Make the most of culinary herbs and spices.
Unusual Gifts for Herb Lovers (or Yourself!)
by Sandra Bowens
Here's one that's full of our favorite recipes because we wrote the book! It is also full of information, helpful hints and ideas for using herbs and spices in your kitchen.
Other articles you might enjoy:
1. Holiday Recipes
2. An Herbal Potluck
3. The Gift of Food
4. The Pleasure of Fresh Herbs
5. A Book Review: The Mistress of Spices
What do you get for the herb lover who seems to have it all? Nobody needs more than one spice rack or a second subscription to Herb Companion. Last year's garden tools were a great idea but they are built to last a lifetime. Penzey's gift packs are always nice, unless you sent that twice already. It's time to start thinking outside the spice jar.
Seek out a professional
Most herb lovers also love to eat. Why not prepare a special meal featuring all of your giftee's favorite flavors? You could make it a surprise or design a little gift certificate in lieu of an invitation. Check out this site's recipe index for help with menu planning.
Don't cook? Hire a professional to prepare an herbal odyssey for your loved one. Personal chefs are readily available these days. Check the local Yellow Pages or do a search online. The Personal Chef Network and Hire a Chef both have websites to help locate a pro in your area. These culinary wizards will usually suggest a menu and then do the shopping, preparation and clean-up.
Admiring herbs as art
As you learn about herbal lore, seasonings become more interesting. Your herb lover probably has a favorite myth. Ask him or her and you may glean a few gift ideas.
My own favorite is the legend of the bay laurel tree. The mythical god Apollo is said to have fallen madly in love with the nymph Daphne. Although she did not return his feelings, he pursued her with such fervor that the other gods took pity and turned her into the bay tree.
My husband and I came across the Apollo and Daphne statue, where he is gripping the waist of a half woman, half tree. After placing it in the library we decided that we still needed something on the wall above it. A bay leaf wreath from Zofia's was the perfect accent.
Even if you aren't interested in a statue, you are likely to find an attractive wall hanging or table decoration at Zofia's. Each exquisite piece is a hand-made work of art that looks good enough to eat. And in the case of my bay wreath, it is.
Set the table
Herb lovers are often enchanted by beauty. Why not consider adding an elegant, herbal touch to each meal? Royal Worchester Porcelain stocks dinnerware called Herbs. The dainty green motif on the dishes will bring the herb garden to table on even the coldest winter day.
Williams-Sonoma's Bouquet Garni Pasta Bowl set highlights the herbs of France. Each earthenware bowl is decorated with a different herb, parsley, thyme, bay and rosemary while the serving bowl features the famous bouquet garni bundle.
For the desktop
As impersonal e-mails pervade our culture finding a handwritten note in the snail-mail box becomes a special event. Help your herb lover brighten someone's day with the gift of herbal stationary. An herbal address book will brighten up your loved one's workspace as well.
Ryland Peters & Small is a company with the right idea about everyday beauty. So many of their products are suited to your herb lover. Choose from mini notebooks, garden journals and herbal note cards as well as garden and cook books.
To make this gift of stationary extraordinary, arrange an assortment in a basket and add a special ink pen, calligraphy tools or a stamping kit.
Maybe one more plant
Herb lovers rarely need another plant but they are always happy to get one. Unlike sending flowers that will die after a week or so, the surprise of a plant lingers as it continues to grow. Offer the herb plant in a decorative pot and your gift may last a lifetime.
Red Envelope, a website full of great gifts, has an array of herbs for giving. You can select herbs that are growing such as the Kitchen Garden Planter in a functional, yet attractive, galvanized tub or the elegant rosemary topiary. Other gift sets begin with sowing the seeds as in the Chocolate Garden, a selection of herbs with our favorite scent.
We all need to stop and breathe every now and then. Let your herb lover inhale the aroma of herb tea at break time. Tea of the Month Club is a gift of good taste, literally. Choose the Four Seasons gift, the Six-Month gift or a Year of Tea.
Introduce your gift with a lovely tea set and you will never be far from your herb lover's thoughts.
For the ultimate herb lover's gift, take them on a trip. It is easier to arrange travel that centers on herbs and spices than you might think. You can take a guided trip or be creative on your own. Think of the herbs of Province, the chiles of New Mexico or the floating markets of Bangkok.
If you would rather have someone else arrange your travel, you will find plenty of help on the Internet. Herbie's Spice Tours escort you to places all around the world in search of seasonings. Visit Singapore for herb classes that take you to the markets in the morning then teach you how to cook up your finds in the afternoon. Read all about it here. Do a search for Istanbul, home of the most famous spice market in the world, and you will find a multitude of arranged travel opportunities.
In the United States you can visit the Fruit and Spice Park in Homestead, Florida. This unique 32-acre park contains more than 500 varieties of exotic trees ranging from herbs and spices to fruit and nuts. Take a guided "fruit safari" or wander at will gathering fallen fruits. Or enjoy California wine country's Napa Valley in the off-season for the Mustard Festival.
So, you see, by thinking outside the spice jar, finding another gift for the herb lover in your life is a snap. Presents like these are as much a joy to give as they are to receive.
Editor's note: We provide the links in this story as a courtesy to the reader. With the exception of the Amazon links, where we are an affiliate, we have no commercial ties or reason to represent them except that they caught our eye.