Getting the right gift can be difficult after you’ve visited Turkey. You visited for the beaches, or for the history, or for the food or for the hospitality. But now you’ve got to get presents for all your loved ones back home! And, if you’re anything like the average traveler, you don’t have room to bring back 20 iznik ceramic plates (and/or you’re concerned you might break them somewhere along the way) or dozens of Turkish rugs, however breathtaking they may be!
Well, we’re here to help, here are 10 amazing presents you can get only in Turkey that are truly local, truly represent your trip, and are available at just about every major grocery store near you!
Everyone in the world loves sweetened hazelnut cocoa spreads. You might even know that a large percentage of such commercial spread’s hazelnuts come from Turkey, and that Turkey has the best hazelnuts in the world. However, did you know that a completely standard product you’ll find all over Turkey is hazelnut butter, which is essentially these commercial varieties only without any of the additives, and with WAY more hazelnuts!
Standard commercial spreads have around 13% hazelnuts and the rest is mostly chemicals. Turkish hazelnut butter is upwards of 80% hazelnuts (and the rest is largely sugar 😊) and is cheap and delicious. Spread that on some bread and see how delicious it is! Or use it simply the way peanut butter is used, a personal favorite is to mix it with chocolate chip cookies and revel in the best cookies on Earth!
Olive Oil Soaps
Cleanliness in Turkey dates back millennia, as evidenced by the prevalence of hamams everywhere you go. Soaps made of olive oil have been used in Turkey dating back just as long, and as a result they’re not the touristy novelty you might see in Europe but your bog-standard variety of soap available in the local super market!
When you go, you’ll typically see two varieties of soap, one green in color that is simply pure olive oil soap, and the other “hamam soap.” Hamam soaps are slightly higher end, and are often mixed with laurel oil and more refined. Soaps typically come in packs of four or more, so with just a few purchases you can have bought presents for the whole family!
For reasons we’ve never understood, balsamic vinegar is all the rage for mixing with olive oil in salads. Once you’ve tried some 100% pomegranate molasses we promise you’ll never go back! It’s made very simply by reducing down pomegranate juice to a thick syrup and then bottled – some brands add sugar and others don’t.
When you look in the store, you’ll see cheaper and more expensive versions, and typically the cheaper versions are knock-offs (who may even be labelled “pomegranate-flavored molasses”) so beware. But as long as you see the 100% label on there you know it’s one of the most delicious additions to any dinner table, and easy to purchase when you’re on the go to the airport!
While we’re on the subject of salads, olive oil has become a luxury good all over the world whereas in Turkey it’s simply a standard part of every meal and every kitchen. While Europeans rave over cold pressed, extra virgin, in Turkey you’ll find hundreds of varieties of olive oil (not just brands), from cold-press to early harvest to late harvest to stone pressed and more, with standards that make them amongst the world’s best olive oils for half the price (or less) what you pay in Europe.
Try a couple of the more exotic ones and share them around with your friends to see which they prefer, but regardless of what you end up with it’s sure to be as good or better than the highest-end luxury olive oils you find abroad!
This one’s probably the most obvious on the list, but that doesn’t mean it’s the worst! Every supermarket will have some standard Turkish delight, and it’s a sweet that goes absolutely perfectly with a cup of tea or coffee. In Turkey there are relatively few brands that are best known, so typically what you find in a supermarket represents what locals have deemed the best brands.
Pick yourself and your loved ones up a couple boxes of Turkish delight and scatter them around to various friends back home, we promise their children will thank you after just a couple mouthfuls!