11 Savvy Gifts for the Foodie

iStock
iStock

Whether it’s the friend who makes you wait in two-hour brunch lines or the uncle who starts planning Thanksgiving in August, you likely have at least one foodie in your life. This holiday season, indulge their gastronomic side with one of these delectable gifts.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. Short Stack Editions

Cover of cookbook.
Amazon

Entering the kitchen can be daunting, even with a well-written book of recipes at your side. The Short Stack series of cookbooks keeps things simple. Each slim volume focuses on a single ingredient and contains 20 to 25 relevant recipes written by a different culinary professional. Butter, avocados, chocolate, and tahini are just a few of the featured themes. And when the books are not being used to whip up recipes, the colorful, textured paper covers make them lovely to look at.

Find It: Amazon for $14 and up and at these other retailers:

2. Horseshoe Brand Hot Sauces and Barbecue Sauces Six-pack

Row of hot sauces.
Horseshoe Brand

Horseshoe Brand sells 11 varieties of small-batch hot sauce and barbecue sauce. If you can’t pick just one bottle for the condiment-lover in your life, the Hudson Valley, New York-based company offers a six-pack. Mix and match to create the perfect set of sauces from their line, which includes roasted garlic, kiwi jalapeño, and hot barbecue sauce.

Find It: Horseshoe Brand for $30

3. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat By Samin Nosrat

Cover of cookbook.
Amazon

Forget specialized kitchen gadgets and artisanal ingredients. The key to most good meals, cookbook author Samin Nosrat claims, comes down to just four components: salt, fat, acid, and heat. In the author's beloved book (which even inspired a Netflix series), she reduces over 100 basic recipes to these elements. With Nosrat’s sharp insights and Wendy MacNaughton’s playful illustrations as a guide, the readers of this book will develop essential cooking instincts.

Find It: Amazon for $21

4. Very Veggie Spice Collection

veggie spice blend collection
Uncommon Goods

Save your vegetarian loved one the labor of finding the perfect spices to pair with their meat-free dishes. This set includes seven sweet-and-savory blends—Manchego & roasted garlic, chipotle parmesan, chili lime, Asian curry and honey, balsamic and roasted onion, and parmesan mediterranean—which have been slow-dried and then quickly ground and jarred to preserve flavor. One taste of the seasonings will ruin the supermarket stuff for good.

Find It: Uncommon Goods for $26

5. MOLECULE-R CUISINE R-EVOLUTION KIT

Box of cooking supplies.
Amazon

Molecular gastronomy isn’t limited to Michelin-starred chefs working out of space-aged kitchens. With this kit, anyone can create futuristic dishes from their kitchen at home. The package contains pipettes, food additives, tubes, a mold, spoons, and a syringe. A DVD walks home chefs through 50 impressive recipes, making dishes like mint caviar beads, chocolate spaghetti, and tzatziki spheres as approachable as they are tasty.

Find It: Amazon for $43 and at these other retailers:

6. Balsamic Vinegar Of ModenA

Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
Food52

It’s easy enough to find basic balsamic vinegar at your local supermarket, but if you want to find something that goes beyond the basic stuff, you’ll have to search harder. All bottles of this product come from a real vinegar house in Modena, Italy, a.k.a. the balsamic vinegar capital of the world. Its authenticity comes through in the flavor. With no additives or caramels muddying the taste, every drop is pure, concentrated balsamic.

Find It:

7. Chefsteps Joule Sous Vide

Food cooking in a pot.
Amazon

Flavorful fish and perfectly-cooked steaks are just a quick sous-vide away from the dining room table. If you know someone who would geek out over an immersion circulator, this is the one to get them. It stands less than a foot tall and weighs 1.3 pounds, making it half the size of similar products. And unlike traditional sous vide tools, this one connects to smart devices via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The app relays updates on the food as it cooks. Dinner has never been so hard to screw up.

Find It: Amazon for $199 and at these other retailers:

8. Pizza Rescue Kit

Vials of spices next to a box.
Uncommon Goods

In a perfect world, every slice of pizza would leave you wanting more. But unfortunately, there’s no shortage of mediocre pies out there. That’s why a group of New York pizza aficionados created the Pizza Rescue Kit. The three vials contain black truffle salt, aleppo pepper, and an Italian herb blend. Pizza lovers can sprinkle the seasonings on frozen pizza or $1 parlor slices to elevate them to gourmet status.

