Shopping for Foodies: Trey Popp’s Holiday Gift Guide
It’s that time of the year, again. The gourmets in your life may already have everything, but they belong to a tribe that forever wants everything-plus-one. Here are a few ideas for how to treat your favorite foodie without (necessarily) breaking the bank.
If you’re going to give somebody a pan—that is, somebody who already has all the usual workhorses but is never disappointed to add another tool to the batterie de cuisine—there’s none better than a paella pan. For one, who doesn’t like paella? For another, they don’t cost that much. Fante’s sells a variety of steel paella pans (which is what you want) for less than $40. A mere $14 will buy you this 8-incher, but I’d go with something that would serve more people. This $36 17-incher would feed about six. The store also has a 14-inch pan on the shelf (but not on their website) that would be a good middle ground.
Finally, this is a pan that actually saves money. Paella’s undeserved reputation as being hard to pull off distracts people from the actual truth, which is that there’s no better way to revive leftovers than by throwing them into a paella. Paella is a routine weeknight meal at our house. If there’s leftover pork or chicken in the fridge, you can bet that it’ll be joining a hodgepodge of vegetables and a quart of frozen homemade stock (which makes all the difference) in an improvised paella within two days. Better yet, my kids have never turned up their noses at the result—even if they scorned that pork or chicken the first time around.
Of course it does help to get comfortable making paella before riffing on it, so consider Alberto Harraiz’s Paella as a companion volume. Once you get the hang of the stovetop-to-oven method he uses, you’ll start seeing everything in your fridge as potential paella fodder. Because Harraiz sure does—from standard items like shrimp and green beans to a paella featuring salt cod, apples, and cauliflower.
My parents have an uneven history in the gift-giving department. More often than not, they knock it out of the park. But sometimes they get carried away with wishful thinking about a gift’s potential to reverse deficiencies of knowledge or character. Since I have so many of both, I’m a particularly ripe target for these “gifts”—like the copy of Auto Repair For Dummies they gave me when I was about 15, in the vain hope that if I was going to put wear-and-tear on the family car, I could at least learn enough to dodge a few auto-shop bills.
They’ve long since abandoned all hope of proficiency on the automotive front, but my mom has kept up her unending campaign to improve my housekeeping standards. Lysol wipes one year, weird little inverted spray bottles of counter cleansing products the next. They usually last no longer than the house visit that occasioned them.
But this OXO kitchen scrub brush contraption is the exception. It’s not much to look at: just a plastic receptacle for a run-of-the-mill soap-dispensing scrubber. But it neatly contains all the little scummy drips that used to foul my countertop—when I didn’t just give up and leave my scrub brush in the bottom of the sink (which rivals toilet seats as the dirtiest place in most houses).
Your favorite foodies shouldn’t be grabbing handfuls of E. coli when they fetch scrubbers from the sink. But they do have to clean up just like anyone else. Stuff their stockings with a tool that’ll make the experience a little smoother.
Trey Popp will be back all week with more gift suggestions for the foodie in your life. Find all his ideas at foobooz.com.