasting. If I can't eat it or drink it, don't bother at my age.
Cookbooks are ALWAYS under my Christmas tree!
Most popular gifts: Kitchen Aid mixers, good wine, Champagne, restaurant gift certificates, cookbooks, kitchen gadgets, homemade treats
Cheese with mold on it.
A single-cup coffeemaker the year two of my sisters got married. Ugh.
Instant latte mix.
Wine hand computer. I get better advice at my local wine shop.
Any seasonal servingware. Who wants to store something you can only use once a year?
A cookbook from a chef that I didn't like.
Something that was given to them that they gave to me later! It matched their kitchen perfectly! It was blue candle holders with no candles.
Regifted chocolates from the grocery store.
A dieter's cookbook.
Least popular gifts: fruitcake, inexpensive wine glasses, bad wine
Holiday Gift Guide
Many of the people who took our survey also asked for gift ideas. One respondent wrote, I would love for Food & Wine to do a best places to shop for gifts for caviar, wine, cookies, fruits etc. I do all my holiday shipping online and would love a guide.
Our editors hunted down the most spectacular holiday gifts in a range of prices. Consult the Gifts of Good Taste guide for this years best picks.