Find It: Uncommon Goods for $15

9. Turntable Kitchen Pairings Box; 1 Month For $25

Vinyl disc and food recipe.
Turntable Kitchen

This gift is for the person in your life who treats food like a cultural experience. Each monthly box of this subscription contains two parts: a recipe and curated music to complement it. Home cooks can drop the 7-inch vinyl onto their turntable and listen to new music from artists like Basecamp and Cathedrals while they cook. Once that track is over, they can transition to the digital mix tape that comes with the subscription. The food portion of the gift includes three seasonal recipes, one or two premium ingredients, and tasting notes.

Find It: Turntable Kitchen

10. SHERRY B CUSTOM ICE CREAM CAKE SANDWICHES SIX-PACK

Ice cream sandwiches.
Goldbely

Ice cream cakes are usually reserved for special occasions; this six-pack of ice cream cake sandwiches from Sherry B Dessert Studio makes it easy to enjoy the treat anytime and anywhere. Choose six flavors from options like birthday cake, purple velvet, Fluffernutter, and Blackout ice cream. The treats weigh nearly half a pound, so hopefully you can convince the giftee to share.

Find It: Goldbelly for $99

11. Antidote Dark Chocolate Bars Six-Pack

Gourmet chocolate bars.
Amazon

These gourmet chocolate bars are flavored with exotic ingredients like cardamom, mango, and cayenne. But in each variety, the cocoa takes the starring role. Antidote chocolate is made with Arriba Nacional beans from Ecuador that have been slow-roasted to create a rich depth of flavor. Little to no sugar is added: Instead the chocolate is mixed with real spices and chunks of fruit.

Find It: Antidote Chocolate for $43

These Modern, Minimalist Cremation Urns Double as Planters

C.C. Boyce
C.C. Boyce

Cremation is becoming an increasingly common end-of-life plan, but many have lamented the lack of options when selecting an urn to store their loved one's ashes. Many of these vessels take the form of drab-looking vases that, for some people, serve as reminders of a painful event.

That’s why C.C. Boyce stepped in. The Los Angeles-based designer and woodworker created a collection of “planturns”—urns that double as planters—to fill a gap in the market.

“A while back a friend’s father passed away and they couldn’t find a cremation urn that they liked, so they asked me to make something, and I did, thinking this would just be a one-off custom job,” Boyce said in a video uploaded to Kickstarter. “But when I posted the final product to Instagram, I was flooded with messages from people all across the death care industry—people who took care of pets as well as people.”

Plant urns
C.C. Boyce

Some wanted an urn with a more modern aesthetic, while others wanted a subtler piece that would effortlessly blend with their household decor. The symbolism of death fusing with new life has not gone unnoticed, either.

Boyce spent a year experimenting with different designs and settled on two styles: one that comes in speckled maple, and another that comes in a two-toned walnut and sycamore. All of the vessels have two parts that attach via magnetic pull, so even if the planturn gets knocked over, the ashes will still be safe and sound.

The bottom part contains a hand-waxed muslin bag to store your loved one’s cremated remains, and the top part features a glass or ceramic holder for your plant of choice, whether it’s a succulent or air plant.

They come in three sizes, which will vary in accordance with the amount of ashes you want to store. A small planturn is suitable for small pets, while a large can hold the ashes of a person. Get it on Kickstarter for $225 to $500, depending on the size.

Celebrate Earth Day With 7 Eco-Friendly Fashion Options That Won't Pollute the Planet

iStock.com/lolostock
iStock.com/lolostock

Fashion is one of Earth’s most resource-intensive, environment-polluting industries. Manufacturing clothing requires vast quantities of water, international transport, and labor—and after all that, clothes regularly get thrown away after just a few months or years. (In part because recycling fabric into new textiles is very difficult.)

But that doesn’t mean that you need to become a nudist in order to save the Earth. There are plenty of clothing companies that take their environmental impact very seriously, using recycled and organic materials and trying to minimize the carbon footprint of their supply chain and manufacturing process. This Earth Day, take a look at some of the clothing that allows you to feel good about looking good.

1. Ralph Lauren Earth Polo

While it’s easier to find eco-friendly clothing at outdoor and sporting retailers, some mainstream fashion companies are getting in on the trend, too. Ralph Lauren just launched its first polo shirt made of recycled material—the Earth Polo. Available for both men and women in four different colors, the shirts are made with fabric derived from plastic bottles. Though they look nearly identical to the company’s regular styles, each Earth Polo is made from approximately 12 recycled plastic bottles. And to reduce water pollution, the colored fabrics are dyed with a process that requires no water.

Buy it from Ralph Lauren for men and women for $90.

2. Madewell Second Wave Swimwear

Madewell launched its first sustainable swimwear line in February 2019, meaning that you can feel a little less guilty about ocean trash while frolicking at the beach. Made from recycled plastic bottles, Second Wave swimsuits are available in two-piece or one-piece designs in a variety of colors and patterns. According to the company, the one-piece suits incorporate material from eight used plastic bottles, while its separates are each made from two plastic bottles. (In other words, if you want to save the environment, cover up!) We like the simplicity of this $80 red one-piece suit, but there are plenty of options to choose from starting at $45 per piece. Sizes run from XX small to 3X.

Buy it at Madewell for $45 and up.

3. PrAna Shirts

The California-based clothing company prAna is all about sustainability, from its materials to its manufacturing to the composting program at its headquarters. It makes pieces with organic and recycled materials and participates in fair trade and bluesign certification. You can filter items in its online store based on whether it’s made with recycled content, and there’s a lot to choose from, whether you’re looking for something to wear to the office, the beach, or yoga class. The Iselle t-shirt line for women is made with 92 percent recycled polyester and 8 percent hemp (which requires fewer pesticides and less water to produce than cotton), and comes in short-sleeve (left), long-sleeve, and tank designs. For men, the Transverse line of shirts is made with 95 percent recycled polyester and 5 percent hemp. There are also dressier options—the Merger button-down shirts (right) are made with 44 percent recycled polyester, 53 percent hemp, and 3 percent spandex.

Buy it from prAna.

4. Patagonia Stretch Rainshadow Jacket

A navy blue Patagonia jacket
Patagonia, Backcountry.com

Patagonia’s Rainshadow jackets are designed to keep you dry but cool during summer showers or while you’re working hard. The latest version of the design—which is fully waterproof but still breathable—is made with ECONYL, a recycled nylon made from discarded materials like abandoned fishing nets. ECONYL’s manufacturer estimates that the material reduces the climate change-related impact of nylon by up to 80 percent compared to new construction made from oil.

Buy it from Backcountry.com for men and women for $200.

5. Mammut Convey Recycled Down Jacket

Down-filled jackets are a reliable way to stay toasty during the cold months, but you may worry about the impact your outdoor adventures have on the ducks and geese that serve as the source for your jacket’s filling. Many outdoor retailers are switching to recycled down, which repurposes down from used bedding, cushions, and other items that would otherwise end up in the landfill. Mammut’s Convey is one of the best puffy jackets for cold weather, according to Popular Mechanics, and its 700 fill down comes from recycled sources.

Buy it from Mammut for men and women for $200.

6. Decathlon Fleece

Decathlon, a French mega-retailer that’s essentially the IKEA of sporting goods, makes a number of jackets, shirts, and pants using recycled polyester and other eco-friendly materials. (It’s also dedicated to reducing any unnecessary packaging.) The company just launched its first U.S. store in the Bay Area, and is rolling out its online store nationwide. If you’re looking for gear made with recycled materials, head to the fleece department—it its lightweight Forclaz 50 fleece jackets are made with 100 percent recycled polyester. The company also manufactures plenty of warm-weather gear with recycled materials, too, like its TREK 500 t-shirts (available for men and women) and flip-flops, all made with a majority, if not 100 percent, recycled materials. Oh, and did we mention that everything is dirt cheap?

Buy Forclaz 50 fleece jackets from Decathlon for both men and women for $5.

7. Pacsafe ECONYL Backpack

Recycled fabric isn’t just for clothing. A number of retailers also use sustainable textiles to make accessories. Pacsafe, which makes secure bags designed to keep your stuff from getting snatched while you’re traveling, makes a line of anti-theft bags designed with ECONYL regenerated nylon. The carry-on backpack has all the same security features as the company’s other products—cut-resistant straps and fabric, locking clips and zippers, and more—but it’s made with recycled materials. And all the profits from the line go to the Turtle Fund, the company’s conservation effort aimed at helping endangered sea turtles.

Buy it from Pacsafe for $130.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER